Intangible Assets: The ‘Prius Effect’ Of Your Company’s Market Space!

Michael D. Moberly   June 13, 2012

On many occasions I certainly wish I could be the proverbial ‘fly on the boardroom and c-suite walls’, but not necessarily in the Bob Woodward (realistic fiction) sense.

I think about the countless conversations which generally I have only third or fourth hand or anecdotal knowledge, but never-the-less, I’m very confident occurred, like the ones that occurred not that many years ago in the boardrooms, c-suites, and R&D laboratories of Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, Honda, and Kia when they were conceiving their respective ‘prius’ automobiles.

I’m equally confident that during these same approximate time periods, GM, Ford, and Chrysler were likely having discussions in their respective boardrooms, c-suites, and R&D labs, but little had to do with the development of their ‘prius’, rather it was likely those discussions dealt with focus group analysis about what to name their newest and ever-the-more-larger SUV or pick-up truck and development of promotional – marketing campaigns to influence buyers ‘bigger is better’ and churn them out at a pace to accommodate demand.

Of course, we all know now how this story ends.  In 2008, prompted by legislative and politically motivated inquiries along with some public rancor about flying into Reagan National on corporate ‘fuel guzzling jets’.  But, it all laid the groundwork for the massive bailout for GM and Chrysler. So, the ‘big three’ began re-tooling and re-designing vehicle power systems to quell the outcries and accommodate demands for higher MPG vehicles, but not before laying-off thousands of workers.

In the meantime, the ‘prius’ brand, was already becoming solidly entrenched with the car-buying public to the point that the Korean and Japanese ‘big five’  literally owned that market space!

So my point is this, today is the perfect time, as was last week, the week before, and even last year, for company management teams, boards, and c-suites in all sectors to consider ‘taking a page from the ‘prius’ playbook’ and think about their equivalent to the prius, which are, in my view, intangible assets!

After all, it is an economic fact that 65+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth today evolve directly from intangible assets, i.e., intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, brand, reputation, etc.

But those management teams, c-suites, and boards must be inquisitive and frame the right questions.  For starters, they should be think about their intangible assets in this way…

  • the effective stewardship, oversight, and management of intangible assets can be the difference between looking ahead (real strategic planning) and looking through a rearview mirror!
  • stewardship, oversight, and management of a company’s intangible assets is truly an investment that will produce revenue, add value, elevate reputation, and be a strong source of competitive advantages, in other words, ‘the prius effect’!

This post was inspired by a 8-17-08  ’Smart City Radio’ program titled ‘Veolia Survey and The Vine’

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