IP Strategy and Productivity

By Fred Logue

What is an IP Strategist and what is their value? These are questions that give rise to debate often in the context of whether or not an IP Strategist should be a lawyer or have a professional qualification.

This misses the point.

I think the important thing in the whole strategist versus lawyer qualification debate is to look at things slightly differently and certainly not to use qualifications as the dimension along which to analyse.

The key difference between strategist and lawyer is that a good strategist figures out what to do next whereas a lawyer advises clients on what they can and cannot do next and sometimes what the risks are in each case.

So what qualifies a person to make decisions about what to do next? That’s the million dollar question. It is certainly not about qualifications or professions, but whatever it is it has value. Seth Godin has a great piece on productivity in the innovation age. In his view the decision about what to do next defines productivity today rather than measures of output and activity that we have become used to during the industrial age.

Godin puts it very well:

According to the economics of the industrial age, it’s simple: Money spent creates output. If you use less labor or your system creates more output, your factory is being more efficient.

Machines can be more productive than people because once they’re set up, they create more output per dollar spent. Lowering labor costs is the goal of the competitive industrialist, because in the short run, cutting wages increases productivity.

This is a race to the bottom, with the goal of cutting costs as low as possible as your competitors work to do the same.

The new high productivity calculation, though, is very different:

Decide what you’re going to do next, and then do it. Make good decisions about what’s next and you thrive.

Innovation drives the connection economy, not low cost.

The decision about what to do next is even more important than the labor spent executing it. A modern productive worker is someone who does a great job in figuring out what to do next.

Are you sure your adviser has the experience and motivation to help you decide what to do next?  Are you paying him to figure out your options but expecting him to take decisions? These are totally different things. Is the person who comes up with options and risk analysis the right person to take the decision?

These are life and death issues. It is worth making sure you fully understand what you are buying from your adviser.

[This post originally appeared at New Morning Intellectual Property.]

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