IP Management Step 2: Identifying the Issues

“Managing” intellectual property means proactively creating value.  The collection of facts you generated in Step 1 will include a number of gems – opportunities for you to create BIG value.  These are the issues upon which you should focus your innovation.

You probably already identified some while doing your data collection.  It is common to have some Aha! moments (and I hope you noted your Aha! when it occurred – if not you’ll do it during subsequent projects).  To find more issues, try these three exercises.

First, look for the opportunities specific to your product, service, or process.

  • Evaluate how well your product performs for each of the stakeholder actions for which you’ve compiled a description of value.  Where does your product underperform?  That’s low hanging fruit for innovation.
  • What are the biggest gripes about your product?  These are clear opportunities.
  • What are the stakeholder actions that are the clumsiest, based on what stakeholders say?  Fix them and you add value.

Second, look at the market or industry.

  • What are the obvious market trends that you can take advantage of?  More low hanging fruit.
  • What are the challenges in your market that everyone has given up on?  Every market or industry has some “holy grail” that all competitors have stopped chasing because they believe it is impossible.  Don’t buy into the negative hype – these are great opportunities for innovative thinking to create huge value.
  • What directions are the major competitors moving?  Maybe you can move swiftly and get there first.  Maybe you can flank them.  Maybe you can leapfrog them.  Maybe it’s the wrong direction (based upon what your study of value has shown).
  • What directions are the new upstart companies moving?  Are they hitting the value points your study identified?  How will that affect the market?  What will the major competitors do?

Third, look outside your market and industry.

  • What are the best companies (no matter the industry or market) doing that is noteworthy?  Maybe you can adopt or adapt that.
  • What are the new inventions in other fields that may remotely touch your field?  Maybe you can adopt or adapt them.
  • What industry or market best fulfills some of the “holy grails”or unfulfilled value points in your industry?  Adopt or adapt.

You now have not only a collection of facts about value in your industry, but you have an identified list of the issues that can be most valuable for you to address.

Next: Inventing Potential Solutions