Avoid the Moses syndrome

An idea that everybody ignores will often not make it very far. Many ideas need a willing coalition of people to help improve and nurse the idea through execution. This means that boring ideas or ideas that are too strange to be understood, often never take off.

A metaphor. However, this is not enough. Moses was a great leader. He managed to take the children of Israel, as slaves, out of Egypt and form them into a nation. However, he was unable to do that last important step of bringing them to the promised land.

Getting back to idea space. An idea needs to be interesting and palatable enough to be picked up. However, in order to reach that “promised land” of execution, the idea needs something more. It needs to be able to focus and guide execution. Sometimes, those properties of ideas that help it take off, are not the ones that lead to ultimate success. This divergence is common in scientific ideas, where an idea may be proposed because it works and gain traction because it has an internal beauty. For some ideas, the same property which allow sit to take off, also helps it succeed.

Does your idea check both boxes: take-off and arrival?

Wardley Maps and IP strategy for startups

Just came across Wardley maps. Without oversimplifying the idea too much (His blog “bits or pieces” sets out the ideas in a book-length format) The problem is how to show the map out a company so that you can make plans, devise strategies, communicate, etc. His solution is based on two major axes:

  1. There is a value chain within a company
  2. Things naturally evolve from unique to utility

It occurs to me that something similar (not sure what yet) can be done for mapping IP strategies. As should be clear, IP strategy should be aligned with business strategy, and these maps may be a way of showing the strategies.

However, in startup companies value chain within the company is often unclear and the focus of the company is often is protecting critical items on the map.

So, perhaps, the axis of value chain should be replaced by axis of closeness to client – as focus of patents is often on blocking).

Axis of evolution should perhaps relate more to technical gap or perceived ability to bridge the gap.

In Wardley-world, a map must include both position and movement = how things can change. For IP strategy/startups, position can be location in process. movement should indicate how others want to change. Reason need not be commodification. Perhaps we need two levels of detail. one for individual technological elements and one for process elements. one issue is that the change in startups is often a change in the actual components, not just improvement of one, but actually improvement of one to the point that another can be dropped.

Finally, IP strategy is directly aimed against competition, so this needs to be indicated in some way.

Needs more thought…

Bad news is that Wardley seems to be anti-IP.

The pleasure of insight

One of the fun things about working as a patent attorney is the sheer variety that walks through the door. One is always in the state of not-knowing. And then, suddenly, in the state of yes knowing. This happens multiple times a day. This process of going from not knowing to knowing often includes one or more moments of insight. It is not easy to tell what is more pleasurable – the “aha” moment or the sense of coherence which follows.

In any case, the whole process of drafting a patent application is loaded with “aha” moments, small and large. The formalizing of drafting claims requires a sense for coherence, as claims must be coherent. And that is what “aha” moments do – allow you to reassemble the parts you have to provide a more essential understanding.

Not all insights are of the “aha” type. Some are of the “awe” type, when the significance of the new becomes clear. Some are of the “wonder” type, when the potential far reaching consequences of the idea start to appear.

To be clear, having this insight is critical. Imagine that a new thing presented to you by an inventor is like a watermelon. It is so big that you cannot fit it in your mouth or chew on it. You must find some way to knock it down in size. Insights allow you to identify slices to focus on and coherence allows you to compress the slices to a manageable size. Only then can you do your job with is to figure if and how IP methods can help the client with his goals.

Fish highway in garden

I was toying with the idea of creating a highway for fish to travel around my garden. the ideas was transparent plastic tubes which are interconnected at open containers (so fish get some fresh air). some issues were: connecting the tubes to containers, stiff enough tubes, cleaning the tubes, ensuring that tubes do not clog by plant growth, preventing cat damage.

Fish loop

I was working on an aquatic system for fish, formed of a series of aquariums. there would be a waterfall going form one aquarium to the next and a pump returning the water. BUT. what is important is that the waterfall allow the fish to jump back up. i am not sure if there should be a fish ladder or simply a low waterfall. Possibly a fish elevator, which needs to have few moving parts, maybe in the form of a water wheel or a chain of buckets. another thought was an Archimedes screw or even a tube which is filled with water by pump to keep it form emptying. need some way to convince fish to go in… another issue is that any significant height differential encourages the water to empty out rather fast from any permanent opening large enough for fish. closing openings, can pinch fish.
in any case, project stalled due to my dislike of cutting holes in glass aquariums.

The problem with ideas

We all have trouble thinking clearly

But what does that even mean?

That is part of the problem…

We will focus on one element of thinking “ideas”

And bring them to crystal clarity.

What types of ideas?

While ideas can be classified in many ways, we will focus (at start) on new ideas. This means we will treat ideas as being new, even if they are actually an improvement on a previous idea.

Of course, many ideas go through a process of improvements.

Also, we will look at ideas that solve problems. There are other types, in particular ideas that generate opportunities (well, all ideas do). Those ideas are more interesting, BTW.

By problem, we mean a specific goal which is specific enough to be tested against, and not a general goal like “making things better”. This is just so we are focused enough to get somewhere.