In my IP strategy courses, I describe ten angles of competition, the sixth of which I define as a potential customer providing a solution to a need himself. For example, a house painter competes with more than other house painters when he proposes to paint a house. He also competes with the capacity and willingness of a home owner to just pick up his own brush and paint that house.
External IP Strategists are, of course, subject to the same ten types of competitors. The difference between us in IP strategy and the house painter, however, is how hard it can be for people who should seek outside strategic help to recognize that they need help until too late. Unlike the house, the problem can take a long time to become apparent.
The reality is that if your IP organisation has not been operating strategically, and decides to change its ways, the likelihood of success without an outside advisor is likely comparable to the success rate of diets and workout plans for those who try to become fit on their own without a trainer. It is not impossible, just not as likely. The same competing priorities that have hampered the strategic effort thus far will more than likely hamper them again in the future unless someone trained and practiced at breaking old patterns intervenes.
Even if you have in house graduates of one of the name strategic powerhouses, let’s say McKinsey or Boston Consulting, and even if they have the background in IP suitable to the task, competing priorities, internal politics, and career exposures will all serve as impediments to providing needed change. This will work in much the same way that a significant other may not be the best personal trainer if the truth and the whole truth needed to get fit might destroy the rest of the relationship. Sometimes it can be done; more often it cannot.
Here are some of the ways we’ve been adding value to enormous, global companies, rich with internal IP resources:
- Objectivity: It can pay to not know too much at first about a situation because the new exposure provides a fresh view of the situation.
- Exposure: We have a large breadth of experiences, and can keep even the most objective internal advisor from having to gain those experiences the hard way.
- Currency: We make it our business to be up to date on all the latest developments in IP given the professional imperative to be so. (See our Global Week In Review and our blog generally to see what we mean.)
- Truth: We’re able and more willing to risk the business that we have with clients in order to challenge assumptions that may otherwise lead to costly mistakes. Employees may risk losing their jobs if they don’t say “yes,” even when they should say “no.” Then everyone loses when a strategy does not work. A good IP strategy advisor can and will tell you what you don’t want to hear.
- Viewpoint: We have been built from day one to have a global perspective – you can see it in our team, our engagements and our clients.
(This is number 43 in our list of IP mistakes and how to avoid them.)
(Image credit: Hot Meteor)