Doers and communicators first, CIPOs after that
Today’s corporate leaders don’t understand and don’t care about intellectual property – and so say all of us, went the tune at the recent IP Business Congress in Chicago.
If that’s right (and it is only anecdotal so far) then let’s put off trying to make CEOs anoint a Chief Intellectual Property Officer (CIPO), ok?
Let’s work on the basics first.
Don’t get me wrong, the debate around CIPOs, their preferred attributes and metrics to measure them is incredibly important. Many companies would ideally have a CIPO and if nothing else, the debate has become a touch point for what is clearly the bigger issue – raising the profile of intellectual property as a source of strategic advantage.
Ok, so give me something practical, I hear you say. How do I make the intellectual property story more compelling?
This is not rocket surgery, it is being done all the time in countless ways in every corporation. You have to build your own credibility within your organisation as someone who reliably gets the job done. As you build trust with those senior to you, then your (ongoing?) commitment to communicating the value that can be added using intellectual property will become more prominent.
Make some (achievable) promises and then deliver. The more that you do this, the more credibility will be given to the IP function, and the greater awareness those senior to you will have. Some would call such a person an ‘IP Evangelist’ – I would say that they are just doing their job. People executing on difficult tasks bit by bit has always been what success is about.
Forget about what you’re called. Focus on delivering value using the tools of IP, and the rest will follow. Perhaps we will one day get to a position where all smart companies have a designated CIPO. But then again, perhaps not. Either way there should be someone in the organisation championing the use of intellectual property to deliver value.
Call them what you want, just as long as they get the job done.
(Photo credit: gopal1035)
One Comment on “Doers and communicators first, CIPOs after that”
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Bravo, Duncan! Watching the conversation about CIPOs that occurred at the IPBC (and having participated in many such discussions in the past), I agree it would be great for high-level business folks to realize that CIPOs would create great value in many organizations. However, I see companies with CIPO’s are “best in class.” In contrast, most companies “don’t even show up for class.” It is certainly valuable for us “IP Evangelists” to discuss the need for CIPOs with those companies that may already have someone in that function or that are looking to do so in the future. But, these are the equivalent of “A students.” It is much easier to teach “A students” because they “get it.” To mix a metaphor, if we merely “preach to the choir” our conversion rate will remain very low.
What we need to do is get those “failing students” (that is, those companies that “don’t show up to class” in my parlance) to recognize the value of IP strategy to their organzation. As any teacher will tell you, this is a much more difficult job. In order to convince them to change, we must work harder and longer and accept little wins that can effectively serve as proof of concept for them. Success in this regard may not look like much from the outside (and may not be very exciting for those involved in the trenches), but this is what is necessary for those companies that have ingrained tradtional views of IP.