Jacob Morgan Is An Idea Thief; He Should Be Stopped

update (01-26-2016, 16:30): I received via twitter a comparison of the two charts in the picture below.  i don’t use other people’s names without their permission, won’t quote them here, but they have my most sincere appreciation.

Models Comparison

update (01-26-2016, 14:00): the editor for Forbes Magazine maintains there are no sufficient similarities between the charts, will post them for you to make up your own mind; please let me know if I am wrong, seriously.

update (01-24-2016, 15:00) Mitch Lieberman, a friend and fellow victim to Mr. Morgan plagiarism, wrote a very good post on Linked-in about sharing and attribution.  thanks.

original post below.

Imagine my surprise on waking up this morning and discovering this tweet.

A Framework For How Any Company Can Design Amazing Employee Experiences #FutureofWork https://t.co/2apz47obpy pic https://twitter.com/5m1o0RNgvL

I first I thought it was a mistake, or somehow Mr. Morgan had forgotten to properly credit me for my work.  I thought to myself this would be easily fixed – just ask him to credit me and it should be easily solved.  With very few exceptions, that turned not-so-well for the supposed-authors, many discrepancies in the past few years have been solved this way.

This is a popular chart, for some reason.

Then I remembered, back in 2009-2010 we had the same problem, with the same chart.  Back then he also did the same, took my chart (the same one) and added his copyright to it and claimed it to be his.

Back then it could’ve been a misundertanding: I was getting started, was short of funds (I think we call it broke now, but I digress) and was trying to help Mr. Morgan get started in the world of CRM (and back then SCRM).  He offered to have his designer improve the graphic quality of my chart (which was the same, and it was derived from my short — well, not so much — series on Social CRM, check out part 2.1).

I agreed, but when I got the results from his designer had both our copyrights in it (he worked as chess media back then).  We talked (it wasn’t short) and I explained to Mr. Morgan that intellectual property is not simply about putting nice colors and better pictures to an idea, but rather about the idea itself. Eventually he agreed, but not before damaging his reputation in the SCRM/CRM/Enterprise Software communities… which to this day continues to haunt him.

We had a set of private conversations about it that time.  Next time it almost happened we had a very long strong-worded conversation about it.  He blocked me on Twitter, I blocked him, and we have not talked since (we crossed paths in conferences, I hold no grudges, we shared some meals, we chatted – but never worked together or collaborated again).

The same thing happened with other people, his standing with virtually anyone in the Independent Analysts groups is poor – at best.  He is thought of as a copyright thief (one of the worse possible problems to have when you try to make your living as an “thought leader” and generator of ideas).

I thought for a while about this, I wrote an email to Forbes providing them with prior publication of the same model, asked them to take it down and to remove him from their ranks.  I will pursue it further within other publications as well.  I am not spiteful – but when you find someone that cannot understand what he does wrong – even after several people tell him and document for him its wrong — something has to be done.

Jacob Morgan, you have to stop stealing ideas and pass them as yours.


10 Replies to “Jacob Morgan Is An Idea Thief; He Should Be Stopped”

  1. So, do I just click the “Experience” part of that diagram to generate amazing employee experiences? It seems so simple. Maybe I should have declined to get a job after college and then turn around and tell everyone what the future of work would look like…


  2. Plagiarism of original work without attribution gets computer science students kicked out of Stanford. To enforced it Stanford uses an algorithm to search for plagiarism in submitted home work. http://www-cs.stanford.edu/academics/current-cas/stanford-honor-code

    More commercially Ward Cunningham’s continued work on Wiki and attribution fights has led him to Federated Wiki. Where documents are broken down into granular slithers for reuse with attribution similar to how github carries attribution with open source submissions.

    My take, we already see search engine technologies turn up attributions in patents at USPTO. I expect publishing platforms like WordPress and Medium will adopt Federated Wiki document schemes to enforce attribution in original and derived work.


    1. thanks clive,

      my biggest shock – this is at a major publication (@forbes) that cannot see the similarities in the charts. i posted a side-by-side comparison someone sent me to amplify the similarities.

      to me, if i were to be an outsider, this would be preposterous.

      why i keep fighting… kwim?


  3. I have no skin in this game. Looking with a neutral eye on the two diagrams, I can not detect a copyright violation.Already the endless loops forming an 8 are graphically different. The contexts are totally different you describe an internal/external interaction. Jacob talks about the organization/employee interaction. This dispute looks to me as unreal as if the inventors of the VEN Diagram wanted to go after everybody who illustrates a particular situation with that type of diagram.


    1. Christian,

      Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

      I agree with you – this is not an issue of copyright. I never said that or assumed that. This is an issue of attribution.

      The pictures are similar (his models talks to design whereas mine talks to end to end process – and he adds a few more bubbles in the middle) because they are looking at different angles as you say. And I have no issue with this – i welcome it. But they both leverage the concept of experience continuums

      I could point to many people, from book authors to bloggers to influencers, who have built models like Mr. Morgan has – based on my idea of a continuum of experiences and have attributed the original idea to me.

      This is all I ever asked. If you read the post you will see that this is the third time he has tried to copyright the same (similar?) content. The problem is attribution, clear as day.

      All my content has always been offered under creative commons license: attribute always, derivatives ok, no direct commercial use. I am not looking for fame or glory, but as an author my ideas are my product. If someone were to take your content, change a few words or colors, and put a copyright to it – how would you feel? What about if they would give you credit for the idea and then change it?

      There are many, at least a dozen, other cases where Mr. Morgan did the same to other authors, companies, and analysts. This is my main issue: he has been called on it and he does not learn.

      My aim is to stop him or to understand that he needs to do the right thing: respect copyright, attribute sources, acknowledge the ideas and work that came before him.

      We all do it, there is no reason he shouldn’t.

      Appreciate your comment, hope this continues the conversation.


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