How to secure the IP created from a focus group?

March 4, 2009 · Posted in innovation, Intellectual Property, strategy · Comment 

Securing intellectual property is a tricky problem. The growing trend towards open innovation methods makes it even more confusing. In reality what you’re trying to achieve is securing the value you can gather from the intellectual property.

Noted security expert Bruce Schneier points out that the best security is in layers and intelligently handles failures.

Non-disclosure agreements are one way but those often make people unwilling to participate. You can attempt to give members of the focus group some benefit for keeping it quiet. Perhaps offer them some shares for the products? Or maybe just offer future cash payments contingent on it remaining secret? This is the carrot versus the stick of a non-disclosure agreement.

Bruce Schneier has said many times that secrecy can’t be the basis of security. Ideas get out. So you need layers that catch the failures of each other. That way no single failure will penetrate the barrier.

If one focus group can come up with the idea, another would also be able to come up with that idea. So instead of using focus groups to get ideas of ??how?? to solve a need use the focus group to accurately understand ??what?? will satisfy their need. A product or service is a ??how??. The customers don’t really care about ??how?? they just want their needs satisfied.

The specific ??how?? ideas that come from a focus group help you better understand ??what?? they are trying to accomplish and ??what?? will satisfy their needs. Its the innovators job to find the best ??how?? ways to satisfy all their needs related to the task they are trying to perform.

Every ??how?? idea covers less than 1% of the entire intellectual territory. This presentation explains that math.

Using that technique you can uncover ALL the ??how?? ways to satisfy the needs for the task. With that information it is possible to then develop a layered approach to securing your intellectual property. One part of that can include patents.

OutCompete developed an approach and software that allows development of airtight patent fences around any valuable IP. this approach is based on thorough consideration of principles of protection of IP (after the patent is granted), as well as on research of patent trolls’ successes and techniques they use. So even if the 1% idea from the focus group leaks out you have built a patent fence covering the other 99%

The first layer was secrecy. The second layer is the patent fence. The next layer is flexibility.

Innovation = Satisfying Customers’ Unmet Desires. To produce the highest consistent value from innovation you must be satisfying unmet desires. When copy cats move in the pricing war begins. Its time to move quickly to the next area. With the complete innovation map you can both quickly and efficiently step to the next high value area. Plus you can do it in such a way that it builds on your strength which makes it harder and harder for others to copy cat you.

The Mind of the OutCompete Strategist Volume 1 “The Mind of the OutCompete Strategist” by Len Kaplan describes strategies that do that. ??Fat Product, Lean Process?? and ??Catch Me If You Can?? are two strategies to build that third layer of security.

The forth layer is business models that benefit from sharing. Open Source projects have found business models that actually benefit from “giving it away”. The key element to these types of models is finding something not directly part of the intellectual property and can’t be easily copied, that is your unique competitive advantage. There are many ways to do this and the Predictive Innovation Method will uncover your unique competitive advantage.

When you are ready to secure the value of intellectual property, I can help you with each layer.

Google May Harm Your Computer, Search Engine Black Swan

January 31, 2009 · Posted in innovation, strategy · Comment 

Google May Harm Your Computer

Today every page you find on Google says “This page may harm your computer” I’m guessing a very small error in the system that checks web pages has a bug from a recent change and is causing this error. Such a small error can have very big impacts. Imagine how many sites are not receiving visits because people can’t tell if they are safe or not? Imagine all the lost click revenue for Google as people switch to Yahoo?

This is one of the reasons to not have a centralized ID system for something like Homeland Security. One stupid mistake and the whole thing falls down. Even though Google is broken there are many other search engines are available. Redundant systems are much less prone to catastrophic failures. Highly optimized systems respond very badly to the odd “Black Swan” events. Most systems these days are optimized for efficiency and not for resilience.

I’m sure this will be fixed very soon. But this is really bad software testing.

Zero Tolerance Policy Theatens Security of Power Grid

May 29, 2007 · Posted in innovation · 28 Comments 

Zero Tolerance Policy This Company is a Thought Free ZoneI feel, stunned, confused, sad and disappointed. Today I became another victim of Zero Tolerance Policies. I was fired from one of the power companies in Michigan today because of a Zero Tolerance Policy. What horrible evil did I do?

For the past year I’ve been contracting to the power company supporting the systems that keep all the power on across the state. I had to pass a background check, get drug tested, plus have a wide range of skills. Only five people in the whole company of 15,000 have the experience to do the job.

The company is really messed up but the people I work with are great. We complain a lot because many of the procedures in place actually have the opposite effect of what is intended. Paper work is insane and there are many things that just can’t get done because of the red tape. Three of the critical systems are constantly failing and we can’t do much to solve the problem because of procedures and policies.

A couple departments are particularly bad, Network Security being one of the worst. When I started working there my accounts and PC were messed up for over a week even though they had 3 weeks notice I was starting work.

The others in my department are actual employees and are very busy on this big conversion project. I’m building a new house and have not been able to sell the one I’m in and really need extra money so I’ve been taking 24 hour on call duty for the last 3 weeks.

Tuesday morning May 29, 2007 at 6 am the pager went off. The system that dispatchers use to send repair crews to fix downed power lines and leaking gas lines was not working. They could not send crews to emergencies like fires.

I jumped out of bed turned on the special laptop and tried to login to the secure network to fix the problem. I tried to login but kept getting an access denied message. As the time ticked by the pager went off again and again.

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