In my wanderings through the Internet, I recently came across a new-to-me management concept. This concept, which generally addresses the management of the risk of strategic decisions, directs C-level corporate decision-makers to embrace as a primary responsibility the management of uncertainty in order to enable the long-term success of their companies. The concept, developed by Michael Raynor of Deloitte Research, is briefly discussed in this article entitled “What is Corporate Strategy, Really” (available here: http://www.iveybusinessjournal.com/article.asp?intArticle_id=722) and in more detail in a book entitled The Strategy Paradox (more info here: http://www.amazon.com/Strategy-Paradox-committing-success-failure/dp/0385516223 ).
In the article, Mr. Raynor effectively asserts that traditional models of corporate strategy are flawed because they are inherently based on a supposed understanding of future events. Instead of embracing the fallacy that they are able to predict the future, business leaders should acknowledge and accept that a significant aspect of corporate decision making is based upon planning for unknowable events. Corporate strategy is therefore really about developing processes and contingencies for dealing with the unknown. As such, Mr. Raynor states that C-level corporate decision-makers must be willing to relinquish responsibility for short-term results and instead focus primarily on the management of strategic uncertainty. These corporate leaders must take primary responsibility for managing the uncertainties associated with the decisions made by business unit leaders so that the individual business units be able to embark on higher risk strategies, to allow these units to reap higher returns, without incurring the same level of risk that would otherwise exist.
As an IP Strategist, I am always interested in illustrating ways that IP strategy can be applied into modern management concepts such as that proposed by Mr. Raynor. To this end, I am proposing that IP strategy actually comprises a fundamental aspect of the management of strategic uncertainty. Specifically, I strongly believe that when strategic efforts are applied to understanding IP, both inside and outside the company, IP moves from the realm of uncertainty to that of the knowable. And, when something is knowable, risk can be better managed and longer-reaching business decisions are possible with lower risk.