Archive for May, 2015
Michael D. Moberly May 22, 2015 ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!
Trust between employers and employees and companies and customers (clients, consumers, etc.) is an essential and very relevant IA (intangible asset) to most company’s profitability and sustainability, irrespective of sector. Through my lens, at least in business contexts, trust is embedded in – translates as relationship capital and reputation, additional key IA’s, and, as such, play increasingly significant roles in articulating, materializing, and sustaining a company’s value proposition. But trust, like many other ‘business’ terms, are frequently prey to individualized definition and translation.
Sarcastically, when I see – hear one, in a leadership role, take a podium to evangelize about the importance of trust, I find it prudent, to recognize who, for what purpose, and the context in which they are endeavoring to characterize trust. In other words, I often find expressions of trust to be circumstance and/or context specific, but sprinkled with sufficient commonalities tantamount to self-serving glue that allows the definition to retain a semblance of palatability.
Trust, like numerous other business terms, is receptive to being defined in a manner that reflects a speaker’s circumstance to casts them in a preferred (positive) light vis-à-vis their customers, clients, superiors, and/or consumers, something which I would advise Barclays, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, and the Royal Bank of Scotland, aka “The Cartel” to not try waste resources to argue, for some time, once again.
Aside from the financial services sector, many of us remain inclined to feel that someone whom we presume possess perspectives and values similar to our own can, and should be worthy of our trust. Thus, we would likely be receptive to their overtures. More specifically, when I am engaged with individuals, in business and IA management-safeguard initiative, whom there there is evidence of shared commonalities, it’s likely I will be inclined – receptive to feeling they have my interests in mind.
That sense of course, emanates from another assumption which is, one’s present – past experiential commonalities serve as emotional entrées to trust. One might go so far as to suggest when we are surrounded by people whom we believe are like us, there will be a reciprocating inclination of trust.
Trust is a feeling, and thus a distinctly human experience says Simon Sinek. But, merely doing everything one has expressed – been interpreted as a promise you would do, does not robotically mean people will trust you. Instead, it more objectively translates that you may be reliable. To drill down further on this, most of us have friends who, by reasonable standards of assessment, could be characterized as not being particularly reliable or trustworthy, yet, because they are like us, we are inclined to trust them and remain friends, claims Sinek.
Trust is important because, when one is in the presence of individuals with shared beliefs, we are more confident – receptive to engage in some level of risk taking, experimentation, or exploration which, it’s likely we would not be inclined to do otherwise. After all, our personal – professional survivability and sustainability are, arguably dependent upon our ability to surround ourselves – serve with others with shared beliefs!
(This post evolved from NPR’s ‘Ted Radio Hour’ that aired on May 15, 2015, hosted by Guy Raz with a segment conducted by Simon Sinek, an adjuct to RAND Corporation.)
Michael D. Moberly May 14, 2015 ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!
The absence of intangible assets in B-school curriculum is tantamount to business education heresy. Some years ago, while preparing to teach a management course, I framed and sequenced course materials to reflect my determination and eagerness to introduce MBA students not merely to IA’s, but strategies related to managing them, mitigating risks, sustaining ownership, and understanding their competitive content and contributory value.
It’s essential IA’s be incorporated as teaching-learning elements to b-school’s undergrad and graduate programming, if, for no other reason than steadily rising percentages (i.e., 80+%) of most companies’ value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, profitability, and sustainability evolve directly from these non-physical asset class, particularly, intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, brand, reputation, goodwill, competitive advantages, and intellectual property, etc.
Upon commencing this MBA course, I quickly introduced students to intangible assets and affirmed they would be integral learning objectives to the course. Just as quickly, it became clear, with one exception, that, for even the most experienced and employed students, intangible assets were not part of their lexicon, repertoire of talent, or skill sets, save for one student who did acquire a limited, but far from operational familiarity for specific types-categories of intangible assets once they were pointed out. But that familiarity was generally limited to intellectual property (patents primarily), reputation, and brand. Student generally characterized intangibles in standalone – individualized contexts, not reliant on or connected to other company assets.
End of course teaching assessments coupled with student responses to essay questions related to intangible asset issues revealed challenges remained, particularly achieving a sufficient (operational) grasp of intangibles in several key areas, e.g., how…
- IA’s could be subject to a collective framework of (asset) management, stewardship, and oversight.
- to recognize and assess IA’s contributory value (to a company, a particular product, service, or other broader initiative.
- to distinguish particular IA’s as contributing to – being drivers of specific sources of revenue, and
- the assets’ could be persistently vulnerable to various and asymmetric risks which, once materialized, would erode and/or undermine company value, the benefits of competitive advantages, (company, product) reputation, and new product launches, etc.
Respectfully, IA’s represent a variously challenging concept to grasp and apply in value-add, revenue generation, monetization, and exploitation contexts, to name just a few. As for this course, I sensed then, and still do, that an important conceptual hurdle to understanding intangible assets along with achieving some level of operational familiarity, may reside in the word ‘intangible’. That is, IA’s lack a conventional sense of physicality, unlike tangible (physical) assets which one can see, touch, and report on balance sheets and financial statements.
Again, respectfully, this was, for these MBA students, their initial introduction to IA’s. In part, their lack of familiarity is a reflection of shortcomings in the larger business community that still struggles with how to effectively and efficiently engage and utilize the intangible assets their company – organization produces or acquires.
As the nine week course progressed, a significant percentage of the students appeared to concede the role, function, and contributory value of intangible assets. It’s worth noting, one student with an especially progressive career in financial services, clearly conveyed he was grasping IA’s, however, he consistently challenged, even resisted the positive spin I was endeavoring to espouse regarding the relevance and contributory value of intangible assets across all industry sectors.
This particular student articulated his reticence by describing numerous multi-million dollar loan and acquisition transactions which he personally oversaw, throughout which there was absolutely no mention, recognition, or accounting of intangible assets being in play, in either valuation, collateral (securitization) or due diligence contexts.
At the conclusion of the last class, this student said to me in a respectful, yet very definitive tone…”I understand what you’re saying Mr. Moberly about IA’s, but I just don’t see IA’s ever becoming an issue in my bank as you are suggesting they should and will, at least while the current (bank) officers remain in place. In my bank, it’s solely about identifying and assessing the value of physical assets as collateral”.
Of course, the point to all of this is, does the same attitude and perspective hold true for business management teams, c-suites, and boards, in general? To be sure, attitudes toward and fundamental operational familiarity with IA’s is changing as the economic fact – business reality becomes clearer, i.e., 80+% of most company’s value and sources of revenue emanate from IA’s.
Introducing intelligent, seasoned, and already successful business decision-makers, boards, and management teams to intangible assets, and that the time they devote to learning about intangibles, their valuation, and strategies to effectively use and extract value from them, along with the necessity to safeguard and monitor the assets’ value, risk, and materiality are indeed worthy of their time. Unfortunately however, intangible assets remain somewhat of a hard sell!
May 12th, 2015. Published under Organizational resilience and business continuity/conti. No Comments.
Michael D. Moberly May 12, 2015 ‘A blog where attention span really matters!’
In my corner of the business world where 80+% of most company’s value and sources of revenue lie in – evolve directly from IA’s (intangible assets), it’s routine for me to cross paths with very astute, experienced, and financially successful company management team members (c-suites). Somewhat ironically, at least through my lens, many quite cavalierly express the view that it’s impossible to eliminate all (business) risk. I have come to interpret, quite correctly I believe, that mantra is symbolic of the subjective manner in which many c-suites treat risk.
My response to such views is usually to politely hedge a little by suggesting it is possible to mitigate a large percentage of most business’ risk! However, and here comes the hedging part, the resources a company may have to dedicate – reallocate to a (risk) mitigation initiative, and the resulting restrictions, subjective as they may be, would likely be embedded with some untenable impracticalities.
Regardless of how subjective risk mitigation may be, at least how I see it being practiced. Few organization decision makers would knowingly assume risk mitigation practices that would…
- impede operation effectiveness and efficiency or disturb the flow and integration of IA’s,
- particularly intellectual, structural, relationship, and competitivity capital.
Any company doing so would rapidly find its viability, profitability, and sustainability substantially undermined, if not ‘go to zero’, unless of course, those assets were transferrable.
Through my lens, there are a significant, but actually unknown percentage of companies in which their tolerance – appetite for risk…
- varies over time and is often circumstance – transaction specific, i.e., influenced by…
- the products – services a company produces, delivers, and its target customers.
- the perceptions – beliefs held by c-suites and boards regarding business risk climate.
- a prior adverse experience or shared anecdote from another company.
- the manner and locations in which a company interacts with – engages its primary markets, i.e., customers, supply chains, and myriad stakeholders.
According to Dr. Marc Siegel, a globally respected organizational resilience specialist, there are ways to measure and assess a company’s tolerance – appetite for risk. Most, Siegel says are dependent on their
1. Experience, e.g., the confidence level held by company management teams’ acquired largely through their familiarity with current and over-the-horizon risks, coupled with their (perceived) capabilities to effectively manage (prevent and/or sufficiently mitigate) such risks.
2. Resiliency – e.g., if or when a significant (business) risk materializes, are there policies and practices in place to (a.) mitigate – minimize the criticality produced by the risk, and (b.) rapidly return the company to a state of operational and financial – revenue normalcy in a reasonable time frame before risk resiliency is irreversible. Achieving such a desired level of risk resiliency includes minimizing the fragility and vulnerability of company’s – business unit’s intangible assets, particularly intellectual, structural, relationship, and competitive capital for the duration of the risk event.
A related question I routinely pose to management teams, focuses on how they (presumably) achieved consensus to accept or tolerate particular levels of risk relative to a specific transaction, new venture, strategic alliance, etc.? The answer is frequently some variation to the proverbial…
‘risk is an inherent feature of doing business and all successful business persons are inherently risk takers’.
I approach business risk a little differently in terms of understanding why and how I may respectfully influence management teams, boards, and c-suites, already inclined to have a greater appetite for – tolerance of certain (business) risks and not others. I find it’s frequently due to…
- types and levels of risk are subjectively measured – assessed to be low, in terms of vulnerability and probability, but extraordinarily high in criticality,
- making the cost of mitigation, i.e., risk transfer, etc., exceed potential (prospective) benefits, thus self-insurance or elevated tolerance for risk appear to be the prudent, near term option.
- the asymmetric nature of business risks, i.e., their magnitude, frequency, criticality, and cascading potential, while factoring the type of product or service a company produces, is beyond the capabilities of most to consistently prevent or mitigate.
- companies’ anticipated – projected business opportunities associated with assuming a certain level of risk, outweigh risk exposures to the point that a management team can justify – rationalize executing a particular transaction or new initiative and therefore assume a substantial portion of the risk.
(This post was inspired by the work of Dr. Marc Siegel and his work related to organizational resilience on behalf of ASIS International.)
Michael D. Moberly May 8, 2015 ‘A blog where attention span really matters’.
Competitive (business) intelligence is alive and well and it’s certainly not all cyber-based even thought there is an abundance of off-the-shelf data mining software available that mitigates the tediousness and time associated with conventional approaches to business intelligence collection.
Perhaps what concerns me most has been the continued expansion of ‘legacy free players’ (Thomas Friedman, ‘The World Is Flat’). My definition of ‘legacy free players’ is quite similar to that of Mr. Friedman’s, that is, these individuals/groups may not be necessarily aligned with or employees of nation state sponsors which are frequently technology dependant and sophisticated, or even organized units/cadres of economic spies. Instead, ‘legacy free players’ are, for the most part, independent operators or groups of individuals whose country of origin and cultural perspective about honoring the proprietary information originated by – belonging to others is a relatively new concept insofar as respecting personal, let alone intellectual property rights. In other words, there is an absence of legal, social, or cultural legacy to others’ properties of the mind, i.e., intellectual – human capital.
Setting that aside for the moment, of all the business leaders and management team members I have had the good fortune of conversing over the past 25+ years, when I introduce the subject of competitive intelligence, a substantial percentage of the time, their initial response is embedded with favorable rationalizations ranging from…
- everybody does it, to
- one is foolish if they don’t engage in some manner of competitor – business intelligence.
I am aware of no original research – objective data to indicate such characterizations are as accurate as business leaders assume, based on my many years of work-research in this arena, one would be well advised to consider the consistency of the responses suggest a significant percentage of businesses regularly engage in some level – form of competitor-business intelligence.
While their (intelligence) collection and analysis techniques may not be as sophisticated, analytical, or strategically oriented as those conducted by the countless private (independent) competitor intelligence firms operating globally, the information targeted and collected usually provides business decision makers with useable prognosticative insights variously related to the plans, intentions, and capabilities of competitors, i.e., what they are doing, have done, or, are about to do!
Simply stated, I find the adverse affects (of competitor – business intelligence) usually materialize in one of four ways, that is, the purpose, intent, and/or objective are to…
- undermine, erode, stifle, and otherwise get ahead of a competitors’ initiatives, competitive advantages, market position, and strategic planning.
Any company’s efforts to counter or mitigate the very real adverse affects of competitor intelligence begins with understanding one’s own company’s IA’s (intangible assets). This means recognizing that IA’s comprise increasing percentages – 80+% of most company’s value sources of revenue and ‘building blocks for growth, profitability, and sustainability! More specifically, IA’s are the real drivers – underliers to company’s value and sources of revenue which are precisely what competitor-business intelligence operatives are seeking, whether, I might add, they actually realize it or not!
Michael D. Moberly May 7, 2015 ‘A blog where attention span really matters’!
We’re well into the 21st century and the contributory role IA’s (intangible assets) consistently play as value, revenue, and competitive advantage generators, is recognized at the 5,000 foot elevation among business communities globally, but, there is little corresponding evidence that business leaders are actually engaging their IA’s.
At the 5000 foot level, it’s a well known economic fact – business reality that steadily rising percentages, i.e., 80+%, of a most companies’ value and sources of revenue emerge directly from IA’s.
THE question is, what factors are being assumed by business leaders that influence substantial numbers to dismiss, disregard, and otherwise over ride this economic fact – business reality even though engaging their IA’s could benefit their company in numerous ways.
Frankly, I sense no particular urgency, among the leadership of the U.S., and perhaps global business communities to willingly engage their companies IA’s in strategies to maximize and extract as much value and revenue as possible.
Cutting to the chase! I, like other national – international voices advocating greater recognition and utilization of intangible assets, meet with astute, intelligent, and extraordinarily talented and successful business leaders who are apt to use sophisticated techniques to schedule employee work schedules to minimize overtime pay, but, mention the words intangibles or intangible assets and eyes glaze over!
Equally puzzling is, why aren’t these business decision makers acting on this factual, irrefutable information, whether it comes from blog posts like this or other ‘higher’ sources? Why are these sources of – contributors to organization-wide value and revenue which are literally‘ within hands reach’ being overlooked, neglected, or, in some instances, dismissed outright?
In part, the lack of business leader enthusiasm for intangible assets can be attributed to…
- accountant’s governed by law and practice standards, have no particular motivation or obligation to delve too deeply in clients’ IA’s other than what is attributable to goodwill.
- faux strategic planning which is more akin to near term – quarterly-based projections that preclude discussions regarding IA utilization or monetization…
- ill-informed inclination to assume – characterize IA’s as being synonymous with IP (intellectual property), which serves as rationale for business leadership to attach little relevance because IP matters are contextually structured to be legal only.
- self-deprecating assumptions by some business leaders, irrespective of their success, that their company neither produces nor possesses any valuable – competitive advantage intangible assets, worthy of the time and expense to identify and assess.
- intangible assets absence of physicality, i.e., having no tangible or conventional physical presence.
- presumed consultants’ who inappropriately, and perhaps unwittingly, characterize the identification, unraveling, assessment, and extraction of value, revenue, and competitive advantages from intangible assets as being too complicated, time consuming and producing little ROI.
Understanding and taking affirmative steps to maximize and extract as much value and competitive advantages as possible from the IA’s a company develops, is not rocket science, it’s just good business!
Michael D. Moberly May 4, 2015 ‘A blog where attention span really matters.!
I am confident an experienced business person who possesses an operational familiarity with intangible assets…could devise a viable and mutually receptive strategy to ‘monetize’ un-used, under-used, or ineffectively used IA’s (intangible assets) emanating from public service – policing cultures.
This suggestion is not a poorly disguised twist for continuing to utilize traffic citations as sustaining a revenue pipeline for municipalities…Instead, when it comes to policing and the variously nuanced operational cultures that quite naturally, yet invariably evolve, there remain a percentage whose mission statement and culture emanates from a conventional – time honored ‘protect and serve’ model or some variation. Unfortunately, the ugly realities of some police cultures have surfaced in Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore, and other cities over the past 9-12 months. Citizens have witnessed the rudderless ambiguity of such presumptive branding that is, at minimum we find to have become irreconcilably disconnected from its citizen consumers.
The ‘protect and serve’ models have their origins in another period of U.S. law enforcement reformation which commenced in the early 1970’s following the deeply rooted tensions embedded in urban areas throughout the U.S. which sparked hard and tragic lessons which it is certainly not rocket science to draw valid comparisons to what has been witnessed of late. To suggest otherwise is to ensure repetition is just another generation away.
The objective here is to not ‘naval gaze’ on the actions of a few, remove them and quickly, but translate the principled actions of the vast majority…into policing intangible assets that deliver – generate value to citizens and their communities and neighborhoods on many levels. In most instances the assets, intangible as they are, can be individually or collectively ‘monetized’ as internal pride and external responsibility – attractivity for infrastructure investments.
Let’s not delude ourselves that policing ‘brand’ which has been revealed in such public ways, particularly since August, 2014, will not be ‘re-branded’ easily or quickly. Citizens are far to realistic and savvy for that. Here, time and constructive and affirmative action and behaviors are the predicates to effective and meaningful (culture) re-branding.
Now please, bear with me while I explain what I mean by ‘monetizing’ police culture…yes, I am an advocate of genuinely exploring strategies for ‘monetizing’ communities’ IA’s produced by normative cultures, but, such initiatives have two key components, i.e., they require…
- leadership and foresight to recognize the intangible economic – competitive advantage benefits that will accrue to communities that execute well defined and normative (public service and public safety) cultures, and
- understanding about how to effectively exploit those assets for their value-add features, i.e., community-neighborhood reputation, goodwill, image, and existing and prospective user attractivity, etc.
Specifically, public safety departmental cultures can be legitimate and exploitable (IA) catalysts to illustrate a community – neighborhood record of consistently safe, receptive, inclusive, and an otherwise attractive locale worthy of investment(s) in business, education, property value, and the critical symbolism framed by ‘we care what happens’!
A starting point is recognizing that in most instances, an organization’s culture is a verb, not a noun…in other words culture development and maintenance requires action, leadership, and consistent monitoring in order for a normative (police) culture to materialize and become self- sustaining.
Public safety department cultures are nothing particularly new…they have existed for generations. In the present context however, once a culture of like-minded individuals (employees) band together for reasons other than professional camaraderie, problems and challenges are all but sure to follow!
For a myriad of reasons and rationales, some individuals are compelled to seek out and band together with other like-minded individuals for defense, mutual support, or to accommodate a felt or acquired personal need which in turn, may manifest into an accumulation of very personalized IA’s, i.e., reputation, image, perceptions, affiliations, intellect, capabilities, fears, etc. In these circumstances, a cultures’ rationale sometimes intensifies prejudice and xenophobic attitudes antagonistic toward particular groups of citizens, i.e., racial, ethnicity, etc.
Organizational cultures, and the sub-cultures either can spring are often intertwined collections of IA’s embedded in individual – group sociology and psychology…the product and presence of which may be the product of perception or direct observation, i.e., as sets of actions or inactions which either adhere to or disregard social norms, departmental policies, or the law.
Long before there is evidence that an organization’s culture has gone ‘off its rails’ by deviating from its core, police leadership have an obligation to take action to modify it, ensure its return to a true state, and then monitor it…which are, in essence, fiduciary duties – responsibilities for taking the necessary steps to re-direct that subcultures’ rationale and monitor it for assurance and compliance.
Of course, when a (sub-) culture of negativity becomes rooted in – receives its spirit from higher echelons of a departmental or city administration, the positive actions and interactions of an individual officers can seldom sufficient to favorably influence the whole or quickly reverse what individual ‘bad actors’ may have already done.
In those instances, my counsel to good officers is to resign yesterday and seek employment in departments with leaders who recognize the all important but often unrecognized IA’s officers bring and deliver to each shift.
Integral to any prescription for reclamation – reversal of an already adverse (police) culture, is recognizing…that police are routinely the quintessential first responders to community and neighborhood challenges, particularly where there has already been multi-generational neglect and dismissiveness which can cascade into adjacent areas. It’s reasonable to conclude then, adverse police cultures are often products of a generation of mutual disintegration of trust which spark persistent antagonism and tension.
Ironically, circumstances like this and become entrées and rationales for collaborative culture leadership…by putting in place (oversight, monitoring, and assessment) practices which respect a community’s socio-economic circumstances.
But, cultivating a normative organizational culture for policing and public safety…requires principled and thoughtful leadership, wisdom, time, and the intellectual curiosity to recognize factors that influence culture development and sustainability. There are ample (anecdotal) indicators that ‘good to great’ leaders are concerned about it, pay attention to it, endeavor to achieve it, and realize it’s important to monitor it. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all or snap-shot-in-time methodology to repair or develop a proper organizational culture that fully matures overnight.
Seldom can positive organizational cultures be wholly replicated elsewhere by a competitive organization…admittedly the term competitor may appear more relevant to private – for profit sectors rather than police – public safety departments
Through my lens however, the community wide competitive advantage deliverable by public sector (policing) entities particularly those serving urban, lower socio-economic communities and/or neighborhoods experiencing gentrification.
Again, as a long time intangible asset strategist and risk specialist, I am confident, city administrators would find it beneficial to explore how their public service and public safety cultures’ can materialize to produce valuable and sustainable competitive advantages.