IP Management Step 1: Learn the Facts

For intellectual property to possess value, it must provide value for a company’s products, services, or processes – and they only generate value when they come into contact with people.  So, we first have to answer two questions.

  1. Who are the people who will touch the product, service, or process?
  2. What do they value?

Understanding value across your various stakeholder groups is where your intellectual property management system should start.  The general framework is simple enough: for each group of people that touch any particular product, service, or process, study and record what people value.

  • Internal departments
  • Key suppliers
  • Customer segments
  • Distribution channel
  • Service entities
  • Other partners or collaborators

How?  One on one interviews, observations, focus groups, customer service feedback, and so forth.  Ask about problems, ask about dreams, ask what they like, ask what they don’t like.  Have them describe a day with the product, have them demonstrate it to you, have them walk you through different things they do with the product.  Listen to gripes.  Ask why.  Ask for an explanation.  Don’t leave until you understand you understand how they work with and feel about the product.

The more stakeholder groups from which you learn and the more in depth you learn from each group, the more complete your knowledge.  Take good notes – this is the start of your intellectual property collection.

To organize this collection of facts, break all of the thoughts from those interviews, observations, and other feedback apart – and then categorize the individual thoughts.  One useful way to do this is to sort the comments by the action being performed.  So, for example, you end up with all of the retail merchandising comments together, all of the user interface comments together, all of the repair comments together, etc.

Congratulations.  You now have an organized collection of facts about what people value about your product, service, or process.

Next:  Identifying the Issues