Finding IP to leverage

27 03 2010

If you are doing an inventory of your organisation’s intellectual property, how do you know where to look for overlooked or hidden IP?

One often overlooked approach is to look for the kind of people who both tend to generate expertise and who are attracted by it. In OS4Talent terms these are the Knowledge Specialists (and often those with high Self Development scores). Look for clusters of these types of people and engage them in a conversation that permits them to enthuse about their own (or their group’s) specialised know-how. 9 time out of 10 you are going to find IP with wider potential.


Kay on Obliquity

21 03 2010

Just reading John Kay’s latest, “Obliquity: Why our Goals are Best Achieved Indirectly”. I bought it on spec, i.e. because of my previous experiences of this economist in person and on the page. So it was a surprise to discover how neatly Kay’s work dovetails with Dan Pink’s “Drive”, which I have also been reading and re-reading recently. (Not to mention Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’s work, which is explicitly referenced)

Key message in this respect would be that actual long-term financial success is inversely proportional to the position of financial success in the organisation’s (or individual’s) mission statement. In other words, if making money is your main objective, you are unlikely to achieve it over the long term, whereas if you aim to deliver benefit to customers or excel in your field or whatever, financial success is far more likely to ensue.

I would suggest that the same principle is at work in the field of talent management. Organisations which focus on treating people as resources in their pursuit of shareholder value are less likely to prosper (including in the delivery of shareholder value) than those which focus on getting the best people for their mission and then facilitating their development to achieve their full potential.

Invest in the Team, not the Plan

17 03 2010

The CEO workshop I delivered here in Singapore yesterday was refreshing for me in all kinds of ways, but not least because of the pragmatic and practical mindset of the participants. One thing that received a lot of affirmation was the notion that collecting objective data on any senior management team you are going to invest in (whether as angel, VC, private equity or acquisition) could save many tears later on. Several of the attendees were significant players in this field and were speaking from experience. They agreed 100% that they would rather invest in a great team with a so-so idea than a great idea with a team of uncertain quality.

Lowest Common Denominator and Government Funding

3 03 2010

From where I sit, the hardest thing for Governments to achieve in the area of funding for work-force and business development is to avoid the Lowest Common Denominator effect. In a nutshell, the fear of funding schemes being taken advantage of by unscrupulous operators leads to a highly prescriptive approach, usually based around what officials can work out for themselves about what is not their specialist subject. Nett result: providers who specialise in meeting prescriptive requirements deliver programmes which rarely if ever set the world on fire. I may be jaded, but when I get close to these schemes I seem to smell money going up in smoke.

So here is the daring alternative. Remove the prescriptions about what the courses or other interventions have to comprise. Set a financial comfort level for each iteration of a programme (in other words, the quantum we should risk in return for giving the company and the service provider the chance to prove they can deliver some quantifiable outcomes). Allow companies and/or service providers to bid for the money based on the outcomes they predict they will deliver and how these will be measured (in an auditable manner of course). If the outcomes are worth the investment (and the perceived risk), they get access to the money. To the extent they actually deliver the outcomes predicted, they can access further rounds of funding, perhaps in larger quantums, but each time subject to delivering the outcomes. Failure to deliver outcomes needs to be assessed; if there are extenuating circumstances, perhaps they can apply again for a smaller quantum or upon completion of remedial actions; if the failure was because the company and/or the service provider was inept or criminal then this results in their (*not just the entities – directors where appropriate) being unable to access funding in the future.

This approach offers a world where we can dare to do great things with Government Funding. Or perhaps we should just send our people on yet another course on Customer Service that inexplicably fails to improve the experience our Customers actually have!