Overcoming Barriers to Innovation and IP Creation – PART 4: MOTIVATING ACTION  

POSTED BY Jed Cahill AT 8:03 A.M. Apr 23, 2012

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In our work we observe many barriers to innovation and IP development.  The barriers cut across industries and technologies, and they hinder value creation for large and small companies alike.

The innovation and IP leader who is able to overcome the barriers has an opportunity to advance the company’s competitive position with better products and services, faster time to market, more efficient operations, stronger IP, and the resilience necessary to respond to rapidly changing market conditions and critical business problems.

The first step in overcoming your company’s barriers to innovation and IP development is to recognize that the barriers exist and audit the organization to define them.  Below are some of the most common and impactful barriers that we observe in our work.  The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but it touches on issues many innovation and IP leaders can relate to in some way.

  1. No clear direction
  2. No way to measure success
  3. No defined process
  4. No motivation
  5. No resources or budget

This forth article in a series of five on this subject explores ideas for overcoming the forth barrier listed above – having no motivation.  We will explore how to overcome the last barrier in a future article.

Strategy is only as valuable as your ability to execute – an imperfect strategy that is well executed will generate much higher returns than a glossy white paper strategy that is poorly executed.  As we explored in the previous article, having a dedicated innovation or IP leader  responsible for managing execution according to a documented process is essential for putting strategy into action.  But even a well-defined strategy and process and won’t run itself.  People make the strategy go.

So, how can you help your organization motivate action by the teams and individuals needed to achieve your innovation and IP goals?  How can you incentivize value creation?

First, turn to the strategy goals you have defined.  We introduced a consumer products company example in the second article of this series, where successful execution of an IP strategy would be to increase profitability of its products through stronger patent protection.  In this example, a relevant success metric for effective strategy execution might be a comparison of the profit margins for patent-protected products versus non-patent-protected products.

Then, use the success metrics to determine how you reward and recognize staff involved in the innovation and IP creation process.  If successful strategy execution for the consumer products company would be realized through increased profitability products, then it should consider rewarding and recognizing your inventors based on their contributions to patents that support products with higher margins.  Over time this should increase the average economic value of each patent owned by the organization.

Many companies that develop patents reward and recognize their inventors for quantity of invention disclosures written, patent applications filed, and patents issued.  The rewards often come in modest cash bonuses.  Recognition might come through wall-plaques, inventor dinners, and the like.  Would such a rewards and recognition program help the consumer products company grow margins on its products?  It would certainly help the company keep patent attorneys busy and patent filing fees high, but not necessarily help the company create value through margin improvement.  It may be appropriate to reward and recognize inventors based on quantity to some level (numbers are respected in the market), but for companies trying to maximize ROI on their patent development, quantity should be measured along with quality metrics.

Even if you have a clear strategy, the metrics by which you plan to measure performance, a documented process for execution, and a value-driven reward and recognition program to motivate action, how can you make sure adequate budget is available to make it all work? We will explore that in the next article in this series.  In the meantime, check out Kate Shore’s article Onwards and Upwards for discussion on how to support a “culture of innovation.”

<< Part 3: Defining Your Process || Part 5: No Budget >>

TAGS: Innovation | Jed Cahill | Process
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