Companies and Management Teams Can Run, But They Can’t Hide From Intangible Assets!

January 2nd, 2017. Published under Fiduciary Responsibility, Intangible asset strategy, Intangible asset training for management teams.. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   January 2, 2017   ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’!

Let’s be clear, IA’s (intangible assets) are thoroughly and irreversibly embedded in business operability as enablers and sources of value, revenue, and competitive advantage which manifest as variations-collaborations of intellectual, relationship, and/or structural capital.

One perspective I hear voiced about IA’s with some frequency in routine encounters with company-business leadership and management teams is their over-dramatization of a perception that the introduction of IA’s to company operability requires substantial company-wide adjustments as preludes to execution.  Too, their perceptions are often conveyed with a sense of enormity, i.e., execution will entail significant outlays of time, resources, and managerial, operational, and even cultural change before returns may be realized.  Such perceptions, unfortunate as they are, will likely persist as long as business leadership and management teams approach ‘change’ to convention, past practice, or company culture, ala executing on their IA’s, through the traditional lens of (a.) how long will it take, (b.) how much will it cost, or worse, (c.) assuming their company neither produces nor possesses any IA’s that produce value, enable new sources of revenue or competitive advantage.

Aside from fiduciary responsibilities conveyed in Stone v. Ritter, which directed attention to the stewardship, oversight, and management of company’s IA’s, business leaders and management teams may act as dismissively as they wish with respect to whether they engage their IA’s or not!

My experiences suggest that when company leadership exhibits hesitancy and/or reluctance to engage their IA’s, outcomes can vary.  Yes, one is, their company may eventually ‘muddle through’.  But, when they are inevitably influenced-prompted by logic and competitiveness to engage their IA’s, such actions often manifest in crisis and/or urgency contexts.

Proceeding with IA execution, absent sufficient operational familiarity with IA’s will likely surface numerous disenchanting missteps, miscues, frustration, and minimal patience which influences an initial focus on near-term outcomes.  Such circumstances, in turn, minimize confidence in going forward, i.e., IA conversion to sources of revenue, value, and competitive advantage, in strategic contexts. Quality and thorough IA operational familiarity remains the most important step off point for execution.

It is true, some company leadership and management teams believe they can still run from their IA’s.  But, many more are finding it increasingly challenging to continue to hide from (ignore, dismiss) their IA’s!  After all, it is a globally universal economic fact that 80+% of most companies value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for future wealth creation, competitiveness, sustainability, and profitability today, lie in – derive directly from IA’s.  No hiding or running from this, unless, that is, failure is an option!

Growing numbers of us are employed in sector-specific organizations in which growing percentages of company’s which are IA intensive and dependent.  More specifically, the contributory value many of us make to our  employer – company (as employees, individuals, professionals) manifest as forms-variants of intellectual, relationship, competitive, collaborative, creative, and/or structural capital, ala IA’s.  Of course, I am not suggesting people-employees are mere collections of exploitable IA’s, indeed, we are much more than that.  In comparison, it is reasonable to consider that many of the (personal, professional) returns one receives from their education, employment, skill sets, family, leisure, etc., are genuinely intangible.  Individually – collectively each serve as potential pathways to (personal) satisfaction, fulfillment, sense of dignity, and self-worth, etc., not terribly unlike a businesses very valuable reputation, brand, image, and goodwill, etc.

In business management and organizational behavior contexts, acquiring-possessing attributes such as these and having them manifest through work (product) should come as no surprise!  Shouldn’t the same be applied to company-business operation?

Through my lens as an IA strategist, risk specialist, and trainer, for every transaction, operation, or initiative a business or company undertakes and/or engages, there are (fiduciary) responsibilities to maximize, extract, and safeguard as much value and competitive advantage as possible from the IA’s in play!  This is important because it is an undisputed, irreversible, and globally universal economic fact that, for an overwhelming percentage of companies today, 80+% of their value, sources of revenue, and pathways for sustainable growth, wealth creation, competitiveness, and reputation, lie in – draw directly from collaborations of, usually existing-internal IA’s.

In other words, growing percentages of businesses-companies, irrespective of sector, size, revenue, or maturation, are now IA intensive and dependent. This means IA’s are integral to company operability and sustainability. For example, intellectual, structural, and relationship capital as types-categories of IA’s, can manifest as operation and/or transaction specific knowhow and efficiencies, which should generally be considered proprietary. As such, IA’s are now far more than mere tools to manage other (usually tangible-physical) assets.  Instead, IA’s can be standalone or collaborative commodities with varying cycles of contributory value, functionality, materiality, and risk attached.  (Adapted by Michael D. Moberly from the work by Anne Wells Branscomb.)

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