Archive for December, 2013

High Performance Company Culture Is A Valuable Intangible Asset

December 31st, 2013. Published under Company culture and reputation., Measuring Performance. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly    December 31, 2013    ‘A blog where attention span matters’.

Congratulations to management teams globally who recognize the importance of achieving a high performing company culture.  It is a worthy and generally lucrative strategic goal and a valuable intangible asset, which in today’s increasingly competitive, aggressive, and globally predatorial business development and transaction environment are integral.

The underlying rationale for establishing a high performing company culture is rooted in the economic fact that 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for sustainable growth and profitability,  either lie in or directly evolve from internally produced or externally acquired intangible assets.

Of course, merely achieving a high performing company culture is insufficient standing alone.  It must be sustainable and strategic in orientation.  That is, the culture itself requires consistent monitoring, nurturing, assessment, and be sufficiently adaptive to accommodate business development and transaction circumstances companies encounter globally.

Actually achieving a high performance company culture however is variously dependent on factors such as…

  • a company’s industry sector.
  • the types of transactions a company typically engages, i.e., what works, what does not work.
  • the operating philosophy a company’s employees, and stakeholders have grown accustom, i.e., how things get done, how decisions get made.
  • a company’s (management team) receptivity to and operational familiarity with intangible assets in terms of
    • how it recognizes, develops, and utilizes its intellectual, structural, and relationship capital.
    • behaviors expressed through intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, i.e., what gets rewarded, how, and when.

While these and other factors will influence the outcome, of course, a key to building a high performance company culture is ensuring management teams have clearly defined…

  • where their company is headed strategically, which starts by identifying
  • specific destination points,
  • a time frame that it wishes (needs to, should) to arrive at those destination points, and
  • what resources are required and how those resources will be utilized to arrive at the destination points within the time frame.

The specifics of a high performing culture are generally nuanced to every company because they are based on what appears to work best and get a company to where it’s strategic plan intends for it to go within the parameters management teams have defined. I just don’t believe there is ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to culture building.

I believe, somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’, Torbin Rick, an internationally recognized management specialist poses some salient questions in his December 13th blog post, i.e., is company culture

  • the driving the strategy, or is it undermining it, or is
  • culture more important than strategy?

In support of his analysis, Rick identifies ten key elements in creating a high performance culture which he suggests will probably ‘fit’ most companies…

1.      Clearly defining what winning looks like…

This can be achieved by looking across the entire company, then defining what it looks like from various functional perspectives, i.e., sales, marketing, customer service, procurement, finance etc.

2.      Spelling out the “preferred culture”…

In much the same way that company leaders shape and communicate their company’s vision, a ‘preferred culture’ may consist of a set of guiding principles and/or (sought after) values.  However, the best, Rick suggests, go further by establishing ‘preferred behaviors’ that support the ‘preferred culture’.  This occurs by identifying and assessing particular aspects/facets of a company’s current culture that leaders are satisfied with, while also asking…

  • which additional preferred behaviors does the company need to create for their preferred culture?
  • what behaviors are actually being rewarded and which unacceptable behaviors are merely being tolerated here?
  • how does the company measure each of their preferred behaviors?

3.      Setting stretch targets…

In most instances, employees rise to the standard being set for them. The more a company and its management team expects, in most instances the more they will likely achieve. But there is a fine line, Rick points out between good stretch targets and bad ones.  The good ones of course can energize a company, while the bad ones can dampen morale on an enterprise wide basis.

4. Connecting to the big picture…

The majority of employees want to be a part of a compelling future, Rick adds, and want to know what is most important at work and what excellence actually looks like. For targets to be meaningful and effective in motivating employees must be connected to a company’s larger (strategic) goals.

Employees who don’t understand the role they play in company successes are more likely to become disengaged. No matter what level an employee is at, she should be able to articulate, with precision, how their efforts feed into their employers’ broader strategy.

5.      Developing an ownership mentality…

When employees understand the boundaries in which they can operate and maneuver, as well as where the company wants them to go, they will feel empowered with a freedom to decide and act, and most often make the right choices.

6.      Improving performance through transparency…

By sharing ‘numbers’ with employees, a company can improve its performance.  However, Rick points out, merely being open is seldom sufficient standing alone. A company also needs to be sure their employees are trained to understand financial statements and have sufficient insight into their own jobs to know how to favorably affect the numbers.  But, Rick says, focus on additional metrics besides the merely the financial ones. This will allow employees to be better able to relate to the results and will feel more included in the process as a whole.

7.      Increasing performance through employee engagement…

Employees who are engaged in their positions and understand the contributory role and value to their employer are inclined to put more effort into their job and have the desire – willingness to give more than is minimally required, hence a greater sense of personal committed and loyalty to the company.

8.      Storytelling is important…

Storytelling, Rick believes, can be a powerful tool when a company wants to drive performance improvement. Leaders must be able use stories to motivate their employees to achieve more than they thought possible.

9.      Communicating internally…

Internal communication is an important element of any change management process, i.e., creating a company culture and thus must be consistently engaged in the overall agenda.  In other words, Rick notes, these five questions should be asked…

  • have they heard the message?
  • do they believe it?
  • do they know what it means?
  • have they interpreted it for themselves?
  • have they internalized it?

10.  Taking the time to celebrate

Remember, Rick says, the power of small win insofar as business improvement – change management are concerned once, of course, they have been reached. Taking the time to ‘celebrate’ is important, Rick adds, because it acknowledges employees hard work, boosts their morale, and helps sustain momentum, i.e., if you want something to grow, pour champagne on it!

Don’t take high performance culture for granted…

High-performance organizations do not take their culture for granted. They plan it, monitor it and manage it so that it remains aligned with they want to achieve.

All is for not, Rick appropriately claims, if company management teams do not align the core foundation – mission of their company with its culture, after all, culture eats strategy for breakfast!

This blog post has been researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serve as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   My blog posts focus on a wide range of issues related to intangible assets and intellectual property.   Respectfully, each post is not intended to be quick bites of unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  Should a reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, full attribution is expected and appreciated. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com.

Company Cultures’ Are Valuable Intangible Assets!

December 30th, 2013. Published under Company culture and reputation., Intangible asset focused company culture.. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly    December 30, 2013    ‘A blog where attention span matters’.

Company culture analogies…

Not unlike the landmark pornography case in 1964 (Jacobellis v. Ohio) when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famous utterance of a rather non-rational perspective insofar as judicial decision making, which I now paraphrase, “I don’t know precisely how to define it (pornography) but I know it when I see it:.  

In many respects, Justice Potter’s perspective is quite similar to the way that company culture is often characterized, e.g., as somewhat of an invisible (intangible) temperament and/or attitude that links companies, employees, and stakeholders together.

Similarly, but more definitively, and some years later, in 2006, Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company’s President of the America’s, who has been credited with initiating a culture change at Ford, certainly elevated the prominence of a phrase widely attributed to Peter Drucker, i.e., “culture eats strategy for breakfast” which I understand was framed and hung on the wall of FMC’s so-called ‘war room’.

The dominant task Field engaged in at Ford with respect to initiating a culture change was to…

  • replace a culture (work environment) that had come to be routinely characterized with terms such as bitterness, distrust, fear, and betrayal, etc.,
  • develop a culture that would come to be characterized with different terms such as creativity, innovation, and (employee) sense of responsibility.

Readers familiar with the American auto industry however, surely understand that the culture reversal that took place at Ford, under Field’s tutelage, or any U.S.-based automaker for that matter, is often fragile and linked to collective bargaining agreements.

There is certainly no intent here to minimize Mr. Fields efforts as I’m confident his advocacy served as both impetus and rallying point to achieve the sought after culture change.  But, it’s important to recognize that large scale (enterprise wide) culture changes are seldom the product of a single individual’s efforts.  And yes, Ford, like other U.S. carmakers at the time, were approaching their own respective ‘fiscal cliffs’ which no doubt served to bring about a greater than usual sense of receptivity and urgency to accept change.  Recognizing that if substantial (cultural) change was not forthcoming and in fairly rapid order, those fiscal cliffs would be more than metaphors, they would, in many experts’ view, materialize as irreversible catastrophes to the U.S. auto industry as a whole.

Company culture is an internal version of a company brand, or a company’s last mile…

A company’s culture, Grant McCracken points out, is an ‘internal version of a company brand’ because it encompasses a company’s mission, vision, and its values.  McCracken is one, among several prominent ‘company culture advocates’ who articulates how an effective (company) culture can impact a business.

McCracken makes a compelling case that ‘company culture may well be marketing’s silver bullet’ inasmuch as culture is at the intersection of commerce, anthropology, and business economics’.

Company culture is a valuable intangible asset…

I have long argued, presumably like McCracken, that a well designed, honed, and monitored (company) culture can produce ‘contributory value’ to many different aspects, venues, and transactions that any company may engage.

I recognize that any initiative, sometimes regardless of its motivation, putting forth the time, resources, and effort to develop and instill a sustainable change to a company’s culture will incur various challenges and hurdles, not the least of which is re-directing long embedded beliefs and back-channel habits which can elevate the probability of failure.

I find such circumstances especially significant when there is no internal champion or compelling rationale for change, i.e.…

  • a clear understanding of a company’s intangible assets, of which company culture is one.
  • a strategic appreciation for the implications that a culture change will, in most instances, bring to a business.
  • tested strategies in which to leverage, exploit, and/or market a company’s culture change once it has been achieved in financial contexts.

So, a company management team that is unable to effectively promote its culture internally, will also experience challenges defining and promoting its brand externally.  In part, this may be due to some of the skill sets expected of management teams today which are related to company profitability and sustainability, are not necessarily skills that coincide with initiating, valuing, managing, and monitoring changes in company culture.

While I do not consider myself to be a ‘company culture’ expert, I have held numerous positions of leadership and management which allow me to state with confidence…

  1. a company’s culture can be a useful and influential intangible asset that can deliver substantial value and competitive advantages to any company and most any transaction and/or venue, be it large or small.
  2. the above is largely dependent on management teams, employees, and stakeholders believing it, i.e., the culture is favorably recognized as delivering intangible value.

Probably the two most significant errors made in characterizing a company’s culture, McCracken notes in his book ‘Chief Culture Officer: How To Create A Living, Breathing Corporation’ are…

  • presuming a company culture evolves from the presence of a single individual, and
  • that an individuals’ personality is synonymous with an organization’s culture.

This blog post has been researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serve as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   My blog posts focus on a wide range of issues related to intangible assets and intellectual property.   Respectfully, each post is not intended to be quick bites of unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  Should a reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, full attribution is expected and appreciated. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com.

Problem Finding Through Intangible Assets…

December 26th, 2013. Published under Intangible asset strategy, Intangible asset training for management teams.. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly    December 26, 2013    ‘A blog where attention span matters’!

Admittedly, the title of Michael Roberto’s book “Know What You Don’t Know, How Great Leaders Prevent Problems, Before They Happen”, may appear to some, at least initially, as having virtually nothing to do with utilizing intangible assets.  However, there are numerous facets of Dr. Roberto’s book which, in my view, as an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist, translate with equal significance to decisions related to putting a company’s intangible assets to work insofar as developing sources of value, revenue, competitive advantage, etc.

For starters, readers are encouraged to recount the economic fact – business reality on which this blog commenced, which is, 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, profitability, and sustainability today lie in or directly evolve from intangible assets!

In Chapter 1 for example, appropriately titled “from problem solving to problem finding” Roberto commences with a very relevant quote from G.K. Chesterton which I slightly paraphrase, i.e., “it isn’t that management teams can’t see the solution, rather it’s that they often can’t see the problem”.  The problem not seen, in my view, resides in overlooking and/or dismissing intangible assets as comprising the real sources of most company value, revenue, and competitive advantage.

Roberto goes on to make many other introspective and salient points, which I translate as being relevant to ultimately getting intangible assets as routine discussion – action items on c-suite and management team agendas.  One such example is, in the context the necessity to move ‘from problem solving to problem finding’ is that for a substantial percentage of companies globally, the intangible assets their employees and businesses routinely produce, frequently come to be  embedded in various operations and transactions, remain unrecognized, undistinguished, and otherwise not exploited to the level possible.  Again, in today’s global business process, business development, and business transaction environments which are frequently wholly underwritten by intangible assets, constitutes a significant ‘business problem’ when they remain unrecognized or undistinguished contributors.

So, in the increasingly knowledge (intangible) based global economies, recognizing how business leaders can prevent problems, i.e., those related to sustaining, advancing profitability, market share, competitive advantages, value, revenue sources, reputation, brand, etc., merely by recognizing, developing, and exploiting (their) intangible assets, is a strong example of moving ‘from problem solving to problem finding’ and therefore ‘preventing problems before they occur’.

Continued disregard, dismissiveness, and not recognizing the intangible assets most companies routinely produce is ‘the’ problem’.  It’s resolution however, does not require consuming extraordinary amounts of information or the extensive use of expensive resources.

As readers know, one, time honored starting point for solving most any problem is by recognizing a problem exists, i.e., ‘finding the problem’. From my experience, as this post is an example, ‘finding the problem’ may not be realized through a single seminar, presentation, or article authored by a subject matter expert.  Rather ‘problem finding’ comes through the introspection that hopefully follows either.  So, taking an idea from Roberto’s book, one strategy for remedying this high value problem, that is finding intangible assets, is for management team to add characteristics of anthropology and ethnography to their managerial repertoire.

For example, as an ethnographer, identifies and observes her firms’ producers – developers of intangible assets on the proverbial shop floor, i.e., in their natural settings, wherever that may be.  In other words, ‘finding the problem’ means avoiding ‘simply asking employees how things are going, or relying solely on survey data or focus groups’ as the dominant sources of insight (problem finding).  Instead, management teams should actually ‘watch what employees do, in the same manner as an anthropologist.  That is, engage and observe how employees, customers, clients, and suppliers, etc., actually behave and interact.  This leads not only to ‘problem finding’ but more importantly recognition and appreciation for the intellectual, structural, and relationship capital (intangible assets) that are woven into each.

By conducting such observations through the lens of an anthropologist and ethnographer, management teams can become much more effective ‘problem identifiers’ and particularly adept at distinguishing – analyzing the contributory value of intangibles without interference of  misleading or over analyzed data that leads to biases and preconceptions.

Too, making these observations through an intangible asset lens, management team members are better positioned to not just identify what and how intangible assets are being used, but, if they are being used effectively, and which, if any, intangible assets need to be developed or acquired and ultimately integrated to make those processes better.

This post was inspired by Michael A. Roberto’s book ‘Know What You Don’t Know…How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen’, Wharton School Publishing, 2009.

This blog post has been researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serve as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   My blog posts focus on a wide range of issues related to intangible assets and intellectual property.   Respectfully, each post is not intended to be quick bites of unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  Should any reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, attribution is expected. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com.

Intangible Asset Problem Solving!

December 24th, 2013. Published under Intangible asset training for management teams.. 1 Comment.

Michael D. Moberly    December 24, 2013   ‘A blog where attention span matters’!

For far too many companies, the intangible assets they produce or acquire remain unacknowledged and unexploited.  The reasons are numerous, i.e.,

  1. One, to be sure, is a sense of apprehension, reluctance, and/or even the potential to encounter professional embarrassment by introducing a topic which for some may unfortunately still be controversial or may have been previously dismissed.
  2. A second reason has to do with a company’s structural complexity, i.e., multiple layers of chain of command and otherwise convoluted and confusing reporting relationships which individually or collectively make it challenging for activist messages to reach the dashboards of instrumental leaders.
  3. A third reason is the sometimes well intentioned capacity of certain staffers in proximity to the decision makers, either by design or in a ‘gatekeeper’ agenda context filter messages from below which ultimately insulate key business leaders from what can be insightful findings and perspectives.
  4. A fourth reason is that a company may require – stipulate that before fresh – innovative proposals can be brought forth, a formal analysis must occur, well beyond what may otherwise be perceived as mere intuitive reasoning or acts of spontaneity.
  5. A fifth, final, and in some respects, over-arching reason is that numerous companies and their leadership have neither trained nor conveyed receptivity to their employees to identify and bring problems, oversights, and/or challenges directly to their attention before a formal analysis has been undertaken.  Presumably, the rationale underlying such a process is to preclude raw – unrefined issues coming forward seemingly at will that are perceived as drawing, already limited time away from other operational issues and which other echelons believe warrant a higher priority and more immediate attention.

My experiences gives me confidence that one or more, or even perhaps all five reasons cited above resonate with members of many management teams.

In most business environments I have encountered where these reasons – rationales are present in one form or another, a business leader’s need to be introspective about how intangible asset related issues in their company rise, with the necessary speed, to become routine discussion – action items on their respective agendas is, as noted in previous posts, a valuable leadership attribute.

As characterized by James Drogan, a business professor at SUNY’s Maritime College, introspection among management team members consists, in part, of…

  • knowing what you know.
  • knowing what you don’t know.
  • knowing who knows what you don’t know, and 
  • knowing, when things are going really well, you’ve probably missed something!

So, with respect to the consistent challenge of business leaders’ and management teams’ overlooking and/or being dismissive of the intangible assets their company routinely produces, I offer two of eleven endorsements found in  Michael A. Roberto’s book ‘Know What You Don’t Know…How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen’, Wharton School Publishing, 2009…

  • “With the speed at which businesses can change, the ability to see around the corner is paramount to business leaders…”.  Paul Dominski, Former Vice President, Organizational Effectiveness, Target Corporation
  • ‘Discovering problems when they are still minor is a vital skill in today’s fast-moving business environment.  It is not an exaggeration to say that it is the only thing I intent to do every single day at work…”.  Shine Okake, COO, UNIQLO, USA, Inc.

So, my takeaway to readers is, spend time discovering, unraveling, bundling, and utilizing your firm’s intangible assets, because, by doing so, it will increase company value, generate sources of revenue, and lay necessary foundations for (company) growth, profitability, and sustainability!

This post was inspired by Michael A. Roberto’s book ‘Know What You Don’t Know…How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen’, Wharton School Publishing, 2009.

This blog post has been researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serve as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   My blog posts focus on a wide range of issues related to intangible assets and intellectual property.   Respectfully, each post is not intended to be quick bites of unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  Should any reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, attribution is expected. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com.

Business Culture Due Diligence

December 21st, 2013. Published under Due Diligence and Risk Assessments, Intangible asset focused company culture.. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly    December 21, 2013   ‘A blog where attention span matters’.

Yes, through some practitioner’s lens, business culture due diligence is synonymous with human due diligence.  Agreed the term culture is one with sociological roots, and of course, sociology is the study of ‘people’ interactions.  And, understanding a company’s culture, in any type of transaction, is an important component that goes toward ensuring the desired outcome(s) will be achieved as planned.

I, on the other hand, as an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist hold the view that business culture due diligence in, let’s say, a merger – acquisition context, must go well beyond prognostications about how two distinct company cultures’ will or will not effectively merge or be receptive to being united and/or positioned to create greater efficiencies, maximize distribution channels and/or mitigate overlap, etc.

Instead, I hold the view that business culture due diligence, while being a very necessary element to any and every transaction, the term ‘business culture’ itself should be distinguished in intangible asset contexts, i.e., intellectual, structural, and relationship capital.  The product of the due diligence I advocate and practice actually drills down to and distinguishes the core assets which we know underlie a transaction delivering superior vs. mediocre returns, or utterly failing.

On the downside…

As noted in previous posts regarding due diligence at this blog, an undesired outcome of engaging in a business transaction, absent the benefits and insights of a business culture due diligence action that distinguishes the intangibles in play, is that there is a significant probability a substantial loss of talent in the form of intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, will commence once rumors of a merger are uttered.  Too, this downside reality will likely escalate following an official announcement of a pending (merger) transaction.

At the 30,000 foot altitudes of deal making, and deal makers who are operationally unfamiliar with or dismissive of the contributory role and value of intangible assets, the potential problems and/or challenges posed by intellectual (structural and relationship) capital attrition for both the near and long term, may initially appear as mere blips on their respective radar screen, and thus readily dismissed.

However, through countless studies, papers, and articles, a clear picture emerges which shows companies are likely to continue to lose disproportionate levels of intellectual capital, i.e., executives and management team members long after a mergers’ execution, due to, among other things, confusion over and differences in managerial styles and decision-making.

As noted in Jeffrey Krug’s piece in Harvard Business Reviews’ (February, 2003) Forethought, titled “Why Do They Keep Leaving?”, for those individuals (and their respective intellectual, structural, and relationship capital) that remain, post merger, differences in decision-making styles will inevitably produce infighting, causing decisions to be postponed or blocked altogether.

Thus, having some assurance that the effective integration of intellectual (structural, relationship) capital will neither stall nor prompt declines in productivity is essential.  Krug’s research states that nearly two-thirds of companies will lose market share in the first quarter following a merger. By the third quarter that figure may climb to 90%.  I suspect when such disastrous outcomes occur, if due diligence was undertaken prior to deal execution, it did not engage ‘transaction critical’ intangible assets.

On the upside…

On the upside, intangible asset focused due diligence for mergers, or most any business transaction, can help deal makers mitigate, if not avoid the above types of problems and challenges altogether.  Intangible asset based due diligence will reveal and unravel these and other potential and often times unforeseen fissures and friction points in advance and make them integral to the transaction negotiations and perhaps most importantly, distinguish them in intellectual, structural, and relationship capital contexts.

The value then of conducting pre-transaction (intangible asset focused) due diligence coupled with monitoring key – contributory value intangible assets for a specified period following execution of a transaction have become imperatives which no deal/decision maker should dismiss.  After all, it is an economic fact – business reality today that 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, profitability, and sustainability globally, either lie in or evolve directly from intangible assets!

Respectfully then, excluding intangible assets, that underlie the value and rationale for most mergers, as well as many other types of transactions, from due diligence, constitutes a substantial risk which I advise my clients to avoid.  And, if the targeted company expresses unwillingness, or otherwise is not receptive to intangible asset focused due diligence it may well be a harbinger or predictor of ‘on the horizon’ challenges.  Thus, demanding a comprehensive intangible asset focused due diligence would be especially insightful.

This blog post has been researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serve as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   My blog posts focus on a wide range of issues related to intangible assets and intellectual property.   Respectfully, each post is not intended to be quick bites of  unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  Should any reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, attribution is expected. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com.

Company Culture, Intangible Assets, and Due Diligence

December 20th, 2013. Published under Company culture and reputation., Due Diligence and Risk Assessments. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly     December 19, 2013    ‘A blog where attention span matters’!

Company culture is a powerful and lucrative intangible asset, but it requires consistent due diligence, i.e., stewardship, oversight, and management, that is, if a company’s leadership wish it to remain intact.

Throughout the past 15+ years, particularly following the 2001 Brookings Institution publication of…

  • ‘Intangibles: Management, Measurement, and Reporting’ authored by Baruch Lev, and
  • ‘Unseen Wealth’ authored by Margaret Blair and Steven Wallman.

the economic fact that 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, sustainability, and profitability globally, either lie in or evolve directly from intangible assets is being minimally acknowledged as a business reality, but unfortunately, seldom executed!

Of course, there have been equally thought provoking books, articles, studies, and position papers written by subject matter experts such as Dr. Nir Kossovsky and ‘reputation risk’, Mary Adams and ‘intellectual capital’, and Jonathan Salem Baskin and ‘brand’ and many others, including my own that is scheduled to be published in Spring, 2014 on the ‘management and safeguarding of intangible assets’.

A small, but never-the-less integral component to each of these books, plus numerous other works by colleagues in the intangible asset arena, addresses the role and value of the ‘company culture’ as a powerful, lucrative, and brand building intangible asset.

For some management teams, c-suites, and boards, ‘company culture’ are elusive and imprecise which are well suited (applied) in San Jose, California’s ‘silicon valley’ technology firms which carefully manage and hype their respective work environments’ as constituting somewhat of a ‘spiritual’ environment, i.e., culture, purposefully designed and intended to be a consistent and positive driver for collaboration, creativity, and productivity.

The relevance of a positive company culture in terms of its collective ‘contributory value’ to that collaboration, creativity, and productivity, too many, is very clear and rational.

The passing of Steve Jobs (Apples’ founder) has rejuvenated interest among academics and management analysts alike to articulate a ‘before and after’ (longitudinal) picture of Apple’s culture and its potential for replication through a feature film and various documentaries that endeavor to capture his self-characterized maniacal interest in sustaining Apple’s culture of annual technological breakthroughs and product marketing instincts.

In other words, I suspect there will be numerous, presumably well intentioned initiatives to gauge the permanency, relevance, and value of a ‘company culture’ comparable to that which was obviously embedded throughout Apple.  Another film, ‘J Edgar’ depicts the evolution of an institution’s culture which lasted for 50+ years is, which of course portrays the deeply held beliefs and style of oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice’ Federal Bureau of Investigation’ long time Director, J. Edgar Hoover.

Given these two, perhaps, extreme examples, please don’t overlook the positive reality that a finely tuned and managed ‘culture’ can be a powerful revenue producing and much respected intangible asset attribute to a company.  On the other hand, a company culture that emits arrogance, which admittedly there may be a relatively fine line between arrogance and confidence, can stifle receptivity to incorporating new practices and inhibit much needed – essential introspection by company management teams.  Irrespective of Steve Jobs’ and J. Edgar Hoover’s respective maniacal managerial styles, somehow, room remained for the former at least, for linking individual and collective creativity as an expectation of performance.

In a January, 2012 article titled “Apple Without a Core,” (Report on Business) author Timothy Taylor asked how valuable ‘taste’ is, as an asset, which readers know was a consistent refrain of Steve Jobs.  Consistently projecting ‘taste’ in a product marketing and consumer context, is again, in my view, a powerful and lucrative intangible asset which many business leaders aspire and/or purport to possess, but again can be stifled or suppressed altogether by managerial arrogance or over-confidence!

To support Jobs’ perspective of ‘taste’ as constituting a valuable (intangible) asset, Taylor identifies three attributes of Apple’s brand, i.e., Jobs’

  • own sense of taste.
  • personal energy, and
  • himself, as constituting a unifying symbol to and for the company.

Having visited the Apple campus on several occasions, I found it evident, as I’m confident others did as well, ‘Jobs’ taste, energy, and unifying symbol, were truly embedded (intangible) features which much importance was attached.  As to Jobs’ sense of taste, a quote attributed to him is…

“the only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. People like symbols. So I’m the symbol for certain things.”

Without Jobs, Taylor suggests, Apple’s brand (and, presumably its culture) would be vulnerable to competitors.  We already see some evidence of this occurring now, whether it can be correctly attributed to the absence of Steve Jobs, various 2013 litigation outcomes, or some combination will, I’m confident, be subject to much debate for years to come. (The above piece was inspired by articles respectively titled ‘Defining the Value of Culture Within An Organization’ authored by Bill Bliss and ‘Apple Without A Core’, authored by Timothy Taylor.)

However, in many respects, what occurs at Apple, with respect to the sustainability (legacy) of the company culture largely attributed to Steve Jobs, reflects a common business problem. That is, c-suites, boards, and management team members frequently underestimate the significance of employee originated assets, i.e., intellectual, structural, and relationship capital as constituting underliers to a company’s culture.

Again, with respect to Apple, and Steve Jobs in particular, there is no shortage of articles, books, and papers that put forth various descriptions of the ‘apple experience’.  But, few, if any have addressed Apple, post-Steve Jobs, in an ‘intellectual, structural, and relationship capital’ due diligence context.  That readers, is what’s missing, but absolutely must be done!

This blog post has been researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serve as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   My blog posts focus on a wide range of issues related to intangible assets and intellectual property.   Respectfully, each post is not intended to be quick bites of  unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  Should any reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, attribution is expected. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com.

Managerial Introspection An Intangible Asset Positive!

December 18th, 2013. Published under Analysis and commentary, Business Applications. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly    December 18, 2013     A blog where attention span matters!

Introspection is an intangible asset positive!  That is, a leader or management team member’s ability…no, make that, desire and recognition of the necessity to be introspective, is a valuable attribute or, in the context of this post, a positive, strategic, and personalized intangible asset!

Introspection is characterized by James Drogan, business professor at SUNY’s Maritime College as…

“knowing what you know, knowing what you don’t know, and knowing who knows what you don’t know and  knowing, when things are going really well, you’ve probably missed something”…

To many readers, the above characterization attributed to Professor Drogan may sound eerily reminiscent of former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s response to a question posed to him in a Pentagon briefing regarding fighting in the Iraq and Afghanistan war.

It’s important to me personally and professionally that the context for both are distinguished, as history does not portray Mr. Rumsfeld as being introspective by nature, but perhaps he was and just hid it well when he was in the presence of media.

Martin Christopher, Emeritus Professor of Marketing & Logistics at Cranfield School of Business and author of Logistics and Supply Chain Management states that ‘introspection is valuable, important, and perhaps even critical to successful business operations’, a characterization which I am wholly in agreement.

During my 20+ years in academia, I routinely observed students quickly review my assignments, particularly essay questions, submit a rushed response, and then leave it to me to interpret what they wrote and what they meant.  This is not the kind of skill set and considered thought process I desired students to achieve and which I strongly believed is necessary to succeed in today’s global business (transaction) environment that grows increasingly competitive, aggressive, and predatorial.  In other words, even answering undergraduate and graduate level essay questions, there is a need for introspection.

Introspection is not self-doubt, nor is it personal insecurity.  Rather, introspection, as a business leader or management team member, is a desire to assure yourself, that you have done all that you can do to fulfill the various obligations which have been placed on you and presumably, those which you have willingly accepted.  That is, introspection involves the self-confidence to be intellectually receptive to…

“knowing what you know, knowing what you don’t know, and knowing who knows what you don’t know and  knowing, when things are going really well you’ve probably missed something”

More specifically, as Donald Clark puts it in ‘after action review’, introspection is about learning, i.e., what worked, what didn’t work, why it didn’t work,  what I need to do about it to make it better, and what will I do differently the next time’?  To achieve this, of course, requires personal and professional confidence, not arrogance.  I would be very hard pressed to cite one example of a leader – manager who exhibits characteristics of arrogance who would ask such questions.

Introspection is about making yourself more valuable, i.e., an intangible asset positive!

The consequences of lack of introspection in college can be significant, at least at the time, i.e., failure of a course.  My experiences in academia, suggest that unfortunately, in few instances do students perceive introspection to be an important skill that is necessary to personal and intellectual growth and a skill that will serve them well post-college.

But still, its importance needs to be demonstrated.  As ‘Monday morning quarterbacks’ most of us, in the case of business, can see, or, at least surmise the adverse consequences of leaders and managers who lack of introspection.  The consequences can be severe, leading to the failure of a new business initiative, transaction, or an entire company.

Obviously, a better environment for business executives, decision makers, and managers to learn the art and benefits of introspection are in circumstances where the consequences for not being introspective or the continuation of arrogance, are less severe.  That is through training and/or seminars, and of course, an excellent subject to kick start such an initiative is intangible assets.

People, be they under-graduate or graduate students, or busy business executives will develop and/or gravitate to the skills that either…

  • interest them,
  • or that they see as necessary to achieve success.

For example, the Brookings Institute, and numerous other economics expertise entities globally, state, matter-of-factly, that 80+% of  most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, profitability, and sustainability today either lie in or evolve directly from intangible assets.

The above economic fact – business reality should surely prompt business leaders and management teams to not leave to or wait for its interpretation by competitors, but instead, ask, introspectively, ‘what should I and my company be doing about it today’?

Thanks to my good friend and colleague Dale Furtwengler for suggesting the appropriateness of this topic.

This blog post has been researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serve as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   My blog posts focus on a wide range of issues related to intangible assets and intellectual property.   Respectfully, each post is not intended to be quick bites of  unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  Should any reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, attribution is expected. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com.

 

 

Managerial Arrogance Intangible Asset Negative…

December 17th, 2013. Published under Design thinking., Intangible asset training for management teams., Uncategorized. No Comments.

 Michael D. Moberly    December 17, 2013    ‘A blog where attention span matters’!

Arrogance is a ‘negative’ intangible asset’!  For many, that statement is certainly not ‘rocket science’, and obviously it conveys I am no fan of arrogance regardless where, how, or why it manifests in a company, organization, and among its leaders and management teams members. 

Arrogance however, is not a characteristic that resides solely with the higher echelons, that is, in some instances, it can be quite company culture pervasive and exists at most every employee level.

Through my not-so-inexperienced lens, I, probably like many readers of this blog, see managerial centered arrogance as being destructive and unconstructive to a company’s bottom line, that is, this negative intangible asset can manifest itself adversely in any company through expressions of its intellectual, structural, and relationship capital.

In my research for this post, I found an interesting piece, published in a December, 2010 issue of Business Week, titled “Twelve Signs Arrogance Is Running Your Company”.  I have taken the liberty of adapting and re-prioritizing the piece…

  • through my lens as an intangible asset strategist and risk specialists.
  • as being emblematic of what I, and numerous colleagues routinely experience when articulating the relevance, contributory value to company management teams of the business necessity to utilize and exploit intangible assets.

From the above cited article, the following represent ‘signs that arrogance is actually running a company’, that is, when

  1. innovative ideas, coming from outside the company, are deemed to hold little, if any value, and thus, are seldom given consideration, assuming the company holds a monopoly on all great ideas, thus the ‘not invented here’ attitude is a prominent and permanent fixture throughout the company’s conference and board rooms.
  2. it rationalizes mistakes and miscues instead of learning from them.
  3. it puts forth little or no effort to become a genuine partner to a merger, but instead, has designs of dominance, thereby losing the value of the culture and intellectual and structural capital (intangible assets) the other company possessed and would have otherwise delivered.
  4. management team members are observed patting themselves on their back when the company succeeds financially, when in fact, their success really derived from market forces, rather than the performance of its human, intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, each of which are intangible assets.
  5. it focuses almost exclusively on financial success with little regard for legacy and social impact, in other words, company responsibility and sustainability are given short shrift.
  6. management team members dictate far more than they listen.
  7. it hires and develops intelligent professionals, but then ‘turns a closed ear and blind eye’ to their input if it appears as nonconformist thinking, i.e., contrary to existing – past practice.
  8. it lobbies against sound regulatory reforms because of the assumption that if passed, will add complexity to the company’s currently operations.
  9. company leaders and management team members believe the company can’t fail.
  10. it underestimates, minimizes, or does not recognize today’s globally competitive, aggressive, and predatorial business transaction environment
  11. accessing top company leaders requires maneuvering through multiple layers of gate keepers, ‘chains of command’, and bureaucracy.
  12. it is observed that management teams’ focus is on amassing accouterments symbolic of success.

Arrogance, of the types noted above, by business leaders and management team members alike, can drain the bottom line, in part, because these individuals are frequently purported to be poor performers themselves, who endeavor to cover up their insecurities by disparaging subordinates, a by-product of which can produce organizational dysfunction and employee (intellectual, relationship, and structural capital) turnover.

To at least partially address this, what I am referring to here as an ‘intangible asset dilemma’, the industrial and organizational psychologist and professor Stanley Silverman developed The Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS) which will be the subject of an upcoming post.

This blog post has been researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serve as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   My blog posts focus on a wide range of issues related to intangible assets and intellectual property.   Respectfully, each post is not intended to be quick bites of  unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  Should any reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, attribution is expected. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com.

Intangible Assets Affecting Commercialization Success

December 16th, 2013. Published under Intangible asset protection, Intangible asset strategy. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   December 16, 2013   A blog where attention span matters!

First, let’s start with the economic fact that today, 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, profitability, and sustainability lie in or evolve directly from intangible assets!

The following are essential intangible asset-related questions inventors should address that will affect the commercialization success of their invention…

1.  Are intangible assets consistent discussion (action) items in management  team meetings?

2.  Do inventors’ – management teams know what percentage of contributory  value (of their invention) lies in or evolves directly from intangible  assets?

3.  Can inventors site specific intangible asset(s) emanating from  their research (invention)?

4.  Can inventors describe specifically how that –  those assets will contribute to the inventions’ value, projected      sources of revenue, and competitive advantages, i.e., commercialization?

5.  Is  an inventory and/or audit of the contributing intangible assets driving  and/or emanating from the invention being maintained, regularly assessed,  and updated?

6.  If so, does the inventory-audit include an objective assessment of  how, whether, or which contributory intangible assets continue to hold value, materiality and relevance to the invention and its inevitable spin-off      company’s core mission and strategic plan?

7. How are the inventions’ contributing intangible assets being managed, i.e., sustain control, use, ownership and monitor their value, materiality, and risk?

8.  Can you objectively assess which (contributory) intangible assets hold the highest  investor attractivity,  or market value, etc., if bundled, sold, licensed, or used in a separate  strategic alliance and/or joint venture?

9.  Can inventors objectively identify which invention-related intangible assets are most vulnerable to risk, i.e., infringement,      misappropriation, premature leakage, counterfeiting, etc.?

10.  Is there an organizational resilience (continuity – contingency)  plan in place that specifically includes contributory intangible asset risk/threat mitigation and rapid recovery from the adverse impact of materialized risk(s)?

 

This blog post has been researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serve as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   My blog posts focus on a wide range of issues related to intangible assets and intellectual property.   Respectfully, each post is not intended to be quick bites of  unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  Should any reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, attribution is expected. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com.