Organisations are likely to have processes, manufacturing techniques, inventions, designs, drawings, formulae, practical knowledge, selling techniques and skills which are used in the production of products or services. Know-how is essentially the ability to execute specific tasks or to produce products and services based on these various pieces of knowledge. Though they may seem trivial in the course of daily activities, these processes and ideas can be hugely valuable to your company’s strategy and market differentiation.
Often, this know-how is simply stored in your employees’ heads rather than in a tangible, accessible format. Some information is simply acquired from carrying out employment duties, whereas other information may be of a sensitive nature and specific only to the particular business for which the employee works (and can even qualify for protection as a trade secret). Regardless, this is valuable know-how, and it needs to be recorded and protected.
While tacit knowledge, or internal intuition, is unlikely to be a company asset, explicit knowledge consisting of facts, rules, relationships and policies are capable of being faithfully codified. Recording know-how is the critical first step, even where the information is used by a small portion of your company. When this codified knowledge is shared across the company and its employees, via servers or intranet, it then transforms into organisational knowledge, a repeatable and valuable asset that can underpin a company’s competitive advantage regardless of employee exits.
Know-how is often an overlooked and undervalued IP asset class, even though it is a critical component of our Metisology. Know-how can also be the subject of a licence agreement; though under-utilised by SMEs, technical, production, logistical, support and marketing know-how can be licensed to local companies in emerging markets, where a demand for know-how typically exists. To learn how we can help you ensure you get the most value out of your IP assets, please visit our IP Management page, or jump over to our blog to learn more!
Photo credit: Saad Faruque