Ready, Fire, Aim – does this work for IP Strategy

I was in Sydney recently at the AIM Convention in honour of the incredible Peter Drucker.

Tom Peters was his characteristically provocative self and used the ‘ready, fire, aim’ quote to illustrate his point about ‘just doing stuff, seeing what happens, and then doing some more’.

I’ve seen that approach work pretty well in many business situations (particularly the entrepreneurial) – but does it apply to IP Strategy?


Try playing chess with the ready, fire, aim approach. (It’s an interesting way to quickly imprint some of the patterns in your brain and an excellent way to learn, if you can afford the luxury to get things wrong.) However, you won’t win a given Chess game by playing this way against someone who is thinking strategically and 10 moves ahead of you.

Just like in chess, if you get an IP Strategy issue wrong, you often have little or no chance to fix it. The world has changed, you are now at a (strategic) disadvantage which you have to try and deal with.

There are always exceptions, of course. For example, filing a trade mark application after you launch the product may work out just fine, as the reputation you build in the brand in the meantime may actually help you obtain registration. Of course, to be cute, that won’t work so well for patents (except in the US and Australia).

What do you think – can you see situations where ‘ready, fire, aim’ works well in IP Strategy? Is there a place for it at all?

2 Comments on “Ready, Fire, Aim – does this work for IP Strategy

  1. I’m not sure if I can say that it “works well”, but what about the RIAA strategy of lawsuits against downloaders (or alleged downloaders)?  That seems like “ready fire aim” approach to IP enforcement, especially as they just seem to file as many lawsuits as possible and then they get weeded out via summary judgment (or settle).

  2. Jordan – thanks for your great comment.  It’s interesting because the RIAA are betting on most defendants paying the settlement costs and going quitely – this is saying nothing about the merits of the case in any given situation.  I guess it depends how you look at it – on any given case, they’ll fire then see what happens.  (Perhaps it should be ‘Fire, Ready, Aim’However, the overall strategy is pretty carefully set out.  They have a lot of battlefronts – they take an aggressive stance, knowing that many will fall away.  They then concentrate on what’s left (equally aggressively).I wonder whether there’s a more effective approach they could take to this problem – say a combination of an amnesty period, some more positive incentives not to infringe and the current aggressive approach.  I just wonder whether that would be better for business overall – ie better for perception of who they are…What do you think?

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