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I recently read The Power of Habit Why We Do What We Do and How to Change.
Books have a wealth of wisdom and this one is a real gem. Among other things the insights I’ve gleaned from the book are that habits are the key to change. Once a new action or activity turns into a habit – that is, a choice one makes without thinking about it – the chain reaction from the new actions will follow.
Essentially, if we want to progress in our lives, the key is to re-evaluate our habits to see which ones to replace with new ones. Some habits are keystone habits so that once you change them a whole series of other changes are likely to be more easily made. For example, if a heavy smoker gives up smoking that might be the catalyst leading to them taking up exercise, eating and drinking more healthily, finding new hobbies and turning their life around.
Habits are the key to effecting change
The book is an eye-opener in how to position something you’re selling too. The key often lies in examining people’s habits before promoting the new ones your product entails. Ideally, the new habits will be addictive if the new product is to come into widespread use.
In the last 3 years or so my life has been on hold in many ways as we were selling our house, moving my business from bricks and mortar to a largely virtual one, and deciding where to live. During that period it was difficult to develop new routines for many of the life changes I wanted to make. Now that I’m finally installed in Hastings I no longer have an excuse to avoid adopting new habits.
The starting point has been to set goals and then plan how I’m going to achieve them. By making some deliberate choices of activity and turning them into new habits it is possible to achieve one’s end goals.
For example, I want to make time for more reading, and learning of new skills. Growing my abilities in various directions is going to be key to achieving some of my goals in fitness, health and wealth too. One goal involves learning to enjoy public speaking and to be good at it. So, I am looking for the quickest, surest way to achieve that, and testing a few things like Toastmasters.
Choosing new habits
I’ve been experimenting with various activities as part of a new morning routine that I might adopt the longer term.
One routine I’m exploring is getting up early before the rest of the world, and doing high-intensity exercising, followed by some reading and writing, and planning of the day ahead. I will be adding some meditation into the mix too. The routine is still experimental but I know I love being up early in the day and getting on top of the day before everyone else gets into action. Currently, I often have breakfast networking events to attend as I’m trying to meet new people in Hastings, or I have to go to London for meetings or to attend events, so that’s getting in the way of developing a daily morning routine. Ideally, I’d like to fix a morning routine and not deviate from it but in practice, I’ll probably have to settle for a morning routine that I only follow 3-4 times a week.
Parallels for organisational health
It occurred to me that there are parallels with organisational health. You see I know I’m doing myself a lot of good in having a routine for exercise and health. It gives me the energy and enthusiasm to achieve my goals and puts me in the right frame of mind for the day ahead.
It doesn’t matter that I may not understand exactly why a morning routine is so beneficial. All I know is that exercising regularly, drinking water, reading, reflecting, meditation, etc will take care of my health, fitness and stress levels. I don’t need to understand the minutiae of how or why this works. All that’s necessary is to commit to new habits to get my desired outcomes.
The parallel for organisations is that if they instil habits that take care of their culture, or intellectual property then a highly important aspect of their health and wealth will be taken care of.
I’ve created a new system of processes for businesses to follow so they keep in shape and add to their value. It’s called Legally Branded Academy 2.0.
Why “IP” protection?
Most people are familiar with the concept of “IP” as their knowledge and skills.
What is less well appreciated is that businesses in the digital economy tend to be service, knowledge-based organisations. IP fuels their business. Turning knowledge and skills into a new business or project, involves a number of intellectual property considerations. These need to be taken on board and addressed very early on in the life of any project.
Never mind that you may not understand why the right approach to decision making about fundamentals like the name of your product, business or service matters to your long-term viability and success. You may not know what’s involved to create protectable IP. However, provided you accept that IP is important to your business value and viability, then you will want to take it on board and if necessary make it the first consideration in any new project you initiate.
It’s possible to easily do this by instilling new habits into your organisation to ensure its IP is seamlessly protected.
Nowadays since the advent of the internet, more than 70% of corporate value is attributed to intellectual property.
Protecting your distinctiveness
In today’s global environment competitive advantage tends to lie in innovations, making it more important than ever before for businesses to manage their know-how and trade secrets appropriately.
They also need to consider their branding carefully, choosing names that enable them to stand out, and build a unique reputation. That’s how you make it difficult for competitors to steal your market share.
IP also gives you more impact and enables you to have a differentiated proposition that stands out in your market.
How new habits can protect IP
While the law around IP is complex, when you adopt new habits in the form of processes to protect your IP, you don’t need to know the law to be protected. Instead, by following the processes you can discover the right actions to take to be protected. This gives you peace of mind as you will find out about significant IP issues when you need to know about them. That’s how to ensure IP won’t be overlooked as your business grows and develops.
Processes manage your IP far more effectively than remembering to consult lawyers or to take the necessary actions that you already know you need to take, but which you’re likely to forget.
IP is poorly understood – even by senior managers in organisations. So, the challenge is to have a way to manage IP even if internally people don’t understand it.
Even organisations that have their own in-house legal advisers have challenges with IP due to the lack of processes in place for them to follow. Without processes to follow, individual departments can’t get on with their projects independently. It’s simply unrealistic to expect them to ask for help from lawyers at every twist and turn, such as to advise on how to choose a name and do basic checks on it themselves. This might be why it happens so often that the legal department is not consulted until it is too late. Those are the very situations when the lawyers should be thinking of putting in place processes for other departments to follow.
A new routine involving use of IP processes is the way every business can address its IP protection. Ideally, one person in the organisation will be charged with responsibility for IP. They might arrange occasional IP education companywide and otherwise, their role would be to ensure the IP processes are followed internally. Provided there is support for them at the highest level it should be possible for the organisation’s IP to be managed very effectively through the enforcement of internal rules.
This is important for organisations to do because so much of the value of a business will be contained within its brand, and other IP.
In conclusion, to take care of intellectual property entails having routine processes that are followed without fail. It doesn’t matter that you may not understand why following the routine will be good for your business and success. All you need to do is to follow essential processes and let those processes take care of your IP protection.
In the same way, any change you want to effect whether in your business or life comes down to working out what new actions and activities to adopt so that new habits are formed to reach your desired goal.