NIH Syndrome

Posted on May 3, 2010 by

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The Not Invented Here (NIH) Syndrome is observed across many realms—not just project management. NIH Syndrome manifests itself as an avoidance to use certain products or ideas because of their origin (with this origin being something other than one’s own). Now if an individual or organization is truly the best at something, than it makes sense to acknowledge that and not incorporate the inferior ideas or products of others. However, if there is an erroneous prejudiced belief about products that come from a certain person, organization, or even country, this incorrect belief could lead to poor decisions. For example, a project manager may hire only local contractors because he believes that the people in his town have a superior work ethic. By ignoring non-local contractors, he may be missing the best contractor who could perform higher-quality work for less. Another example is deciding to initiate a project to develop something in-house when there are affordable off-the-shelf options available simply due to the belief that one’s own organization will do superior work. At a smaller level, a project manager who is uninterested in their team members’ ideas solely because they are not the project manager’s ideas is suffering from NIH Syndrome. In summary, an unfounded bias against others’ ideas and products can lead to poor decisions.