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Not Invented Here Syndrome

Definition

“Not Invented Here Syndrome” (NIH Syndrome) is a term used in business and technology fields to describe a persistent organizational culture that rejects new ideas or innovations from external sources, preferring to develop everything in-house. This attitude typically stems from a belief that their own team’s capabilities, knowledge, and work are superior to others. This syndrome creates a barrier to implementing and adopting outside technologies or solutions, often leading to inefficiency and a lack of adaptation to new, potentially advantageous techniques or systems.

Phonetic

The phonetics of “Not Invented Here Syndrome” is:- Not: /nɒt/- Invented: /ɪnˈvɛntɪd/- Here: /hɪər/- Syndrome: /ˈsɪndroʊm/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Not Invented Here Syndrome (NIHS) is a term used to describe situations where organizations or employees develop a resistance or avoidance towards using products, research, or knowledge that originates outside the organization.
  2. The syndrome can inhibit innovation and productivity as it often leads to duplication of effort and loss of focus on core competencies. This can further result in financial losses and a slowdown of growth within the organization.
  3. To avoid falling into the trap of NIHS, it is important for organizations to promote a culture of openness and embrace external ideas and innovation. Regular training, effective communication, and a well-structured approach to adopting new methods can help combat this syndrome.

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  1. Not Invented Here Syndrome (NIHS) is a term used to describe situations where organizations or employees develop a resistance or avoidance towards using products, research, or knowledge that originates outside the organization.
  2. The syndrome can inhibit innovation and productivity as it often leads to duplication of effort and loss of focus on core competencies. This can further result in financial losses and a slowdown of growth within the organization.
  3. To avoid falling into the trap of NIHS, it is important for organizations to promote a culture of openness and embrace external ideas and innovation. Regular training, effective communication, and a well-structured approach to adopting new methods can help combat this syndrome.

Importance

The term “Not Invented Here Syndrome” (NIHS) is significant in the technology industry because it addresses a common psychological bias that can hinder innovation and collaboration. NIHS describes a tendency within organizations to dismiss or undervalue ideas, solutions, or technologies originating outside of the organization, favoring internally developed solutions instead. While pride in internal innovation is beneficial, NIHS can lead to overinvestment in inferior or redundant tools and solutions, resist opportunities for effective partnerships, or ignore market trends and customer needs. By recognizing that valuable ideas can come from many sources, organizations can combat NIHS and enhance their problem-solving ability, efficiency, and capacity for innovation.

Explanation

Not Invented Here Syndrome (NIH Syndrome) is a mindset or organizational behavior that emerges when an entity, such as a corporation or individual, refuses to utilize, endorse, or acknowledge products, research or knowledge that originated outside of the entity. This might stem from a belief that their solutions are superior, or from fear of legal or intellectual property complications. This perspective does not serve any functional purpose, and rather, it’s often considered a detrimental attitude likely to impair innovation and growth.The name “Not Invented Here Syndrome” is used in a somewhat ironic sense as it doesn’t designate a positive characteristic or intention, but rather highlights a problematic and counterproductive attitude. Companies, for example, may end up wasting resources developing their own versions of products or technologies that already exist, which could have been adapted to their needs with far less resource investment. Thus, instead of being a useful tool applied for a particular purpose, NIH Syndrome represents a hurdle for many organizations to overcome in order to foster a more productive and innovative work culture.

Examples

1. The Ford Motor Company: In the 1960s, Ford had developed a new automatic transmission system called the “X Transmission.” However, it was quickly found to have serious design flaws that led to numerous problems. Instead of turning to existing, proven automatic transmission designs that other companies had invented and used successfully, Ford made the decision to spend millions on redesigning and perfecting the X Transmission. This is a classic case of Not Invented Here Syndrome, where a company insists on creating its own design rather than using an existing one that was not invented in-house.2. Microsoft and Internet Explorer: In the 1990s, the Internet was fast gaining popularity and Netscape Navigator was the early leader in providing web browser for users. However, Microsoft refused to adopt or partner with Netscape’s web browser and instead, developed its own web browser, Internet Explorer. This was a huge financial risk that involved significant time and resources, and it is largely seen as an example of Not Invented Here Syndrome.3. Sony and BetaMax: In the early era of home video, there were two primary competing formats for video cassette recorders: VHS and BetaMax. VHS was developed by JVC, while BetaMax was created by Sony. Despite the fact that VHS was becoming the more popular and widely accepted format, Sony held firm in only allowing their films to be released on BetaMax tapes – a clear case of Not Invented Here Syndrome. This refusal to adopt the VHS technology that wasn’t developed by Sony was major factor in BetaMax’s eventual decline.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What exactly is Not Invented Here Syndrome?A: Not Invented Here (NIH) Syndrome is a term used to describe a tendency within organizations to reject or avoid solutions, innovations, or products developed outside of the organization, usually out of a form of bias towards its own internal innovations.Q: Is Not Invented Here Syndrome a recognized psychological or organizational phenomenon?A: Yes, while not a recognized medical or psychological syndrome, Not Invented Here Syndrome is a well-documented organizational bias in business and economics literature. It reflects a preference for internally-developed solutions, even when external alternatives might be superior.Q: Can Not Invented Here Syndrome negatively impact an organization?A: Yes, absolutely. The syndrome can lead to missed opportunities, as it can make an organization reject or overlook potentially beneficial external innovations or solutions. This can hamper progress, inhibit project success, and possibly lead to financial losses.Q: What causes Not Invented Here Syndrome in an organization?A: Various factors can contribute towards NIH Syndrome. This includes fear of reliance on external entities, a desire to maintain control, a belief that the organization’s capabilities are superior, or even a way to protect jobs and internal competencies.Q: What are the possible ways to overcome Not Invented Here Syndrome?A: Overcoming NIH Syndrome requires fostering a culture that values innovation, regardless of its source. This can be achieved by developing open-mindedness, emphasizing continuous learning, rewarding collaborations, and encouraging the use of external information sources.Q: Does Not Invented Here Syndrome only occur in technology industries?A: No, Not Invented Here Syndrome is not exclusive to the technology industry. It can appear in any type of organization or industry where new ideas or solutions are necessary or common. Q: What are the potential consequences for companies that suffer from Not Invented Here Syndrome?A: Companies who suffer from this syndrome can fall behind their competition in terms of productivity, innovation, and market share. They could become so dedicated to internal solutions that they overlook or dismiss superior external solutions, potentially leading to performance issues, financial losses, or even loss of industry relevance. Q: Are there any famous or infamous examples of Not Invented Here Syndrome?A: There are several examples across industries. A commonly cited case is the failure of Kodak to adapt to digital camera technology. Despite being one of the inventors of digital photography, Kodak famously dismissed its potential, focusing instead on their existing film business. Kodak’s resistance to adopt external innovation led to the company’s eventual bankruptcy.

Related Tech Terms

  • Innovation Resistance
  • Organizational Culture
  • Product Development
  • Technology Transfer
  • Knowledge Management

Sources for More Information

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