(Harvesting Intangible Assets: Uncover Hidden Revenue In Your Company’s Intellectual Property by Andrew J. Sherman)
Michael D. Moberly January 22, 2014
Let me say at the outset, the perspectives put forth here regarding my assessment of Andrew Sherman’s ‘Harvesting Intangibles’, are dually rooted, first in a careful study of Sherman’s book, and second, a personal conversation (meeting). Unmistakable takeaways of both are clear; Sherman literally radiates a strong passion for intangible assets! Too, he has the requisite practical knowledge, operational familiarity, legal training, and strategic visioning to effectively ‘bring it altogether’ and intersect intangible assets with positive business (transaction) outcomes. Sherman truly recognizes and consistently conveys throughout his book, the increasingly strategic role intangibles play in companies (globally) as contributors to and generators of value, revenue, and sustainability.
To be sure, Sherman has very deservedly accumulated the requisite ‘street creds’ as many readers of this blog recognize him as a much respected, articulate, and forward looking thinker, and practical tactician in the intangibles’ arena, e.g., named by Fortune as one of the ‘Top Ten Minds in Small Business’ and Inc. magazine recognized him as one of the 19 leading resources and advocates for growing companies, of which intangible assets are clearly an important component.
‘Harvesting Intangibles’ is replete with Sherman’s sage counsel regarding the nexus of intangible assets and business. This clearly and most properly positions him to be one of a respected handful of global ‘go to professionals’ on intangibles, particularly the millions of small, mid-size, early stage, and start-up firms, which concurrently form the foundation to the education and training company, ‘Grow Fast, Grow Right’ that he founded.
Sherman built ‘Harvesting Intangibles’ on a distinctive and understandable ‘agrarian’ metaphor platform in which he describes intangibles as being (a.) planted (developed or acquired), (b.) nurtured (cared for and integrated), (c.) safeguarded (protected), and of course (d.) harvested (applied, commercialized, and/or monetized) at opportune times. This sequence is necessary, Sherman advocates, as the most correct path to maximize intangibles’ contributory value and sources of revenue, which most are capable.
Throughout ‘Harvesting Intangibles’, Sherman respectfully pushes many conventions (i.e.,past practices, antiquated attitudes) off the table by demonstrating that (a.) attitudes, i.e., this is the way it’s always been done, and if it doesn’t seem to be broken, why try to fix it, now?, and (b.) practices, i.e., balance sheets are an archaic measure of any company’s true intrinsic value, and are no longer well-suited for operating knowledge (intangible asset) intensive businesses.
Another strong positive is that Sherman uses a distinctively normative, but respectful, style (i.e., metaphors, language, etc.) to articulate his ideas, positions, and perspectives to aid readers, some of whom may be, up to this point, operationally unfamiliar with or disinterested in intangibles. That includes not just c-suites and boards, but business unit management teams as well. Of course Sherman’s objective is to respectfully aid them to more effectively identify, capture, and exploit the value and other contributory elements of (their) intangible assets through better asset management, stewardship, and oversight practices.
Too, Sherman has integrated numerous informative graphics and visuals in ‘Harvesting’ that are not merely modified replications of others’ work. Instead, each graphic/visual can be readily grasped and conveys a positive strategic, rather than a fear orientation, which in my view is precisely the tact to take. Equally favorably, Sherman’s graphics and visuals can be interpreted and framed by management teams for (asset) comparison and/or measurement-performance purposes.
As with many books, relatively small things resonate with readers that collectively set a book aside from it competitors. One such example is that Sherman commences each chapter with a relevant and thought provoking quote which I found especially compelling and relevant to those of us who are truly ‘boots on the ground’ intangible asset practitioners. For example, a quote attributed to Charles Browder (Chapter 6) is a follows…
“a new idea is delicate…it can be killed by a sneer or a yawn…it can be stabbed to death by a joke, or worried to death by a frown on the key person’s face.”
For most intangible asset advocates and practitioners know this caricature represents as unfortunate business reality and have likely experienced it personally on numerous occasions. This example, along with countless others, already eluded to further reveals Sherman’s passion for and understanding of intangible assets. Too, it adds much needed clarity that will respectfully elevate management teams’ operational familiarity with intangibles relative to (a.) their development, (b.) how they can be best exploited, and (c.) the all-important value proposition for a range of business sizes and sectors.
To address this further, Sherman includes countless real and thought provoking examples of actual ‘harvesting intangibles’ to provide readers with practical insights which can be rapidly and efficiently applied by seasoned business leaders who recognize the rapidly expanding (fiduciary) responsibilities associated with managing and exploiting intangible assets.
Those still unfamiliar with Sherman’s work should not conclude ‘Harvesting Intangibles’ merely represents a ‘one hit wonder’. Sherman has published numerous other books and articles of this caliber, many of which press a solidly framed business orientation for intangible assets to forever advance his unique theme of ‘harvesting intangibles’.
As readers of this blog know well, I am a strong advocate of intangible assets. Such advocacy, as Sherman articulates so well, comes with responsibilities which ‘Harvesting Intangibles’ elevates, due in no small part to Sherman’s training and expertise in intellectual property matters.
And finally, who should be reading, not just ‘Harvesting Intangibles’, but other works of Sherman? For me, the answer is straight forward, that is, most all have relevancy in university classrooms as well as company boardrooms!
Ultimately, a message I trust readers of ‘Harvesting Intangibles’ will quickly and readily recognize by page five, is that clinging to conventions of past practice that ignore, dismiss, or otherwise underestimate the role and contributory value of intangible assets and the responsibility to consistently and effectively engage them will lead to business adversity vs. business sustainability and profitability.
To be sure, Sherman’s book is certainly not one of the growing numbers of books that I, not-so-respectfully categorize as the ’10 easy steps from rags to riches in one minute per day’. Instead, Sherman’s book is embedded with relevant, timely, and real knowledge framed in a manner that will not just add reasoned value to readers, but again, provide a viable and strategic path to more complete utilization of most every company’s intangible assets.
Harvesting Intangible Assets: Uncover Hidden Revenue In Your Company’s Intellectual Property by Andrew J. Sherman. American Management Association, 2012 (ISBN – 13: 978-0-8144-1699-0)
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