It’s Time for Your R & D Team to Stop Inventing and Start Innovating

In a recent post on his 15 Inno blog, Open Innovation guru Stefan Lindegaard presented the ostensibly nonsensical hypothesis:  R & D leaders are often a “threat” to innovation.  Stefan’s post resulted from an interaction he had with a senior R & D person at a mid-sized tech company, who apparently adhered to the outdated notion that he and his scientists and engineers know more about the company’s business than anyone else could possibly even try to know.  As a result, this R & D leader believes that they cannot maximize (or even create) value for their organization by looking outside the confines of their existing R & D infrastructure to solve the company’s pressing business problems. Reading this, R & D professionals might likely think:  “What’s this guy smoking?  How can R & D be a threat to innovation?!  We’re the reason this company has any innovation at all.  We’re scientists!  Inventors!  Innovators!”  But, unless their companies are consistently experiencing year over year growth coming solely from sales of innovative new products and technology or cost reductions resulting from process innovations, such protestations prove Stefan’s point:  many R & D leaders kill their organization’s ability to innovate due to Continue Reading →

Why Western Companies Need Not "Dread" the Sucessful Monetization of Intellectual Property by Indian Firms

In his Harvard Business School blog posting entitled “How Indian Firms Convert Intellectual Property into Intellectual Profit,” Navi Rajou of Forrester Research contrasts the intellectual property (“IP”) activities of Indian corporate strategists with those of their Western counterparts. In this post, Mr. Rajou identifies several aspects of Indian corporate strategy that allow Indian firms to effectively monetize their IP. Mr. Rajou’s examples of the successful IP strategy-related activities of Indian firms can be summarized as follows: Tata Motors, which is introducing a $2500 car in India this year, has obtained 40 patents. However, Tata’s CEO recognizes that these patents are worthless unless the company also makes money from these inventions. Tata’s innovation metrics therefore also include “time to value” and “time to volume”. Some Indian firms do not even bother filing for patents on new inventions because doing so would distract them from the task of earning profits from these inventions. For these firms, first-mover advantage does not center on who files first on new inventions; instead, the true measure of profitability is from rapidly transforming those inventions into strategic market differentiation. Indian firms are successfully avoiding the “Not Invented Here” syndrome that permeates many Western companies. Indian firms recognize Continue Reading →

Can Patent Strategy Be A Key To Help Preserving the Small and Mid-Sized U.S. Manufacturing Base?

On a recent business road trip up the Interstate 85 corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte, I was stricken by the large number of empty small and mid-sized manufacturing facilities lining the expressway. On the drive north to Charlotte, we passed a dozen or more large, but abandoned, industrial buildings with empty parking lots and “Available” real estate signs visible from the road. In a significant manner, these empty facilities demonstrate the debilitating effects of globalization on the formerly vibrant small and mid-sized manufacturing base that previously dotted the landscape of the U.S. After establishing the markets and building the customers for, as some examples, specialty plastics, packaging materials or electronics, these companies lost the “race to the bottom” on price against low cost foreign manufacturers and, as a result, went out of business. When these companies closed their doors, well-paying jobs, the owners’ assets and the local tax base were each lost, maybe forever. However, as an IP business strategist and consultant, I believe the demise of these small and mid-sized manufacturers may not have been inevitable even in this globalized economy. And, perhaps more significantly, the remaining small and mid-sized U.S. manufacturer base could be bolstered by embracing patent Continue Reading →