Walls, Alexander the Great and Partha Bose
“…walls do nothing but temporarily – and only temporarily – keep outsiders out but, more insidiously, insiders locked in. Often these fortifications can also reside in people’s minds…
…As Alexander believed, all that is needed to bring a fortress down is to concentrate one’s forces at one point – as soon as the wall is breached there, the rest crumbles like a sandcastle.”
(I would only suggest a slight addition that concentrating one’s efforts on the most decisive point is the most effective way to bring a fortress down. There’s a good measure of strategy, art, experience and creativity in identifying the most decisive point in any given context.)
Fortresses can come in many forms – in intellectual property strategy, it may be a patent thicket, litigation posturing, or even the mere perception of relative bargaining power. Sometimes the most effective strategy includes bringing down this ‘fortress’ to gain a better relative position.
Interestingly, when it comes to building value by generating and leveraging intellectual property, the ill effects of locking insiders in that Partha warns of can come to the fore. A classic example of this is the ‘not invented here’ syndrome in which successful R&D departments fail to appreciate the value in IP generated elsewhere, despite its great strategic value. This obviously is diametrically opposed to modern thinking on open innovation as a key driver of creativity.