‘Taking Risks and Learning From Failures’ Are Not Universal Preludes to Success…

Michael D. Moberly, Business Intangible Asset Strategist – December, 26, 2023

As a business intangible asset strategist and risk mitigator, I am not an advocate of the convention-laden axioms that appear to eulogize…

“Take risks. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes”.

“If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not reaching far enough”.

Some axioms, similar to these originate in decades preceding the 21st century. I discourage same portrayed as representative prescriptions to/for business success in 2023.

These particular-axioms stem from perspectives attributed to David Packard (one of HP’s founders’) which he experientially uttered many years ago. Today, if-when same or similar are deemed relevant to utter, are obliged to include circumstantial contexts for audiences to decipher sectoral(ly) and perhaps generationally for the reasons described below.

Risk taking and risk emergence (for businesses) has changed quite dramatically relative to the…

  1. speed, asymmetry, intensity, nefarious determination, and reach – consequences of risks delivery to (business) reputation.
  2. 70 – 80+% of most business’s valuation, competitiveness, revenue generation capability, capacity, and sustainability today is directly attributable to intangible (non-physical) assets which have likely been developed internally, held proprietarily or as IP, and embedded in operating culture. Intangibles | BrookingsUnseen Wealth: Report of the Brookings Task Force on Intangibles on JSTORIntangible Assets: Computers and Organizational Capital | Brookings
  3. Business intangible asset dependency – reliance exists across sectors, transactions, projects, and initiatives irrespective of (business) size, stage of development, sales, products, services, or location. Boom of Intangible Assets Felt Across Industries and Economy – UCLA Anderson Review

To conceive and frame risk taking – mistake making as preludes to success is imprudent at best.

Today, near immediate public revelation and reaction – interpretation of (a.) imprudent risk taking, and/or (b.) repeated mistake making, etc., by a business leader, management team, innovator, entrepreneur, board, and/or investor, et al, are gauged accordingly. Not infrequently, either represent indicators and/or signals that many many agree, do not warrant eulogization or admiration, let alone, presumptive tolerance for duplication – replication.

I have the good fortune to forge trusted relationships with clients and collaborators (nationally, internationally), wherein there is mutual interest in intangible asset intensive and dependent businesses, e.g.,

  • less emphasis on acquiring – erecting successively larger physical-tangible fixed assets to produce more faster-better-cheaper, and instead,
  • more emphasis on recognizing, developing, and applying non-physical-intangible assets to produce differentnew capabilities and opportunities lucratively, competitively, and sustainably, i.e.,
    • various forms, contexts, and applications of intellectual, structural, and relationship capital.

Many engagements for (my) counsel and/or services are prompted by business leaders’ realization – recognition that a current risk (problem, and/or challenge) is producing operational, economic, and competitive harms and adversities.

Routinely, those harms – adversities target and affect the ‘mission essential’ intangible assets which a business proprietarily holds and applies to a product and/or service which their standing-reputation rely and depend.

The ‘due diligence’ component of my engagements seldom reveals a single act of risk taking or mistake making. I discourage business leaders conveniently translating a single act of risk taking or mistake making, et al, as the ‘root cause’ of a harm or loss, e.g., adversely affecting business (product, service) valuation, reputation, revenue generation, and/or competitiveness, etc.

Instead, risk producing losses and/or harms to a business, i.e., their ‘mission essential’ intangible assets which directly contribute to and underlie product – service standing, e.g., attractivity, durability, competitiveness, revenue generation capability-capacity and valuation are distinguishable and frequently traceable to…

  1. deference to unreceptivity to alter in-house conventions and practice to reflect the operational and economic dependence on intangible vs. tangible-fixed assets.
  2. sense of experiential superiority which dismisses relevance of business things intangible.
  3. unfamiliarity and/or unawareness of ‘mission essential’ intangible assets with distinguishable, sustainable, and measurable roles and contributions.
  4. presumption that operational familiarity with business-product-service specific intangible assets is momentum stifling, costly and time-consuming.
  5. convention laden perspectives for characterizing risks to businesses, products, services, and reputations.
  6. circumstances in which there were naïve presumptions of trust to others which was variously violated, e.g., proprietary information and/or IP was misappropriated and/or infringed.

For more on this topic, please review forthcoming posts.

The Business Intangible Asset Blog was created in 2006 and now includes 1100+ topic specific posts intended to provide readers, ala business leaders, management teams, R&D administrators, boards, and investors, etc., with reliable insights to the application, valuation, competitiveness, revenue generation, and sustainability contributions of intangible assets.

Posts at Business Intangible Asset Blog are intended to draw attention to the development, application, management, safeguards, and risk mitigation of business’s ‘mission essential’ intangible assets.

kpstrat is a Business Intangible Asset Strategy – Risk Mitigation Collaborative.

Readers of this post are respectfully invited to explore other – similar posts, along with books, pamphlets, and papers available @ ‘Business Intangible Asset Blog’ and kpstrat.com.

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