Ever heard of worthless patents? Phantom secrets? Both are a result of taking shortcuts. Here’s what most people skip:
The 7 Habits for Highly Effective IP:
- Be proactive. Most IP missteps are irreversible. You can’t regain a secret after it escapes, and there’s no 2nd place in patents. Success attracts competitors and wannabes, but by then it’s way too late to start IP planning. Be proactive: the sweet spot to begin your IP journey is early in your business cycle.
- Begin with the end in mind. The whole point of IP is to help your business. That’s why your IP journey starts with your business goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Grow customers or a user base? Your end goals provide a guiding North Star.
- Put first things first. Your IP is the ideas, information & data that differentiate you – eg. novel approaches, code, proprietary data. Maybe you already know which of your IP is important, or maybe not. Either way, your view is probably incomplete. It’s like “Where’s Waldo”- except there are more Waldos than you realize. And the important stuff may not be what you thought. Make sure you’re playing with a full deck: carefully assess all of your IP.
- Think Win. “Protecting” IP isn’t very intuitive – so, adopt a BUSINESS MINDSET: how can you LEVERAGE your IP to improve business outcomes? Patents can attract acquirers. Secrets (done right) can create moats. How can your IP help you win?
- Seek first to understand. Understanding the nexus between your IP and your business goals is crucial. Once you find differentiating IP, seek to understand its role. The more important the role and the goal, the more important the IP.
- Synergize. Avoid silos. Use a cross-functional team. Your CMO knows what drives customers. Engineering & Data Science know important product details. Capturing synergies is a holistic road to finding more effective IP.
- Sharpen the saw. Like any journey, the first steps are daunting. But you can do it. Periodic sprints, with time for reflection, usually works best. The more you strive to see IP through a business lens, the more effective you become. As you sharpen your thinking, you sharpen your skill.
Developing effective IP isn’t complicated, but there are no shortcuts. Follow these 7 habits and you’ll be way ahead of the pack.
[Of course, this post is adapted from Steven R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. I love this book. It’s applicable to so many things. Even IP!]