The role of Intellectual Property Rights in Innovation

Today is the World Intellectual Property Day. It is a day to emphasize the role that intellectual property rights play in innovation and creativity. This year, focus is directed towards brilliant, ingenious, curious and courageous women who have driven change in our world and helped shaping our common future.

When I read about this years theme I come to think about a book I read in 2011; Dawn over the Kalahari by Lasse Berg. In the book, the author writes about the handbag and why he thinks it is the most important innovation through all times. The hypothesis is that without the handbag, humanity wouldn’t have survived. If you ask women today, they would probably agree that they still can’t survive without their handbag. But back then, the difference between the amount of edibles you could carry by hand versus the amount you could transport in a bag made all the difference. A conclusion one could make out of this is that the only way to survive is through cooperation and that cooperation started with the handbag. Is this conclusion still valid today? I would say it is!

One of the key components in being creative and innovative is to be able to connect things, to cooperate and put together people with different life experiences. This brings multiple points of view as well as expertise in diverse disciplines. This important factor was also highlighted by Steve Jobs in his famous speech at Stanford University:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

The dilemma many companies struggle with is to be able to combine the industrial thinking in continuous improvements and the innovative mindset. New ideas are often suffocated by the bureaucracy and there is a tendency to create an innovation ”green house” as an appendix to the rest of the organization. But with the previous reasoning in mind, what do we miss out with this approach?

We believe that it is crucial to let continuous improvements and innovation interact in harmony and incorporate this in the daily work. However, this requires a well-thought-out innovation strategy that resonates well with your corporate culture.

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