I tend to reference movies a lot (strange, I don’t see that many) and in a recent post Disruptive? Emerging? Adjacent? Are you a technology wise guy? I referred to the Three Stooges. Fortunately, for the purposes of unnecessarily aging myself, they’ve been resurrected in a new movie.
Another “triplet” relationship exists with each company: technology, market and intellectual property. These aspects of innovative companies are the legs that support the stool upon which many companies position their future. Sure, there are many tactical company functions, but HR, administration, accounting and legal support growth, not lead it.
Here are my quick definitions of the three legs:
• Technology is the knowledge, equipment, and capability to manufacture a product.
• Market is your current and future customers, their buying preferences, and you and your competitor’s products now and in the future.
• Intellectual Property (IP) primarily consists of patents that give you a compelling advantage over your competitors. (I’ll ignore trademarks, trade secrets, and other forms of IP for brevity today.)
Each of these three legs is needed to support future growth in many companies; ignore one and the stool will fail to support future growth.
I’ve found that many small and medium-sized companies lack balance. Some examples:
• Companies often neglect to seek published patent information to learn what they can use in their product development, good or bad. This information often reveals unknown competitors and ideas that should not be pursued because they’re already patented.
• The marketing department doesn’t want to know about patents —a big and very common mistake. Wouldn’t you want to know that your chief market competitor just got a patent that will eventually allow their technology to take some of your market share?
• The executive team kicks off a research project but skimps on early due diligence. The published research and patents of others should be leveraged to save yourself resources and cycle time. In the worst case, a newly developed product could go into manufacturing with customer commitments only to find out that the concept is protected by one or more patents.
• The engineering groups that work to improve their design but don’t think outside the walls of their business. Others could have already been there and published their information as papers or patents, why not find out? One of my engineering professors in college always said “Why reinvent the wheel?”
The message here is that the three legs of the stool don’t operate independently. To bring balance, these “Three Musketeers” must work together.
And thank goodness there is a fairly new version of that old movie, too.
Picture credit: Southdevonplayers (Wikimedia)