Employee motivation and IP strategy

If you want people to do something really well, then engage and motivate them. The most successful organisations when it comes to intellectual property strategy are those that have full engagement from their entire team.
So how do you achieve this?
1 – set your intellectual property strategy goals (based on business or corporate goals) – make them achievable and concrete;
2 – delve deep until you really understand the behaviours you need from the entire team to achieve these goals;
3 – develop and implement appropriate positive and negative feedback to guide people’s actions;
4 – clearly communicate the goals, behaviours and feedback that can be expected;
5 – keep your ears open and actively seek employee comments and suggestions for improvement;
6 – iterate.

Here’s a quick example. Say you need to reduce your IP budget but make it more effective. Then, reward team members (even after they have left the organisation) if a patent for which they are an inventor is issued / granted. The long term commitment by the organisation to getting granted patents will help motivate your team to invest the time in more solid patent applications. (On this particular issue, you should obviously also take a serious look at your invention screening process.)

2 Comments on “Employee motivation and IP strategy

  1. The “reward” must include some sort of remuneration.  Otherwise, employees will not be motivated to assist in the creation of IP, particularly patents.  As you know even understanding what is a patentable invention is often difficult for your average inventive employee. And patent drafting requires particular legal expertise, which by its nature, is not usually part of an inventor’s skill set.  To ask most inventors who are scientists and engineers even to work with a good drafter, in addition to their regular duties, requires a strong incentive, generally of some monetary value.  Of course, companies with international operations, particularly in Germany, will be aware of the right of employee inventors to share the “spoils” of their valuable inventions.Really key is a reward system that is fair but is aligned with the long time it takes for a patent to be granted.  Many inventors are no longer around when a patent application comes under examination, particularly in Japan.  Everyone in this game knows that it is usually a long journey before an invention becomes valuable IP and the reward system should reflect the stages of value creation.

  2. Thanks canuckinoz – great comments.I’ve heard many HR experts say that remuneration per se is more of a demotivator than a motivator.  As soon as money is involved, people start comparing and inevitably someone is unhappy.If you’re paying your inventing team well to start with, then perhaps further direct financial rewards aren’t necessary.  I think this is an area where some creativity and perhaps some targetted thinking will pay off more than just more money.  So, you might find that a weekend away, a set of golf clubs, a car parking space at the office, etc., etc. may work just as well, or even better.

%d bloggers like this: