WashingtonExec guest columnist Andrew Sherman recently published his 21st book, “Harvesting Intangible Assets: Planting The Seeds For A Culture of Innovation.” Sherman is Partner at Jones Day Washington, D.C. office as well as Adjunct Professor for the University of Maryland and Georgetown University MBA programs. Sherman recently sat down with WashingtonExec to talk about the themes found in his book; including where opportunities for entrepreneurship can be found in this slowed economy and how to bring in revenue from those “unharvested intangible assets.”
A short, informational interview, Sherman’s book is bound to be a hit…look for it on Amazon here.
WashingtonExec: Your 21st book, Harvesting Intangible Assets, was just published by AMACOM this month. What is the book about and why is it so timely in this weak economy?
Andrew Sherman: The book begins with the observation that we began as an agrarian economy, evolved to an industrial economy and then shifted to an information-based economy, but in many ways, we are still agrarians. Our new crops are knowledge, systems, channels, processes, know-how, brands, relationships and intellectual property and we must care for these resources and drivers of shareholder value in the same way that our farming ancestors tend to their fields.
In order to grow in a slow economy and a resource-constrained environment, entrepreneurs as well as leaders of more established companies need to deploy capital-efficient growth strategies to drive shareholder value. Trillions of dollars worth of unharvested intangible assets are sitting on the vines of fortune 1000 companies, universities, government labs and even non-profits and they must be harvested on a timely basis and brought to the marketplace or they will rot and be wasted. We are not operating in an economy where valuable assets can be discarded just because leaders are distracted or shareholder value is being ignored.
WashingtonExec: That sounds like the formula for the key to a global economic recovery. What do executives need to do to implement these strategies?
Andrew Sherman: To build and sustain a culture truly committed to creativity, innovation, and intellectual capital agrarianism, boards of directors and executives of companies of all sizes and in all industries must break through the management paradigm of insanity. Turf wars, politics, red tape, budget nepotism, envy, ego, greed, cronyism, short-term thinking, and rapid changes in strategic direction for no apparent reason must be removed from the culture and replaced with the fuel, the tools, the resources, and the attitudes that drive the innovative process.
Any organization, whether a for-profit business, a nonprofit organization, a government agency, or an academic institution, that has a culture where there is a direct or indirect, explicit or implicit, stated or whispered vested interest in keeping things exactly the same to produce continuity and to win the elusive prize of job security will surely die a slow death and will never be a place where creativity is cherished or innovation is harvested.
Cultures of innovation are places where creativity is celebrated, rewarded and cherished of all levels in the organization. When teams are truly inspired and passionate about their work, they are much more likely to discover and to dream without the fear “extra effort” or discretionary time (e.g. time and effort expended in the workplace beyond what is typically expected) that innovation can flourish and valuable crops can grow.