Running a patent harvesting meeting is a new experience for many business people. It is important to gain experience the right way, with measurable results and successes. Patent awards, patent recognition, invention harvesting, and IP harvesting can all happen with the help of a well-run patent or invention harvesting meeting.
The problem is, these meetings are not so simple to run! The rewards are great, however, for both companies and individuals, when they go smoothly. Whether you are new or experienced at running these meetings, consider these basics to get you off on the right foot.
All too often, harvesting meetings become confusing. It’s because everyone is trying to share ideas at once. It’s good that they are trying to verbalize their idea. After all, the most unsuccessful patent harvesting meeting would be one where no one put a potential patent on the table! But, taking care of many lines of conversation at once is a difficult task.
The solution here lies in effective delegating. A good solution, according to Carlo Cotrone of Baker Hughes, is to create a “champions” role, where the champion acts as a designated liaison between company divisions. Delegation for cross-channel communication helps everyone get clarity on their language and paperwork. Responsibility is key for this role, so choose wisely and try to pick someone who has good people skills in addition to strong communication skills.
It’s also important to delegate who will run the meeting versus who will attend. Many times, people want to jump up and speak. Giving clear direction about who is running the meeting gives you a way to put the meeting back on track if it derails. You can dictate meeting guidelines, such as the schedule or who is keeping the minutes, on meeting paperwork to make running the meeting a little easier for the administrator.
Aside from having “champions” and clearly outlining who runs the meeting, you should clearly delegate other individual responsibilities, such as who will manage the whiteboard. The simplest tasks are often overlooked, but they can really disrupt a meeting sometimes. Avoid confusion by itemizing each meeting function and clearly assigning responsibility.
Educate Before the Meeting Happens
Sometimes, people with fresh ideas and new patents to offer aren’t very experienced in the corporate process. You still want to include them in the meeting! But without some education, they may not be able to fully participate. Cotrone recommends having a strong training platform at your company put in place prior to the meetings. The training could include things like presentation skills, how to diagram, chart reading, and interpersonal professional communication. There are many more skills that go into effectively participating in a patent harvesting meeting, and they are all worth some attention in a good training program. If you cannot get a training program in place, at the very least a preparatory newsletter or some one-on-one mentoring would suffice to help get a new person ready for their first round of invention harvesting meetings.
New Approaches in Business: What is IP Harvesting?
IP harvesting used to be done ad hoc, more often than not. As businesses progress in the digital age, however, they are working with enterprise invention management to facilitate patent harvesting that is more flexible and theoretically produces more patents. There are many software companies that work within this arena, so you have good options if you choose to run your intellectual property harvesting program on a more continuous basis.
With enterprise invention management, you can keep records of potential patent material as employees work, so they don’t have to wait for big meetings to present some of their material. If you choose to work this way, you may have an easier time sourcing patent material at meetings. Or, you can go the traditional route and ask people to save their ideas for a meeting. Then you must rely on good liaisons and division “champions” to unearth potential patent material at the meeting.
Address the Industry
Whether you harvest ad hoc or use a software to help you continually manage, you will need to address the industry at meetings. Talking about industry standards, the competition, and the most up-to-date equipment and patents in the industry are important for gaining focus in your meeting.
People need to know how their ideas compare in order to present a good patent. They may not know if their patent idea is weak or too complex without being able to compare it to industry standards. Finding faults before the patent process happens can only make your patent bid stronger, because there is a chance to fix the errors beforehand if you dig deep into industry details prior to filing.
Address Company Culture and Personality
Any type of meeting can be derailed by personality conflicts, and a harvesting meeting is no different. If you are running the meeting, taking time to meet people beforehand is a great idea. Introductions give you a heads-up about different personalities and working styles. If you are running the meeting on behalf of a company that isn’t yours, or if you are new, it’s a good idea to research company culture first.
Many times people choose to do meetings that aren’t in keeping with company style, and they tend to experience less success than those who do. You can also err by choosing the wrong time and place for your meeting, if you skip your cultural research. Make sure that you don’t choose to do a meeting during everyone’s busiest day of the week, for example.
Take Care of Logistics
Some basic logistical goals are to schedule the meeting on a day that is convenient for most people, to define the time of the meeting (and be on time), and to set an internal meeting schedule. You will also want to take care to note people’s prior project commitments, especially if they are overloaded, so that you can delegate accordingly.
Logistical issues, such as whether meetings are on time or late, can make or break a meeting. If you are having many logistical issues with scheduling or getting people to attend, you can try to make the meetings more fun. Attending to small logistics, such as fun snacks (emphasis on fun here!) and enough drinks, as well as meals, if needed, will help you keep your meeting ideas flowing and attendance higher.
Keeping meetings on schedule is perhaps the most important aspect, after appropriate delegation of responsibilities, of your harvesting meeting. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have someone do introductions, both to people and company initiatives, so that everyone can follow along. Meetings that are hard to follow, or ones that don’t have adequate refreshments, tend to be less successful. You can build success of meetings over time with a good training program, as the real key here is experience. Whether you invest in software or work ad hoc, your harvesting endeavors will be rewarded more and more as you attend to details and help your attendees garner experience.
Cotrone, Carlo. September 20, 2016. Invention Harvesting: Best Practices for Turning Inspiration into Action. IP Watchdog. Accessed at https://www.ipwatchdog.com/2016/09/20/invention-harvesting-best-practices/id=72738/