Archive for 'Strategic Planning'
Michael D. Moberly December 28, 2016 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters!
As an IA (intangible asset) strategist, risk specialist, trainer, and speaker, it is my passion to guide companies and clients to recognize the business imperative to develop, assess, safeguard, and exploit their IA’s and convert them to sources of revenue, value, and competitive advantage!
As an IA strategist, the primary emphasis much of my work, on behalf of businesses and client’s, is its focus on ‘the revenue and competitive advantage side’. I find many companies and management teams invariably contend, some dismissively, others receptive to engaging the nuanced challenges and difficulties regarding their IA’s.
In the (IA) conversion processes, challenges may also emerge over control, use, ownership, and origination of particular IA’s. The materialization of either can impede not only the conversion process, but also, the projected and profitable execution of new initiatives or transactions when IA’s are in play, or possibly even provoke a party to, quite literally walk away. In today’s go fast, go hard, go global work (process) environments, unraveling and resolving business challenges or disputes about the utilization and value of IA’s warrant rapid and multi-faceted attention linked to strategic outlook and planning.
I am not suggesting all business challenges derive from misunderstandings or misgivings about IA’s, or, for that matter, adversely affect IA’s in play. However, accepting the universal economic fact that 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, sustainability, and future wealth creation today, lie in – derive directly from IA’s, it’s prudent to expect there will be more business challenges related to the manner-in-which key – in play IA’s are – can be developed, acquired, valued, monetized, safeguarded, and applied in every conceivable type of transaction.
Moreover, IA development, valuation, application, and safeguards are being realized-accepted as business operation norms, not to be cordoned off as the exclusive (do not touch) domains of legal counsel and/or accounting. This makes it all-the-more essential to have, at the ready, sufficient IA operational familiarity from which deliberate, lucrative, tactical, and competitive decisions will emerge rapidly, and at will. Collectively, IA operational familiarity will mitigate most potentialities for the materialization of risk, impediments, and/or adverse (uncompetitive, non-producing) outcomes to new initiatives or transactions.
Large percentages of business relationships and transactions today develop-advance on-the-basis-of ultra-valuable and competitive advantage IA’s being in play. As such, the stakes and outcomes are consistently high. It is here that I believe, respectful and genuinely collaborative IA strategists – specialists, as myself, are positioned to…
• provide counsel – guidance for identifying, unraveling, and assessing (IA dominated) circumstances, and
• develop lucrative-competitive strategies to benefit company’s and/or client’s, mitigate risks, and identify
opportunities for further exploitation of IA’s.
To be sure, paradigms, ala the globally universal (business) shift, wherein today, 80+% of most company’s value and sources of revenue arise from non-physical – intangible assets, and substantially less so from physical – tangible assets warrants, in my judgment, respectful training, ample proof of concept, examples of successful application, and indeed, leadership. Unless or until I am invited into a business or client mass to execute each, excuses by leadership to ignore or dismiss IA’s and their contributory role and value that’s rooted solely in convention or past practice, is indeed, short-sighted.
My sense of being professional, i.e., a consultant, risk specialist, trainer, and speaker regarding matters related to IA’s is…
• not founded solely on a conventional business model of maximizing numbers of engagements and calculating-differentiating costs and revenue.
• to serve as a learned venue to respectfully articulate and elevate businesses operational familiarity with their IA’s, which is being achieved through my 720+ long form posts at the ‘Business IP and Intangible Asset Blog’ I created in 2006, and the 70+ national and international presentations, seminars, and invited (small group) discussions.
• to avoid commencing any engagement by undemocratically assuming my experience, intellect, and work products exceeds or subordinates comparable qualities held by companies, firms, management teams, and clients.
• to emphasize – demonstrate IA development must strategically mesh with revenue generation, value creation, and competitive enhancement.
• to bring relevance and clarity to IA operability that is embedded with respectful guidance for applying IA’s strategically, profitably, and mitigate, as much as possible, the inevitable risks.
Michael D. Moberly September 8, 2014 A long form blog where attention span really matters!
In this increasingly intertwined economic, political, and business global environment, we should come to recognize that neither citizens nor governments’ experience much, if any, strategic effectiveness/benefits by engaging in policies, military or diplomatic, which are understandably preceded with a “degrade and destroy” message. In other words, the ‘isms’ of terrorism, are treated as if they are tangible or physical assets, rather than intangible (non-physical) assets, and hence, once destroyed, contained, or substantially degraded, become irreplaceable or irreproducible in their previous form.
Yes, the terrorists themselves along with a large percentage of the acts they engage are very physical and tangible entities and absolutely despicable acts as are the horrifying and animalistic brutalities some participate. But, in large part their motivations and the associated ‘isms’ are strewn with and embedded, in an especially perverse sort of way, with intangibles, i.e., intellectual, structural, and relationship capital.
That is, the ‘isms’ embedded in much of the terrorists’ acts which we have seen and read about, particularly in recent weeks, regarding ISIL, are comprised of conglomerations of highly dogmatic manifestations in thinking, processes, and relationships. What’s more, these manifestations of intangibles have morphed into magnets in which single-minded ruthlessness has morphed into an inexplicably attractive recruiting mechanism.
That is not to suggest governments and all of their respective defense might are incapable of mitigating or defending against the ‘isms’ of global terror. But, if one examines and responds to terrorism through an intangible vs. tangible asset lens, perhaps the range of potential methodologies and options would look differently and the outcomes more desirable. A plausible possibility, right?
Respectfully, and most understandably, conventional anti-terrorism initiatives, while they may prompt immediate feel good responses in as much as they may ‘cut off the head of the snake’ as conveyed by General Colin Powell, former Chair, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gulf War I. It’s quite clear, such tactics alone, seldom, if ever, produce the desired strategic change deeply embedded in hundreds of years of sect mistrust, war, and terrorism. Again, the ‘isms’ have become highly personalized often through individualized receptivity to radicalization in which intellectual, structural, and relationship capital (intangible assets) serve as underliers to the ‘isms’ of terror, which unfortunately often remain simplistically characterized as ‘winning the hearts and minds’ of an adversary.
Radicalization manifest as one transforms, re-purposes, and seeks congruence to their newly adopted intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, through alignment and/or participation in a terrorist organization.
Admittedly, I am an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist and direct my experience in intellectual, structural and relationship capital matters to serving the (private) business sector. I was also an airborne infantryman assigned to the 173d Airborne Brigade in Bin Dinh Province of South Viet Nam in 1969 in which there where both highly tangible military and intangible humanitarian tactics applied. The outcome…
As always, readers comments are most welcome.
Michael D. Moberly June 17, 2014 ‘A long form blog where attention span really matters’.
Conventional strategic planning irrelevant if intangible assets are not at the center…
The increasingly competitive business terrain in which know how and other intangible assets have become the overwhelmingly dominant drivers and producers of value and revenue is clearly prompting many companies to re-examine the relevance of their often times, conventional and even static business plans and mission statements.
I am not suggesting there is anything inherently wrong with continuing to write business plans and mission statements, because they frequently do serve as a descriptive (Gannt Chart type) of roadmap of what leaders want their business to eventually look like and how to get there!
But, for analogous purposes, some (management teams, boards) are inclined to view business plans and mission statements in a ’constitutional’ like fashion, i.e., either as a ’living’ document that’s malleable and subject to flexible interpretations to reflect an evolving global business environment, or a more static document that can only be interpreted on the basis of its ’original intent’.
A law firms’ strategic plan, particularly one that incorporates client’s intangible assets, is a dynamic and on-going exercise. The reasons are that client’s intangible assets are often nuanced, business/company centric, seldom remain static, and frequently fluctuate relative to the materialization of risks, threats, and the nature and type of transactions engaged in which clients’ intangible assets will inevitably be in play.
Leaders, late adopters, or followers…
Law firms can choose to be leaders, late adopters, or followers. Today however, in an increasingly intangible asset intensive and global business – economic – transaction environments, a law firms’ initiative to devote attention and practice area resources to clients’ intangibles will reap benefits in terms of being more reflective and accommodating to client needs by, among other things, respectfully bringing clarity to the necessity for tactical and strategic stewardship, oversight, management, and assessment if intangibles other than IP, sometimes even before business clients become fully aware of their (the assets’) potentially favorable advantages.
Intangible asset relevancy to each practice area within full service firms is one in which each practice area can contribute through their respective and specialized lens.
Unfortunately, the economic fact that 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, profitability, and sustainability lie in – evolve directly from intangible assets, has yet to become so self-intuitive to management teams, c-suites, and boards that they instinctively recognize the necessity to identify, develop, safeguard, and exploit the intangibles their company produces internally and/or acquires externally.
Effective strategic planning produces client benefits…
Law firms have varying levels of experience and depth in IP matters. This makes it, in my view, all the more legitimate and necessary for firms to include, as part of their strategic planning, the acquisition of the necessary expertise to aid clients to recognize the various ways their company can elevate its value, add sources of revenue, and solidify its sustainability through better utilization, governance, and exploitation of its intangible assets.
Benefits to firm clients can occur not just by recognizing intangibles assets and their relevance to business profitability and market space, but also by taking affirmative steps to guide clients in identifying, unraveling, assessing, auditing, positioning, bundling, and exploiting intangibles and defending intangible asset intensive client companies in the intricacies intangible asset rooted disputes and challenges..
Thus, the more clarity a firm’s client decision makers achieve regarding the intangible assets their company produces or has acquired and the inevitably which they become embedded in the products and/or services a business client produces will lead to better – more informed decisions about the necessity to engage leading edge law firms that provide such services, as competitive leaders, not followers or late adopters.
When prospective clients – buyers of legal (IP) services, or merely consumer products for that matter, initially approach a law firm, if they find it challenging to distinguish/assess a firm’s comparative quality, particularly when such information is neither readily available or distinguishable, a percentage of those prospective clients will be inclined to promptly ask about pricing and fees.
More specifically, such circumstances often translate as an inability to quantify the value of what may appear, to prospective clients, as competing services and/or offerings because, unfortunately, pricing (fees) tends to be the primary form of measurement business decision makers understand insofar as distinguishing competing offerings – services. That’s because pricing (fees) tend to be a more readily recognized and presumably understood form of measurement..
So, a law firms’ ability to attract and secure new as well as retain existing clients, IP, or otherwise, particularly among increasingly frugal, discriminating, and cautious prospective buyers of legal services, can be rotted in a firms’ ability to articulate greater value in understandable and actionable contexts to benefit the client and exceed their respective needs and expectations. (Adapted by Michael D. Moberly from the work of Dale Furtwengler)
My primary rationale for advocating the inclusion of client company’s intangible assets in a law firms strategic planning is that by doing so, it will legitimately produce broader opportunities to re-engage existing clients as well as engage new – prospective clients on yes, a broader range of business legal issues, i.e., their intangible assets.
Too, by virtue of the connections between intangible assets and IP, law firms, particularly those with an IP practice, are pre-positioned and branded, so to speak, for guiding client businesses and companies to legitimately inquire and explore ways to more profitably utilize their intangibles.
Also, law firms, whether they recognize it or not, routinely become a repository of familiarity about ‘all things intangible’ regarding their business clients. It would seem prudent then for firms to develop strategic plans that call for a collaborative convergence, i.e., draw upon their existing practice area expertise, and various other complimentary domains to exploit that expertise and redirect a portion to business clients intangible assets.
However, the speed which intangible assets are coming to the forefront of business profitability and sustainability has produced some challenges for law firm business client services management that lead to maximizing intangibles value and creating opportunities for asset monetization and/or commercialization.
- One challenge is meeting the rising fiduciary responsibilities associated with the overall management of intangibles and the ability/competencies to simultaneously sustain control, use, and monitor asset contributory value and materiality, and risk to ensure that value, revenue producing and competitive advantage potential is neither undermined or lost.
- A second challenge, for law firm business clients and their management teams is recognizing that intangible assets are literally embedded in most every company’s processes, procedures, and practices (as intellectual, structural, and relationship capital) regardless of (company/client) size, maturation, or industry sector. The fact that most intangibles are embedded as noted above, can manifest as competitive advantages, brand, and reputation. What would matter most to clients is engaging a law firm that has already acquired the skill sets and experience to guide clients to identify – differentiate those assets and exploit their contributive – collaborative value as effectively and efficiently as possible.
- A third challenge is ensuring the necessary competencies are in place within a law firm to identify, unravel, assess, position, and bundle, if necessary, the assets and profitably apply-utilize (leverage) them in a broad range of business circumstances and transactions in which intangibles are routinely in play and/or part of a deal.
- A fourth challenge many, if not most client management teams experience is surviving, that is, remaining competitive, profitable, and sustainable while engaged in a global business (transaction) environment that is not just increasingly competitive, but aggressively predatorial, and often functions in winner-take-all business contexts.
These challenges of course, lead us to an even more compelling rationale for law firms to develop a strategic plan, of which one component, includes a viable path for converging a firms collective expertise to effectively address each of the following phenomena on behalf of clients because…
- There is no other time in business governance – management history when steadily rising percentages of company value, sources of revenue, and growth potential are so deeply rooted in intangibles.
- There is a necessity to re-frame the management, stewardship, and oversight of a company’s intangibles as fiduciary responsibilities that warrant enterprise wide collaboration and consensus.
- All too frequently, the contributions intangible assets make to company revenue, value, competitiveness, and market position are overlooked, dismissed, neglected, undervalued, left un-safeguarded, and ultimately lost, diluted, or leach out to competitors and the public domain.
- Intangible assets have become much more than mere tools to manage and/or enhance other (tangible, physical) assets. Instead, intangibles are now valuable and often times stand alone commodities that can be developed, positioned, integrated, and utilized to produce revenue, enhance competitive advantages, and otherwise add real value to a company.
- The financial reality that intangibles and intellectual property can advance a company (economically, competitively, etc.) only so long as control, use, ownership, value and materialty can be sustained.
- The time frame when company’s can realize the most value from their intangible assets generally remains variously compressed relative to an assets respective life, contributory value, and functionality cycles. In part, this compressed state is due to (a.) lower barriers to market entry by competitors, and (b.) rapid profits being achieved from, what I call, predatorially sophisticated and global product/service piracy and counterfeiting operations that consistently pollute and de-value legitimate supply chains.
Michael D. Moberly June 16, 2014 ‘A long form blog where attention span really matters’.
So why shouldn’t every law firm’s strategic plan encourage achieving operational familiarity with business clients’ intangible assets…?
Frankly, in 2014, and for the foreseeable future, I would be very hard pressed to devise a rationale why every law firm should not achieve a fully operational familiarity with their business clients’ intangible assets, and incorporate same in their strategic planning as tools to…
- expand and enhance firm brand and become a leader in intangible asset stewardship, oversight, and management, which in turn will produce more engagements, and
- enhance firm competitiveness by providing legitimate grounds to re-engage existing clients, and engage new/prospective clients.
Law firm’s that continue to be dismissive of strategic planning that includes a full array of intangible assets but do not adjust their client services accordingly should expect to experience stagnation on various levels internally and externally, e.g., sustainability of client relationships, client satisfaction, and service deliverables. So, it’s not a case of when, rather how law firms can build the necessary receptivity and ultimately consensus, initiated by managing partners, to actually achieve a level of profession expertise to comfortably and professionally engage clients’ about their intangible assets.
More specifically, while most firms’ tactical speed, i.e., the efficiencies of delivering its services, etc., remain important, continuing to be dismissive of strategic speed for developing new and proactively relevant client services that directly reflect globally universal changes in economics and competitive advantage drivers. So, law firm strategic planning should be designed and executed, as the adage goes, to ‘avoid continuing to skate where the puck is now, rather skate to where the puck will be’. Law firms strategically guided by assuring their practice areas are effectively aligned to address clients’ intangible assets are far better positioned to elevate their long term sustainability and bring greater consistency in revenue.
Too, a firms’ strategic plan can be further developed to incorporate internal and external client sensors which then can unambiguously constitute a ‘heads up’ to the normative. Of course, strategic planning initiatives must not be shy about challenging convention. One way is for the plan to be sufficiently malleable to absorb and effectively act on the full array of clients’ intangible assets and the various and nuanced forms they take.
Intangible assets are characterized in two primary forms…
- Legal intangibles, i.e., those which once issued by a government agency confer certain legal property rights which provide standing to defend in a court of law, e.g., issued patents, copyrights, and trademarks, etc., and
- Competitive(advantage) intangibles which are often characterized as being non-ownable, but they directly impact – contribute to a company’s financial well being, create efficiencies, increase productivity, and market value, etc. Often competitive advantage intangibles evolve collectively from various combinations of intellectual, structural, and relationship capital. (Adapted by Michael D. Moberly the work of Mary Adams_
A perspective on whether intangible assets are non-ownable…
Intangible assets are assumed to be non-ownable, but for the creator – developer of intangibles particularly those which measurably produce contributory value and competitive advantages, it is certainly in their interest to sustain control and use of the intellectual, structural, and relationship capital embedded in – underlie those assets and consistently monitor their value, materiality, and risk. If not, risks are all but sure to materialized, the effects of which rapidly erode, diminish asset value, sources of revenue, and competitive advantages. So, in companies and/or circumstances where such actions are taken to safeguard and preserve the content and value of intangibles would wisely convey a sense of ownership, as well it should!
Examples of intangible assets…
The following are examples of intangible assets. They have been adapted by Mr. Moberly from two respected comprehensive and current sources, i.e., (a.) ‘The Intangible Asset Handbook: Maximizing Value From Intangible Assets’. Weston Anson. 2007. American Bar Association, and (b.) ‘Untangling Intangibles’ Tamara Plakalo February, 2006. Managing Information Strategies. Australia.
- Technology – software: Internally developed (proprietary) software and software copyrights, automated databases, source code, enterprise solutions and custom applications…
- Marketing: Lyrics, jingles (music), promotional characters and devices, photographs andvideo, newsletters, advertising/marketing concepts, results of focus groups…
- Engineering: Industrial (new plant, equipment) designs, engineering drawings (blueprints) and technical knowhow…
- Customers – clients: Communication-mailing lists, relationships, customer data bases and retrievalsystems, special distribution channels, 1-800 numbers, relationships
- Competitor research: Actionable business intelligence, i.e., plans, intentions, capabilities…
- Real estate: Zoning – construction permits, air, water, and mineral drilling-exploitation rights, right-of-way, easements, and building (expansion) plans/rights, location visual scenery – proximity to
- Personnel training: Proprietary manuals, operations processes and/or procedure
- Domain names, website design, B2B and e-commerce capabilities, web links, customer/client accessibility and use
- Corporate identity: Names, trademarks, logos
- Products and services:Warranties, trade dress, i.e., product shapes, color schemes, and packaging design/graphics, open purchase orders, order and/or product back log,
- Contracts – agreements: Any contract that has a definable life and some form of exclusivity, e.g., supply, media, performance and pricing agreements, license and/or royalty agreements, advertising, construction, management, and/or service contracts, leases, operating and broadcast rights and licenses, route utilization, franchise agreements, subscription rights, futures contracts, co-branding agreements, endorsements, spokesperson contracts, venue naming rights…
- Intellectual property: Patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, trade dress, trade name, service marks, mastheads, application, logo design, prior art search, flanker patents; patent applications, foreign patents, reprints, use/performance rights
- R&D: Product research studies, formulas, process and assembly data, regulatory agency approval process-status
- Communication: Cable rights and/or transmission rights, FCC licenses and/or certification, bandwidth
- HR: Wage rates, union contracts, non-compete and non-disclosure agreements (if transferable)…
- Structural capital: The structures and processes employees develop and deploy to increase productivity and performance (business process/method patents)
- Human capital: Sum total of employees’ specialties, skills, attitudes, abilities, competencies, and technical ‘know how’ documentation, i.e., lab notebooks, manuals, formulas, processes, and recipes (food, chemical formulas)
Incorporating client intangibles assets in law firms’ strategic planning…
It’s fair to suggest that many law firm managing partners have various, but seldom specified responsibilities, aside from sustaining or expand the firms’ profile and brand, extinguishing the inevitable fires and ‘mending fences’. For some firms, managing partners’ responsibilities can also include garnering and fostering firm wide consensus to develop and execute a strategic plan, as advocated here, inclusive of intangible assets which is best commenced by advocating attorney operational familiarity with intangible assets, i.e., their stewardship, oversight, and management and the assets’ relevance to a firm’s specific practice areas. A law firms’ strategic plan, particularly one that incorporates client’s intangible assets, is a dynamic and on-going exercise. The reasons are that client’s intangible assets are often nuanced, business/company centric, seldom remain static, and frequently fluctuate relative to the materialization of risks, threats, and the nature and type of transactions engaged in which clients’ intangible assets will inevitably be in play. Int