Michael D. Moberly September 10, 2008
Not infrequently, I find that strategic planning tends to (a.) focus predominantly on a company’s external environment, and (b.) see all things tangible. My point is this; conventional strategic planning templates often overlook – do not fully address a company’s internals’, more specifically, its intangible assets. That is, coventional strategic planning may not include processes to (1.) identify them, (2.) unravel them, (3.) value them, (4.) leverage them, (5.) position them, (6.) sustain (protect, preserve) their control and ownership, or (7.) strategies to extract value from them!
Strategic planning, after all, is about articulating a clear and practical vision about where a company ‘wants to be’ at some future point, typically, three to five years. Strategic plans describe ‘action steps’ to achieve those goals and vision, along with an assessment of the resources (human, capital, material) necessary to achieve the plan.
Today, business decision makers should be hard pressed to argue intangible assets are not relevant to strategic planning and should also find their exclusion disconcerting, especially in light of the economic fact – business reality that steadily rising percentages, as much as 75+%, of company value, sources of revenue, and future wealth creation lie in – are directly linked to intangible assets, i.e., intellectual property, proprietary information/know how, competitive advantages, trade secrets, goodwill, image, brand, etc.
Of course, the importance of factoring-considering value laden – revenue producing intangible assets in strategic planning processes has been substantially elevated, in the form of fiduciary responsibilities, as emphasized (mandated) by Sarbanes-Oxley and FASB (141, 142).
My experiences suggest however, that far too often, strategic plans overlook (neglect) the inclusion of intangible assets, i.e., the role and contributions (intangibles) make to successfully achieving and/or exceeding the plan’s goals and objectives in both near and long term contexts.
A key and necessary action step in strategic planning is conducting an intangible asset assessment. An ‘intangible asset assessment’ is an efficient, methodical, and company specific process to identify, unravel, and value, those assets in a manner that brings (business) insights and clarity to their identification, production, utilization, positioning, leveraging, as well as ways to extract value. (Please see other posts on these subjects.)