Harvesting Intangible Assets

Uncover Hidden Revenue in Your Company's Intellectual Property

 Harvesting Intangible Assets

Author: Andrew J. Sherman
Pub Date: October 2011
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814434987
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814417003

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Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Intellectual Capital Agrarian

Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so

much to so many in such a short period of time.

—BILL GATES

We are all farmers.

We mark our turf. We protect our property. We plant our

seeds. We nurture the soil. We plow our land. We combat

adverse weather and ecosystem conditions and overcome adversities.

We prepare for our harvest. We carefully remove the frost

from the vine. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst

as the market sets a price for our efforts. We embrace the notion

that our results will be directly tied to our levels of effort and

expertise. We begin anew.

No matter what your profession, no matter what your company

does, no matter what your life situation may be—we all

follow this fundamental and deeply rooted agricultural process in

some way throughout the days of our lives. We are all the new

agrarians. But do we recognize ourselves as such? Have we

learned from the successes and failures of the agrarian economies

that preceded us? Can we learn to apply the traditional as well

as the latest best practices of farming to our daily lives and in

the growth of our companies? How can we make our lives more

enjoyable and enriching and our companies more productive and

profitable by adopting an agrarian approach to life planning, time

management, resource allocation, innovation harvesting, and

business model reshaping?

Consider the following questions as they apply to your life

and to your business:

- Have you carefully selected a territory that is fertile for

growth and right for your type of crop?

- Do you understand the dynamics of your ecosystem?

- Have you done everything in your power to properly nurture

the soil and enhance the land’s ability to produce?

- What seeds will you plant, and why?

- Are you ready to invest the time and energy to care for these

seeds once planted?

- Whom will you hire to help you raise, harvest, and sell the

produce at your farm?

- What tools, resources, and expertise will you require to

maximize the fruits of your harvest?

- What adverse weather or market conditions must you

overcome to be successful?

- Who else is growing these same crops? How does their experience

compare to your own?

- Do you have a keen sense for the cycles and timetables that

will optimize your harvest?

- What is your game plan for bringing your crops to the

marketplace? Will you do it alone or join with others?

- What are your distribution channels, and who are your target

customers? On what basis and criteria will they select your

harvest rather than others’? On the basis of price? Quality?

Convenience? Availability?

- How will you allocate the revenues that this year’s harvest

will bring? Have you performed a sensitivity analysis based on

high/expected/low target ranges?

- What steps need to be put in place to set the stage for

beginning the process again?

- What have you learned from the successes and failures of last

year’s process to make next year even better?

Each of these questions must be answered by every type of

farmer every year in every country around the world. Every year,

they ‘‘bet the farm,’’ overcoming the challenges of the wind, sun,

drought, floods, and other conditions beyond their control to put

food on all of our tables. But the questions also apply to each of

us—in the growth and development of our companies and as

applied to the growth and development of ourselves as humans

and as an evolving society. And, just as with farming, if we care

for the soil and harvest properly, we produce value. If we overwork

or overtax the farm and add too many pesticides over too

much irrigation, the outputs will be limited and potentially dangerous.

Farmers who strive to perfect this process and to learn from

the successes and failures of each year’s harvest enjoy financial

stability and wealth creation. They work hard to control the

variables that are in their power and develop contingency plans

around the variables that they can’t control. They see the crops

as an extension of themselves and are happy as they see them

grow and progress. They enjoy the process and connect with the

land in a spiritual way. But at the very core and soul of their

existence is the relationship between themselves and their land

and between their tools and their seeds and between the quality

of their harvest and the dynamics of the marketplace.

In building companies and fostering innovation, we must all

embrace these same principles. We must put conditions in place

that support a corporate culture likely to yield a productive harvest

and be constantly planting the seeds of creativity, encouragement,

curiosity, empathy, respect, challenge, and fulfillment. We

must understand which tools will be most effective for reinforcing

the underlying principles of this culture. We must take steps

to manage the conditions that are within our control and develop

‘‘Plan Bs’’ for those that we can’t. Most important, we must fully

invest in the growth and development of our human capital by

providing education and training to our teams at all levels to

teach how to become farmers inside our companies and in their

own lives.

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