Please S.W.I.P.E. away!

(I’ve had a few people ask me about the topic of this blog recently, so I hope this shines some light on the subject!)

It’s not uncommon for me to receive an e-mail commenting on a blog post or Tweet I’ve posted where I’ve shared an idea or a practice and somebody thought it was a good enough suggestion that they’d like to start using it themselves.

Once I get over the shock that some of you are crazy enough to listen to what I say and write, Burglar stealing from SafeI reflect that I’m always flattered to receive such e-mails. I respect that the sender thought enough of me as an individual to ask my permission to use the idea, especially when there is nothing stopping them just using the idea regardless.

My response to these nice e-mails is “Sure, SWIPE away!”.

S.W.I.P.E is an acronym I first came across when I was a member of HTG – the Heartlands Technology Peer Group. Trust me when I say that for a relative newbie to the SMB IT community like myself back then, when you’re hanging around with some of the most successful people in our industry – as HTG members are – you spot a *lot* of fantastic ideas that you want to start using yourself!

I can’t begin to count the number of conversations I have had and e-mails I have sent to people where I said “Do you mind if I use that idea myself?”.

The answer was nearly always the same “Sure – go ahead and SWIPE it – I did!”

S.W.I.P.E stands for Steal with Integrity and Pride from Everywhere.

Over the years I’ve SWIPED everything from e-mail signature lines (thanks Mark!), to out of office messages (cheers Dave!), LinkedIn profile headlines (ta Gareth!), to SQL and Excel reporting code (thanks Robert!), innovative uses of blog posts (ta Jeremy!), to methods for working with vendors (appreciate it Erik!) – but with one important caveat…

.. If I’m able to, I always ask permission to use the idea first (that’s the Integrity bit) – and when I’m asked in turn by someone else as to how I came up with the idea, I pass on the story of where I got the idea from myself.

HTG themselves have actively embraced this idea. Most HTG groups around the world have a regular “Best Practice” competition where everyone gives a short pitch on an idea or practice that has saved them time or made them money, and then the group vote for the best idea. As a former HTG’er myself, I can tell you that you go into that session hoping that *someone else* has the best idea – because you want to go away having SWIPED something very cool!

The CompTIA UK Channel Community has a similar Best Practice competition too. Guess where they got that idea from? Ask them and they’ll not only tell you about where they SWIPED the idea from, but they’ll tell you how much they admire the folks at HTG for granting them permission to use the idea too!

Visit any user group such as AMITPRO and you’ll see people openly sharing ideas and experiences, in the knowledge that somebody may take that idea and run with it. The days of worrying about protecting your “Trade Secrets” are long gone in the SMB community – and it’s my opinion that those that think otherwise stand out from the crowd – for all the wrong reasons.

Of course, I’m not talking about plagiarism or Intellectual Property theft. You shouldn’t, for instance, copy a blog post word for word and pass it off as your own work – but many have been inspired by an article written by someone else and then wrote their own piece on the subject matter, citing the original articles author as the inspiration for the work.

Of course there are others who simply SE – Steal from Everywhere (I’m going to claim credit for that one. Feel free to SWIPE it, although I suspect it won’t catch on…) without giving credit. Everyone has a story of an idea they thought of being passed off by a boss or colleague who took all the credit and gave no recognition to contributors.

But we are all influenced by others, both in the way we conduct ourselves and the ideas we use. I think this is especially true in the IT industry. Based on that fact, I think it’s OK to not only acknowledge that you’re influenced directly by others, but to celebrate that fact openly!

Who would you prefer to work with? Someone who is old school and stands alone, taking from others where he can pinch an idea quietly, but unable to bring himself to ask for help as he feels it shows weakness, instead working to find his or her own solutions to problems that have already been resolved elsewhere, just so they can proclaim themselves a hero and say “I did it myself”!

Or would prefer to work with the individual who actively seeks out and incorporates the solutions, ideas and wisdom of others into their own perspective – comfortable with giving credit as they know this builds trust and further opportunities for learning, enabling them to get things done better and faster, grow more rapidly as an individual, and be open to new ideas.

So please, Steal with Integrity and Pride from Everywhere, and likewise, pass that knowledge on! Smile


Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to enable them to feel more in control and to grow their business. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL). You can e-mail him at or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.


2 Responses to “Please S.W.I.P.E. away!”

  1. 1 robertlindley March 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Hi Richard,
    Nice blog post

    New HTG definition of SWIPE:
    Share With Intent and Purpose Everyday

    I miss see you in the States! Maybe Deborah and I will just have to come over to England to see you.

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