Archive for 'intangible assets'

War and Combat Intangibles In American Films

February 10th, 2016. Published under intangible assets, Vietnam War Combat Veterans. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly February 10, 2016 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’.

Through the lens of the ‘it’s time we were asked project’ not an insignificant percentage of American films produced with a story line linkage to Vietnam War combat tend to do so by incorporating particular tracts which perhaps are intended to accommodate perceptions of generations removed focus groups, i.e.,
• a snap-shot-in-time portrayal of an observed and recorded act of extraordinary leadership and/or courage in which a soldier was subsequently honored, perhaps posthumously, with relevant citations and medals.
• a revelation of ‘what if’s and/or what should’s’ relative to a specific or series of political – military miscues, strategic – tactical misreads, cover-ups, and/or injurious fabrications, or misleading rationales or explanations.
• protests initiated by citizens (globally) particularly the United States against the Vietnam War which questioned key motivations-rationales for the U.S. government’s initiating – engaging the Vietnam War.
Of course, we recognize now that every (Vietnam War) revelation describing a strategic political-military misstep or misjudgment, was wholly without merit.

To be sure, by the time a new investigative revelation eventually sieved down to those engaged in combat in Vietnam, they were indeed disconcerting and frustrating to some. But, if my experience serves as an indicator, personnel consistently engaged in combat environs tended to be emotionally apolitical insofar as how the Vietnam War was being strategically – tactically prosecuted.

To do otherwise, i.e., exhibit a wholly anti-war posture, there was broad agreement amongst veteran combat personnel, could potentially draw one’s attention away from their combat (offensive-defensive) responsibilities and effectiveness, thereby putting themselves and others at risk. So, assuming an apolitical posture/attitude about the Vietnam War during the period one was engaged in combat was, for most, a necessary obligation because, among other things, there was no opportunity to merely ‘opt out’ or engage in protest absent significant consequences imposed by superiors, but particularly combat team members.
With this admission, it is certainly not the intent of ‘it’s time we were asked project’ to purposefully merge either in the recorded accounts of Vietnam War combat veterans’ unless the subject independently evolves at their will absent scripted influencers. Admittedly, of the combat veterans engaged for this project thus far, some have indeed expressed perspectives and opinions about one or more of the tracts described above.

Vietnam combat veterans interested in participating in and/or supporting the ‘it’s time we were asked’ project are encouraged to contact Mr. Moberly at m.moberly@kpstrat.com

Mr. Moberly is an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist and author of ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ published by Elsevier in 2014, m.moberly@kpstrat.com View Mr. Moberly’s videos on YouTube at ‘safeguarding intangible assets’ or his CNN and CNBC videos at his webpage http://kpstrat.com

Intangibles Of Combat

February 4th, 2016. Published under intangible assets, Vietnam War Combat Veterans. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   February 4, 2016 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’.

Since the withdraw of U.S. military personnel from Vietnam some 45+ years ago, there remains, in my judgment, insufficient contextual light shed on the consistent physical challenges and mental endurance of those directly tasked with engaging in combat. There are at least two generations of citizens who possess little, if any, exacting familiarity about the Vietnam War aside perhaps from observations – perceptions gleaned from films that often evolved from books, translated to screen plays and then ensconced in director’s dual assessment of presumptions about realism and box office draw.

Embedded within this of course, are various government investigative reports, cathartic memoirs (books) by government officials – military personnel who, among other things, were voices for the Vietnam war’s prosecution, i.e., analysis, policy, and/or strategy.  Too, there is an abundance of single author books which are inclined to describe particular incidents-circumstances which the author was likely to have been a participant and recognized for heroism and valor.  Many of these offerings we found, fell short of articulating the obscure and apolitical complexities and realities experienced by combat veteran’s over the course of their 365 day tour.  A high percentage of such realities encompassed physical, mental, and emotional endurance, luck, and experiential skills gleaned from emotionally taxing and unrelenting  (24/7) probability of instantaneous engagement in combat.

Of course, there were other bodies of work undertaken espousing an array of social, moral, and political agendas and investigative journalism, some of which contained insights from previously suppressed or classified documents-knowledge that had the benefit of including the inevitable ‘what shoulds’ and/or ‘what if’s’.  Too, these sources often raised new questions about (a.) the government’s rationale for engaging in the Vietnam War, (b.) war fighting strategies relative to deploying hundreds of thousands of military personnel to prosecute a war, 8,846 miles and 13 time zones away from St. Louis, Missouri, and (c.) a war that was largely rooted in Vietnam’s historic ineptness, corruption, and repetitive receptivity to being subject to multi-pronged and multi-faceted communist led insurgencies.

So, be assured, it is not the intent of this blog post, nor our ‘it’s time we were asked’ project, to lionize or demonize the Vietnam War, war in general, or combat in particular. Instead, through our ‘it’s time we were asked’ project we will be delivering (in open sources) many hundreds of unscripted, un-sequenced, and un-coached audio recordings – discussions with Vietnam War combat veterans. A key purpose of which is to bring much needed clarity about combat in war that reaches well beyond what have now become ubiquitous, but inquisitively hollow expressions, i.e., ‘thank you for your service’ or ‘welcome home’.

Vietnam combat veterans interested in participating in and/or supporting the ‘it’s time we were asked’  project are encourage to contact Mr. Moberly at m.moberly@kpstrat.com

Mr. Moberly is an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist and author of ‘Safeguarding Intangible Assets’ published by Elsevier in 2014, m.moberly@kpstrat.com View Mr. Moberly’s videos on YouTube at ‘safeguarding intangible assets’ or his CNN and CNBC videos at his webpage http://kpstrat.com

Frugal Innovation: Will It Change The Center of Global Innovation Gravity From West to East?

September 5th, 2012. Published under Frugal Innovation, intangible assets, Uncategorized. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   September 5, 2012

Is frugal innovation being oversold?  If so, can Western companies relax now?  Two relevant questions posed in an aptly titled article ‘Asian Innovation: Frugal Ideas Are Spreading From East to West (The Economist, March 24, 2012).

At this point, anyone who perceives frugal innovation, and, I include intangible assets in this milieu, as merely being another ‘flash-in-the-pan’ business mania are not only mistaken, in my judgment, they’re in for a very rude awakening.  Innovation, frugal or otherwise, is a concept, a philosophy, and a process that has acquired much warranted attention, in the last half decade, spurred in part by several key articles and now books, not the least of which was The Economist’s special report on frugal innovation in April, 2010.

Again, in The Economist’s Schumpeter column (March 24, 2012) titled ‘Asian Innovation: Frugal Ideas Are Spreading From East to West’ it’s noted that numerous firms, as well as universities, are now in somewhat of a ‘scramble mode’ to develop programs in (frugal) innovation. In large part, that’s because the principles and fundamentals of frugal innovation are  finding relevance insofar as meeting the dual (requisite) visions of (a.) do-ability, and (b.) being within reach of prospective innovators!  Translated, frugal innovation represents a principled, yet not overly structured path for developing practical innovations that initially target consumers at the so-called ‘bottom of the pyramid’.  But, with guided strategic planning, such innovations can be further developed and/or enhanced to find consumers in successive brackets of the (global) pyramid.

To be sure, advocates and practitioners of frugal innovation in the East, as The Economist’ article points out, reimagine that Western products, upon removal of unnecessary frills, will lead to such substantial cost savings that frugal ideas will (eventually) come to dominate the innovation process.  I’m confident, as others, we have not arrived at that point.  However, the interest of prospective innovators to pursue alternative – unconventional paths to innovation absent many of the traditional hurdles and/or constraints, particularly those having to do with finding a target market and securing substantial investment are indeed attractive.

“Reverse Innovation” a book written by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble, and “Jugaad Innovation” by Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu and Simone Ahuja (addressed previously in this blog), are certainly relevant and experienced guides to frugal innovation.  And, as a demonstration that the concept of frugal innovation is not wholly dismissed by the multi-nationals, Mr Govindarajan (Dartmouth’s Tuck Business School) is known to have advised General Electric on frugal innovation and co-authored a very worthy article with its CEO, Jeffrey Immelt.

A special thanks to The Economist magazine and its various articles addressing different facets of frugal innovation.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  While visiting my blog I encourage you to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to your circumstance.  Either way,  I welcome your inquiry at  314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com

Frugal Innovation: Perfect Environment for Intangible Asset Growth!

September 4th, 2012. Published under Frugal Innovation, intangible assets. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly    September 4, 2012

Simply stated, frugal innovation provides functional solutions to innovation in environments with few resources and little means, especially, emerging market countries.

Frugal innovation is best described, in my view, as a process of skilled intellectual, relationship, and structural capital emerges and merges insofar as discovering new business models, reconfiguring value chains, and/or redesigning products to serve, often times ‘bottom of the pyramid’ users where there are affordability constraints, but in a scalable and sustainable manner.

Frugal innovators identify institutional voids and resource constraints to create more inclusive markets (Bhatti, 2011).  Of course, the key word here, again, in my view, is ‘inclusive’, based on outcome (product, service) relevance and attractivity to emerging market countries and users.

Frugal innovation is different from conventional innovation primarily because the paths and strategies (tracts) to develop innovative products and/or services are geared toward, again, the bottom versus the top of the proverbial consumer pyramid. At the top of the consumer pyramid of course, lie the primary sources of purchasing power, which some assume, inevitably produces a trickle-down effect.

A ‘local phenomenon’ is how frugal innovation is often characterized, because it is perhaps best suited for emerging market countries in which entrepreneurs must make the most of what they actually control, in my view, which is their intellectual, structural, and relationship capital. And, even though it may not be consistently called that, frugal innovation is structured around developing innovation to solve problems at the most practical level, and in a sustainable manner.

In the West, conventional ‘top down’ innovation and marketing approaches, by design, at least initially, target high end clientele. Too, western practices largely use traditional, some characterize as archaic, business and distribution models that are reliant on the abundance of non-sustainable resources, which in turn, elevate product design, development, and manufacturing costs.  Collectively, advocates of frugal innovation say, this makes numerous science and technology innovations unaffordable for the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) consumers.

Frugal innovation of course, as it was initially conceived, is found (practiced) primarily in emerging market countries and purposefully targets BOP consumer markets. Depending of course on the innovation actually developed, i.e., a product and/or service, ideally progresses to successive levels of users, presumably those higher on the proverbial consumer pyramid.

Too, in actual practice, pure frugal innovators are less apt to characterize the absence of regulatory oversight or resources in emerging market countries, as representing insurmountable or stifling hurdles, rather as leverage points to mitigate the necessity, as is incumbent in the West, for significant influx of investment (for R&D).  Again, ideally, frugal innovators are likely to achieve their initial profitability from the BOP consumers, wherever they may be.

There are multiple dimensions to frugal innovation which I believe we would be well advised to become familiar.  For example, they’re not just limited to cost, manufacturing, or distribution issues.  Rather, the main theme to frugal innovation which GE’s Jeffrey Immelt is known to apply, is that it is a ‘simplification in all aspects of process and outcomes’!

(This post was inspired by the work ofYasser Bhatti, a Higher Education Commission doctoral scholar at the Said Business School, University of Oxford.)

Comments to my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  While visiting my blog I also encourage you to browse other topics (posts) of interest which may be relevant to your circumstance, which I welcome your inquiry at  314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com

 

‘The Power of Pull: How Smart Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things In Motion’

March 12th, 2012. Published under Book Review, intangible assets, Intellectual capital management.. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   March 12, 2012    (Book review with application to intangible assets.)

The persistent, asymmetric nature, and shear number of risks, challenges, and problems that companies routinely face today with respect to their intangible (IP) assets are not always reflected or addressed in conventional employee – management team training models which tend to ‘push out pre-built training’.

Conventional training methods and how they’re delivered may not be especially well-suited for knowledge (intangible asset) intensive businesses.  Exacerbating this is the go fast, go hard, go global, ultra-competitive, and predatorial business environment in which growing numbers of companies operate.

John Hagel, as most readers recognize, is a respected business consultant and author of ‘The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion’ along with co-authors John Seely Brown and Land Davison.

‘The Power of Pull’ describes the very real shift in power, which we’re now in the midst, according to the authors.  The ‘pull’ approach essentially creates circumstances which I would describe as being akin to a company culture or knowledge management program in which the right people, the right resources, and the right (relevant) knowledge (information) is easily and quickly ‘pulled’ together whenever and wherever its needed, to effectively meet a current demand or address a problem or challenge.

Too, the ‘shift’ the authors refer to is due in part to the continually evolving knowledge (intangible asset) based global business economy wherein today 65+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue and ‘building blocks’ for growth and sustainability lie directly with intangible assets.

Hagel believes conventional models for delivering company training are largely outdated and less relevant which may come as no particular surprise too many because conventional training:

  • tends to focus on the acquisition of knowledge that is already explicit and codified within a company and amongst its employees.
  • does not instill a (business) sense of anticipation, i.e., determining what training – information employees will need and when?
  • is well behind ‘the need’ curve, therefore little, if any, benefit will emerge to either a company or its employees if the same (push) delivery model continues.

Hagel’s ‘pull’ approach to training allows employees to quickly access relevant resources (information, knowledge, etc.) precisely when they need it, something which Hagel likens to the Google search engine.

Unfortunately, Hagel notes, the primary training model many companies still use is one that pushes, rather than pulls so the authors advocate companies should be building and utilizing ‘pull platforms’ for employees to access – acquire knowledge.

Another un-flattering reality Hagel notes, is that many companies continue to use a training (employee knowledge acquisition) model that does not include the ability to correctly anticipate (predict) when and how the need/demand for new knowledge will evolve in a company or quickly organize – bring the information together to accommodate the anticipated demand.

Hagel adds the need and demand for new information to solve/address a problem or challenge is frequently subject to internal miscalculations in terms of timeliness and accuracy of the information even though much of the needed knowledge – information is open source.

Companies should give favorable consideration to developing (internal) ‘pull platforms’ to accommodate that increasingly frequent and seemingly instantaneous need which, there’s little question, has become the norm for a large percentage of companies globally.

In a ‘pull platform’ as articulated by Hagel and his colleagues, the internal development of talent, knowledge, and expertise emphasizes, or perhaps is dependent upon (a.) on-the-job learning and other informal (learning) structures rather than (b.) conventionally produced (pre-built) and delivered training program.

In other words, ‘pull learning’ provides employees with the ability to rapidly confront the challenges-problems they’re experiencing through their ability to draw and/or pull out the resources needed to design-develop solutions whenever and wherever they’re needed.

Essentially, under the ‘pull technique’ employee learning becomes a by-product of the problems and challenges they encounter coupled with ever increasing requirements for measuring performance.  I suspect, and Hagel confirms, as companies take the ‘pull strategy’ more seriously, they will begin re-thinking many of their conventional practices, e.g.,

  • how the organization is designed
  • what kind of business strategy should be pursued, and
  • what kind of technology platforms are necessary to support the company and their employees in a work environment.

In addition to developing learning platforms that enable – facilitate ‘at will – on demand’ (employee) learning, moving to a fully ‘pull’ mindset approach requires, in many instances, redefining leadership.  Simply stated, in a ‘push’ world, company leadership develops a program and enlists others to follow it.

Whereas, in a ‘pull’ world, Hagel claims, it’s about helping employees develop relevant capabilities to become leaders in their own context, i.e., business unit, etc.  The goal is when employees engage an unexpected challenge or problem and are seeking, or in need of, a solution, they will have already acquired the necessary initiative and inquisitive disposition that encourages them to engage, not sidestep, the problem and find creative solutions to address – overcome it and, in the process learn from the experience.

Hagel sites three factors that are largely responsible for enabling and supporting the evolution of a ‘pull’ environment:

  • digital technology
  • economic liberalization, and
  • global competition.

Hagel suggests everything accelerates in terms of the pace of change in today’s business environment including uncertainty (risk) because, among other factors, new participants (players) have more opportunity to enter a market space and build scale very rapidly.

For further proof of the shift from push to ‘pull’, Hagel points to the long-term decline of return on (physical – tangible) assets for public companies.  Since 1965, return has gone down significantly and there are absolutely no signs this trend will reverse itself in the foreseeable future.  Replacing that of course, as previously stated, is the economic fact that today, steadily rising percentages (65+%) of most company’s value and sources of revenue evolve directly from intangible (non-physical) assets.  For Hagel, this represents ‘a huge red flag’ and all the more reason that the conventional ‘push’ strategy is no longer viable and should be changed.

All that said, many companies still don’t ‘get it’ and thus continue to hold on to the conventional practices and institutions associated with the ‘push’ business world even though it’s yielding diminishing performance.

Creating a proprietary library or body of knowledge in companies, for example, is often bound to fail Hagel argues, because they essentially keep companies and their employee’s knowledge and expertise (intangible assets) in a holding pattern of sorts.  Too, such conventional approaches do not recognize most company’s value and revenue sources have shifted from tangible assets to intangible assets, i.e., intellectual and relationship capital, unique know how, and the ability to know when, how, and where to apply (use) such know how.

Instead, Hagel asserts, companies should focus on creating effective and efficient knowledge ‘flows’, e.g., the pull world,  that allows employees to not only learn faster as the need arises, but also continually replenish their knowledge stocks, i.e., a company’s internal library if you will, of intellectual capital and unique know how (intangible assets).

A glaring reality today to Hagel’s work is that many things we come to know, at any one point in time, tend to become less useful or perhaps obsolete, given the rapidity of change in business circumstances and conditions.  He also claims, if all a company does is hold on to what it already knows and tries to defend it and extract value from (monetize) it, it’s likely to be a losing proposition.

In the current and increasingly aggressive, globally competitive and predatorial business (transaction) environment it’s essential for companies and their management teams to continually seek and find ways to engage (participate) in the diverse and expanding array of knowledge flows. Absent that, Hagel believes, we will surely see more companies falling by the wayside, in many instances because they simply had less capability or inclination to compete in a global marketplace.

Hagel also believes, and so do I, that some of the most profound learning opportunities may not actually occur within a company, rather at the edges of company operations and transactions, e.g., the structural capital found through relationships with partners, stakeholders, distribution channels, and supply chains, etc.  In other words, building and sustaining external relationships (structural-relationship capital) are two important strategies to consistently and favorably affect a company’s value, profitability, and sustainability.

So, while it may not be solely about (developing) talent within a company, it may be about a company’s foresight and ability to connect ‘talent with talent’ wherever it is, and build the relationships (structural, intellectual, and relationship capital) so talented employees can learn faster and better together.  And, I can’t agree more.

This post was dually inspired by the work of Mike Prokopeak in his article in Chief Learning Officer magazine (August 18, 2010) and John Hagel, John Seely Brown, and Land Davison’s book ‘The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things In Motion’.

Merger and Acquisition Due Diligence: Don’t Overlook – Dismiss Intangible Assets

January 6th, 2012. Published under intangible assets, Mergers and Acquisitions. No Comments.

 Michael D. Moberly   January 6, 2012

When negotiating – executing any business transaction, i.e., merger or acquisition, it’s a safe bet today that intangible assets and intellectual property (IP) will be in play and part of the deal.  That’s because 65+% of most targets’ value, sources of revenue, growth potential, and ultimately pricing lie in – evolve directly from intangible assets which include IP, reputation, brand, goodwill, relationship capital, and intellectual capital, etc., to name a few.

It should therefore, be in the interest and responsibility of the acquiring party’s due diligence team to identify and assess those (intangible) assets’ status, i.e., their stability, fragility, defensibility, and what I refer to as their contributory value.  The purpose of this not-to-be-overlooked exercise is, among other things, to determine if control, use, ownership, and value of the assets being considered for acquisition are sustainable, practically and legally, in both pre and especially post transaction contexts.

It’s equally prudent for M&A due diligence teams to:

1.  Unravel each (intangible) asset to verify its origins, ownership, and identify/assess if any (problematic) legal restrictions and/or liabilities exist that could:

              a.  inhibit complete and unrestricted utilization and/or commercialization of the assets

              b.  undermine the assets value, competitive advantages, and market position, or

             c.  add substantial (post transaction) costs for litigation and/or remedies (fixes)

 2.   Identify and assess the existence of any circumstances in which the value of the assets are at risk of being diffused  or eroded due to:

              a. the breadth of the current field of those assets’ underlying/supporting technologies, or

              b. their susceptibility to being superseded or undermined if competitors and/or economic adversaries are able to                 acquire  sufficient information/know how to launch a new (comparable) product or technology that would render those assets’ either commercially obsolete or unattractive to consumers and ultimately shorten their projected life-value-functional cycle

3.  Determine if:

              a.  any component of the acquired assets are – will be exported, and, if so,

              b. current legal protections are in place in the U.S. and internationally, otherwise, additional legal – regulatory compliance events could be triggered that may cause delays and additional costs

4.  Determine if significant asset (IP) infringement, counterfeiting, piracy, misappropriation, theft, and/or other types of asset compromises have occurred either before or as a reaction to the M&A transaction that exceed the acquiring party’s threshold for risk.

5. Determine if key intellectual-human capital ‘drivers’ (i.e., personnel) are leaving the company in advance of the M&A (e.g., going to competitors, etc.) that could adversely impact projections of near term viability and profitability of the transaction, i.e.,  sustainability, efficiencies, value, defensibility, and revenue generating capability of the assets, post transaction.    

(Mr. Moberly adapted this paper from the excellent work of L. Burke Files.)

While visiting  my blog, you are respectfully encouraged to browse other topics/subjects (left column, below photograph) .  Should you find particular topics of interest or relevant to your circumstance,  I would welcome your inquiry at  314-440-3593 or m.moberly@kpstrat.com

Intangible Assets: How A Smartly Made Small Move Can Set Much Bigger Things In Motion…

April 15th, 2011. Published under intangible assets, Training. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   April 15, 2011

One of the arguments being put forth here is that conventional models for delivering corporate training may well be outdated. That may come as no particular surprise to many!
The persistent and increasingly asymmetric nature and shear number of uncertainties, challenges, and problems that companies and organizations, and their employees, routinely face today are not always reflected in conventional (training) models that tend to ‘push out pre-built training’. The fact may well be, they’re simply less useful, if not obsolete. Exacerbating and dramatizing this of course, is that for a growing number of companies, the norm is operating in an aggressive, globally competitive, widely predatorial, and always winner-take-all business (transaction, operating) environment.

Conventional training programs are simply less relevant, John Hagel believes, particularly when considered in the context of their anticipatory nature, i.e., someone trying to anticipate in advance, what training – information people (employees) are going to need and when they’re going to need it. In that context, Hagel argues, most training tends to focus on (the presentation – acquisition of) knowledge that may well already be explicit and even codified, in other words, the training is well behind the need curve. And, when presented in this manner, as I’m confident most will agree, little, if any benefit will emerge.

Hagel, as most readers know, is an author and business consultant as are the co-authors of The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, John Seely Brown and Land Davison. ‘The Power of Pull’ is the type of book which I categorize as requiring significant amounts of reflection after reading. That is, the book conveys the on-going and very real shift in power, of which we’re in the midst, from institutions (organizations, companies, etc.) to individuals. This shift in my view, is, at least in part due to the evolution of the knowledge (intangible asset) based global (business) economy wherein today, it is an economic fact that 65+% of most company’s value and sources of revenue lie in – directly evolve from intangible assets.

The concept of ‘pull’, as Hagel, Brown, and Davison describe it in their book, is a mechanism that allows people (employees) to readily and quickly find and be able to access relevant resources (information, knowledge, etc.) precisely when they need it, somewhat akin, Hagel analogizes, to the Google and Bing search engines. But, one problem is, Hagel notes, is that the primary (training) model many organizations (companies) still use today is one that pushes, rather than pulls.

Instead, the authors advocate, companies should be thinking about building – using ‘pull platforms’ as the mechanism for (employee) knowledge acquisition, i.e., training. The pull approach essentially creates circumstances, preferably, in my view, like a ‘company culture’, in which the right people and the right resources and/or knowledge, wherever and whenever they’re needed, can be pulled in or drawn out and put to use proactively to quickly and effectively meet the need or demand.

A not so flattering reality is, according to Hagel, that most organizations (companies) operate on a model wherein the initial challenge is being able correctly anticipate – predict the when and the how demand for new knowledge (i.e., training) will evolve. Then, being able to quickly organize to make sure, again, the right people and the right knowledge and the right resources are in the right place to accommodate that (anticipated/predicated) demand, anyone, or all of which are often subject to miscalculation, according to Hagel.

The conventional (training) model of course, requires an integrated system, one that we know is increasingly difficult to sustain, especially in the rapidly changing business operating environment in which more companies each day, acknowledge they are a part, and ultimately come to operate.

So, Hagel et al, suggest, for a variety of reasons, many having to do with open source business trends many of which are literally playing out in the world before our very eyes, e.g., the ability to accurately predict and/or forecast the need and demand for knowledge. The timeliness and accuracy of such predictions has become more challenging and subject to miscalculation as we have already suggested. Thus, there is a genuine need for companies to think about those ‘pull platforms’ which can allow them to (again) draw-pull out the right people and the right resources wherever and wherever they’re needed, but quickly, to reflect-accommodate, not solely the need, but the rapid pace that indeed has become the norm for a significant percentage of companies.

In a ‘pull platform’, as articulated by Hagel and his colleagues, the internal development of talent, knowledge, and expertise emphasizes, or perhaps depends upon…
• on-the-job learning and informal (learning) structures
• rather than, a conventionally produced (pre-built) and delivered (formal) training program.

Once again, ‘pull learning’ provides people (employees) with the ability to confront the challenges-problems they’re experiencing rapidly through their ability to draw – pull out the resources needed to design/develop solutions whenever and wherever they’re needed.

Actually then, employee learning is a by-product of (employees) facing unexpected challenges and ever increasing performance requirements, Hagel says. As companies really begin to take the pull strategy seriously, Hagel expresses confidence they will begin re-thinking many of their conventional aspects/elements of operation, e.g., (a.) how the organization is designed, (b.) what kind of business strategy should be pursued, and certainly (c.) what kind of technology platforms are necessary to support the company and their employees in their particular work environment.

In addition to developing learning platforms that enable – facilitate more timely, accommodating, and flexible (employee) learning, moving to a pull mindset requires redefining leadership. In a push world, leadership means developing a program and enlisting others to follow it.

Whereas, in a world of pull world, Hagel claims, it’s about helping people (employees) develop the capabilities to become leaders in their own context, so when they’re confronting an ‘unexpected’ challenge or problem in need of a solution, they possess the initiative and inquisitive disposition that encourages them to embrace that challenge and find creative solutions to overcome it and, in the process learn from that experience.

Hagel said two factors are largely responsible for enabling and supporting the evolution of pull world, (1.) digital technology, and (2.) economic liberalization, i.e., global competition. As is obvious, the continued advancement of technology shows no sign of slowing down, which coincidentally drive more capability but, uncertainty as well, in the process.

Everything accelerates in terms of the pace of change, Hagel points out, while uncertainty (risk) increases, because new participants (players) have more opportunity to literally enter a market space and build scale very quickly, hence a more challenging (business) environment because the basis and intensity of competition can change rapidly.

For further proof of the shift from push to pull, Hagel points to the long-term decline of return on (physical – tangible) assets for public companies in the U.S. Since 1965, return has gone down significantly and there are absolutely no signs this trend will reverse itself in the foreseeable future, a housing bubble it is not! Replacing that of course, as previously stated, is the economic fact that today, increasing percentages (65+%) of most company’s value and sources of revenue evolve directly from intangible (non-physical) assets. For Hagel, this represents ‘a huge red flag’ and all the more reason that the conventional push strategy should be challenged more frequently. But, companies continue to hold on to the practices and institutions associated with the push world even though it’s yielding diminishing performance.

Cultivating (creating) a proprietary library – stock of knowledge in companies today, for example, is bound for failure some argue, including Hagel, because they represent out-of-step practices that essentially keep companies, and their employee’s knowledge and expertise (intangible assets) in a holding pattern, if not a downward trajectory that does not recognize most company’s value and revenue evolve from such intangible assets.

Instead, Hagel asserts, companies should focus on creating effective and efficient knowledge ‘flows’ (the pull world) that allows people/employees not only learn faster as the need arises, but also continually replenish the knowledge stocks, i.e., a company’s internal intellectual – intangible asset libraries.

A glaring reality today, is that many things we come to know, at any point in time, tend to become less useful or perhaps obsolete, given the rapidity of change in both (business) circumstances and conditions, Hagel says. Hagel also claims, if all one does is hold on to what they already know and try to defend that and extract value from it, it’s going to be a losing proposition!
In this kind of environment in which more companies are operating and transacting business, it’s essential, if not critical, to continually seek and find ways to participate in a more diverse and expanding array of knowledge flows. Hagel believes this, and so do I!

Hagel also believes, and so do I, that some of the most profound learning opportunities may not actually occur within a company, rather at the edges of company operations and transactions, e.g., the structural capital found through relationships with partners, stakeholders, distribution channels, and supply chains, etc. In other words, external relationships and structural capital may well be the keys to value, profitability, and sustainability.

So, it may not be solely about (developing) talent within an organization, but, in addition, how a company can connect ‘talent with talent’ wherever it is, and build the relationships (structural capital) where those talented employees are likely to learn faster and better together.

And, I can’t agree more.

This post was dually inspired by the work of Mike Prokopeak in his article in Chief Learning Officer magazine (August 18, 2010) and John Hagel, John Seely Brown, and Land Davison’s book ‘The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things In Motion’.

Categorizing Intangible Assets

April 7th, 2010. Published under Analysis & Commentary: Studies, Research, White Pap, intangible assets. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   April 7, 2010

Intangible assets are (a.) largely knowledge (know how) based assets, (b.) form increasingly larger percentages of a company’s reservoir of intellectual capital, and (c.) key tools for differentiating a company from its competitors in a market space.

The findings of a 2006 ACCA Research Report (#93) titled ‘SME Intangible Assets’ identified eight individual categories of intangible assets in companies:

1. Customer Capital Intangible Assets:  According the ACCA research there are three defining features of customer capital, i.e., (a.) the ways in which it evolves in the minds of existing and prospective buyers, (b.) the company is trusted, and (c.) the company’s products and services are appreciated.

2. Customer Relationship Intangible Assets: Represent the basis for (such things as) (a.) repeat customer sales that manifest as regular-assured sources of income, (b.) websites that provide easily navigated paths/routes for existing and prospective customers to generate enquiries, as well as (c.) a means to favorably influence existing and prospective customers thinking.

3. External Approval and Licensing Intangible Assets:  Represents the means for companies to sustain exclusivity of the intangible assets they produce, particularly the value evolving from (a.) brand name, (b.) reputation and image, and (c.) high quality endorsements.

4. Proprietary Product and Service Intangible Assets:  As management/leadership teams and boards assume stronger fiduciary positions relative to the management and oversight of intangible assets, there is a tendency for intangibles to be considered proprietary along with the underlying skills, know how, and relationships. 

5. Technical and Process Knowledge Intangible Assets:  Constitute special (proprietary) business processes, technologies, know how, and competencies that collectively contribute to companies (a.) extending the range of their competency, and (b.) consistently assess and make improvements.

6. Supplier and Input Relationship Intangible Assets: Serve as basis for differentiating companies and creating competitive advantages by providing special value-added services and privileges, i.e., access to relevant resources, and greater levels of supply chain security, etc.

7. People-Based Intangible Assets: Are employees’ collaborative demeanor, wherein their proprietary knowledge (know how and skill mixes) can be effectively incorporated to elevate value, revenue, sustainability, and growth potential while remaining difficult for competitors to replicate.

8. Learning and Growth As Intangible Assets:  Represent learning and growth capabilities within a company in terms of making substantive contributions to a companies ability to strengthen existing (intangible) assets and consistentl create new ones.

(This post was inspired by and adapted from the work of Chris Martin and Julie Hartley from a 2006 ACCA Research Report titled ‘SME Intangible Assets’)

 

Small-Medium Business’ Intangible Assets

March 15th, 2010. Published under Analysis and commentary, intangible assets. No Comments.

Michael D. Moberly   March 15, 2010

Generally, my consultancy focuses on identifying ways small and medium size businesses can profit from the intangible asset and intellectual property side of their business.  During initial meetings with management/leadership teams I address, among other things, the key objectives of an engagement, i.e., elevate asset performance, unlock and enhance their contributory value including revenue and sustainability, and the value proposition that will accrue through more effective and efficient oversight and use of intangibles.  

While the initial engagement meetings are with business management/leadership teams and/or board members, its routine, as well as very prudent, for them to pose skeptically oriented questions, especially if they perceive, and they often do, (a.) any subjectivity in the characterizations of deliverables, or (b.) intangibles being portrayed as a silver bullet and/or quick fix to create heretofore un-utilized sources of value, revenue, competitive advantage, and sustainability.

By far, the most common demands expressed by management/leadership teams during initial (pre) engagement meetings are, (1.) prove it to me with examples, and (2.) where’s the value proposition?  

These types of questions are warranted, should be expected, and the answers should not be overlooked because a consultant presumes the answers are self-evident.  Remember, all management/leadership teams and boards do not yet recognize or have yet to act on the economic fact that 65+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, competitive advantages, sustainability, and building blocks for future growth evolve directly from intangible assets. 

Therefore, the consultant must have the experience to articulate a strong and compelling repertoire of relevant, but most importantly, real world, trustworthy, and value proposition-based responses to those important questions.  Absent that, an intangible asset management and protection consultant should not become optimistic about receiving a (second chance) follow-up meeting.

But, I often believe, respectfully so, the way management/leadership team members frame those questions:

1. are not so much oriented to intangible assets specifically as they evolve from one-size-fits-all templates for questioning vendors regardless of the product or service being pitched, and also, they

2. underly various levels of misunderstanding and operational un-familiarity with either the existance or utilization of the intangible asset side of a business.

I engage, on a daily basis, the real world of small-medium businesses, which include founders, owners, management teams, and boards who, in the midst of this recession, are personally skeptical about ‘quick fixes’ or ‘silver bullets’ particularly when their credit lines have been marginalized, if not cut off, and lending sources are moot to their requests and even more likely to dismiss out-of-hand even the best articulated and structured proposals for (intangible) asset monetization or asset backed lending.

Small and medium-size businesses in the U.S. however, are 20+ million in number, deliver approximately 39% of the GDP, and reportedly produce two and one half times as much innovation per employee compared to larger firms according to various sources and studies including the Small Business Administration.  The bottom line is, small and medium sized business produce (possess) intangible assets that deliver value, revenue, sustainability, and serve as a foundations (viable building blocks) for growth and future wealth creation.  It’s time to believe it and act on it!

 

 

Value Proposition Pitches For Intangible Asset Services…

March 2nd, 2010. Published under Analysis and commentary, intangible assets, Value Propositions. 1 Comment.

Michael D. Moberly   March 2, 2010

All value proposition statements (pitches) should be framed, sequenced, and articulated so that a management/leadership team audience will likely interpret-assess the subject matter and objectives similarly in terms of relevance, importance, usefulness, and application, etc., to them and their companies!  Obviously, this represents a significant and relatively complex challenge to achieve in a time restricted ‘pitch’! 

In addition, a value proposition statement should include:

1. a clear, believable, and understandable statement of the tangible – quantifiable results that will be delivered, i.e., the added value a client will – can expect to experience and when. 

2. logical and evidence-based linkages – paths between the product and/or service being pitched and how it will favorably impact the audience’ business, i.e., benefits, returns, address unmet needs. etc.

Value proposition pitches that focus exclusively on intangible asset services must, in addition to the above, include statements to:

1. to influence management/leadership teams to acknowledge that a company’s intangible assets reach well beyond the conventional brand, reputation, image, goodwill, and IP.

2. to identify the mandated fiduciary responsibilities relative to managing, utilizing, protecting, and effectively exploiting a company’s intangible assets, i.e., Stone v Ritter, Delaware, 2006.

3. that give credence to the economic fact that 65+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, building blocks for growth and sustainability lie in intangible assets, and are not merely ‘sound byte’ cliches, rather they’re business (economic) realities.

4. bring clarity and understanability to the reality that intangibles ‘lack physicality’ by providing examples that minimize managerial skepticim and dismissiveness about the contributory and exploitative value of a company’s intangible assets. 

A good ‘value proposition’ pitch for intangible asset services can also include insights reported in Accenture’s recent national study, i.e., ‘50% of companies today rely on intangible assets and intellectual capital as their primary drivers of value, but only 5% (of the reporting companies) have internal controls, procedures, and processes in place for the stewardship, oversight, and management of those assets at the board and c-suite levels respectively!