Saturday, September 15, 2012

China Stalls IP Reform at Its Own Peril

Sir James Dyson: China Stalls IP Reform at Its Own Peril
The Financial Times
September 4, 2012

China’s rise as an industrial powerhouse is sweeping aside tired stereotypes. It has long been considered the home of cheap, mass-assembled goods. But now the country no longer wants to be seen as the workshop of the world. It wants to become the world leader in invention, patents and ideas. Unfortunately, China’s failure to keep its intellectual property law up to speed threatens to undermine its genuine progress, at home and abroad.

China can and will be an invaluable trading partner to both the U.S. and the U.K. But it cannot afford to fail to protect the ideas that we’ve spent years developing. It’s time to stop tiptoeing around the issue. Regardless of the offender, patent infringement is theft, pure and simple. And without punitive or regulatory action it undermines invention globally. China has promised reform. But that reform needs to be delivered.

Theft of intellectual property isn’t just confined to Rolex watches and Louis Vuitton bags. It includes everything from iPads to entire IKEA stores. Technology and ideas that are stripped apart, mimicked and mass produced. Many people know what they’re buying into when they purchase cheap knock-offs. But with a cocktail of fake branding and photo-shopped packaging, an increasing number won’t — not until a motor cuts out, a dial falls off or something worse.

It’s a growing problem. According to the Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement, as much as 8% of Chinese GDP comes from the sale of counterfeit goods. And up to 10% of all high-tech products sold worldwide are counterfeit. Those are staggering numbers.

Understandably, international companies are applying pressure to prevent knock-offs from flooding the market. For high tech companies China is an increasingly important trading partner. But it becomes an uphill battle if unscrupulous companies can undercut the millions required to invest in technology. The U.S. International Trade Commission reported that U.S. IP-intensive firms operating in China reported losses of approximately $48.2 billion in sales, royalties, or license fees due to IP infringement in China in 2009. And China is not impervious to domestic copycats, either.

Dyson invests heavily in research and development. We have growing team of 1,300 engineers whose job it is to develop new ideas. R&D is not only expensive, it is inherently risky. And it becomes doubly so if you can’t depend on patents to protect your idea. We’ve seen 100 different infringements of our fan appear in 20 countries. And we have to pursue each copycat separately. Evidence can be impossible to track down. Sometimes it can be hard to even find the manufacturer. One recent copycat used a public subway station as its trading address.

I’ve fought court battles over my inventions before. And many of the recent cases we’ve fought have been against Chinese owned and run brands, often in Western guises. We’ve had some victories of late — but it’s an expensive process. Aggressively protecting patents is essential to conserve an edge over competitors and to protect our investment in research and development. It’s frustrating and costly though; we’ve spent over $1.5 million in China alone battling rip-offs. For young inventors and start-ups, having your patents plagiarized is a potentially ruinous state of affairs.

It is of global interest to dam the infringement floodgates. Last week British companies including Dyson and members of the British government met with Chinese representatives. In the summit, the commissioner of China’s State Intellectual Property Office acknowledged that IP infringements in the country are of concern but insisted that they’ve made fantastic progress over recent years.

They’re right — but that progress lags well behind the country’s meteoric growth. Dyson has been waiting three years for our patents to be approved as Chinese companies seemingly jump the queue. The country benefits from strict intellectual property rules abroad, but fails to sufficiently police its own offenders at home. Chinese representatives have insisted there are ways to fast track a patent when an infringement occurs. Our experience is to the contrary but we look forward to resolving these issues. This dialogue is encouraging, but it must be backed by action. Western countries and the World Trade Organisation have pushed China to institute reforms and insist on a level playing field. Continued discussions with world leaders and members of industry will help plot a course to an open and fair patent system in China.

The Chinese government knows that the real profit is in developing world class technology. And its commitment to doing so dwarfs efforts elsewhere. Chinese leaders are looking to increase the amount of GDP they spend on R&D to 2.5% and double the number of patents they grant by 2015. Home grown invention is a good thing. And Chinese companies expect patents to be enforced around the world. The problem is that the protection isn’t reciprocated.

China can and will be an invaluable trading partner to both the U.S. and the U.K. But it cannot afford to fail to protect the ideas that we’ve spent years developing. Bilateral trade depends upon it. If we don’t work toward real reform, we will jeopardise the value of research and development globally. And along with it the jobs, wealth and exports they create.

Roy Hart: Chorus VII from "The Rock" by T.S. Eliot

In the beginning GOD created the world. Waste and void.
Waste and void. And darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And when there were men, in their various ways, they struggled in torment towards GOD
Blindly and vainly, for man is a vain thing, and man without GOD is a seed upon the wind:
driven this way and that, and finding no place of lodgment and germination.
They followed the light and the shadow,
and the light led them forward to light and the shadow led them to darkness,
Worshipping snakes or trees, worshipping devils rather than nothing: crying for life beyond life, for ecstasy not of the flesh.
Waste and void. Waste and void. And darkness on the face of the deep.

And the Spirit moved upon the face of the water.
And men who turned towards the light and were known of the light
Invented the Higher Religions; and the Higher Religions were good
And led men from light to light, to knowledge of Good and Evil.
But their light was ever surrounded and shot with darkness
As the air of temperate seas is pierced by the still dead breath of the Arctic Current;
And they came to an end, a dead end stirred with a flicker of life,
And they came to the withered ancient look of a child that has died of starvation.
Prayer wheels, worship of the dead, denial of this world, affirmation of rites with forgotten meanings
In the restless wind-whipped sand, or the hills where the wind will not let the snow rest.
Waste and void. Waste and void. And darkness on the face of the deep.

Then came, at a predetermined moment, a moment in time and of time,
A moment not out of time, but in time, in what we call history:
transecting, bisecting the world of time, a moment in time but not like a moment of time,
A moment in time but time was made through that moment :
for without the meaning there is no time, and that moment of time gave the meaning.
Then it seemed as if men must proceed from light to light, in the light of the Word,
Through the Passion and Sacrifice saved in spite of their negative being;
Bestial as always before, carnal, self-seeking as always before, selfish and purblind as ever before,
Yet always struggling, always reaffirming, always resuming their march on the way that was lit by the light;
Often halting, loitering, straying, delaying, returning, yet following no other way.

But it seems that something has happened that has never happened before:
though we know not just when, or why, or how, or where.
Men have left GOD not for other gods, they say, but for no god; and this has never happened before
That men both deny gods and worship gods, professing first Reason,
And then Money, and Power, and what they call Life, or Race, or Dialectic.
The Church disowned, the tower overthrown, the bells upturned, what have we to do
But stand with empty hands and palms turned upwards
In an age which advances progressively backwards ?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Work-Life Balance: A Different Cut

Life-Work Balance
Work-Life Balance: A Different Cut
Stephen R. Covey 03.21.07, 12:15 PM ET

The challenge of work-life balance is without question one of the most significant struggles faced by modern man. I’ve surveyed thousands of audiences about their greatest personal and professional challenges. Life balance is always at or near the top.

Much of my teaching and writing in this area has focused on the power each one of us possesses to: 1) take responsibility for, and become the creative force of, our lives; 2) decide what's most important in our whole lives--developing a vision and deep commitment to the "first things" of life and; 3) to then put those first things first and organize our lives around our priorities. For something that seems so self-evident to most people, it’s remarkable how many of us struggle to translate our intellectual awareness into day-to-day practice and decision-making.

Many people simply conclude that they are not disciplined enough. My response to that idea is that it’s usually not a discipline problem at all. The problem is more often that the person has not yet sufficiently paid the price to get very clear about what matters most to them. Once you have a burning “yes” inside you about what’s truly important, it’s very easy to say “no” to the unimportant.

However, when you get beyond the personal, there is another profoundly pervasive cause for work-life imbalance. It is to be found in the painful and surprisingly ineffective way most organizations work. In no way is this pain more clearly or practically manifest than their inability to focus and execute on their highest priorities. Using what we call the xQ (Execution Quotient) Questionnaire, Harris Interactive, the originators of the Harris Poll, and FranklinCovey recently polled 23,000 U.S. residents employed full time within key industries and in key functional areas. Consider a few of their most stunning findings:

--Only 37% said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why.
--Only 1 in 5 were enthusiastic about their team’s and organization’s goals.
--Only 1 in 5 workers said they have a clear “line of sight” between their tasks and their team’s and organization’s goals.
--Only half were satisfied with the work they have accomplished at the end of the week.
--Only 15% felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals. --Only 15% felt they worked in a high-trust environment.
--Only 17% felt their organization fosters open communication that is respectful of differing opinions and that results in new and better ideas.
--Only 10% felt that their organization holds people accountable for results.
--Only 20% fully trusted the organization they work for.
--Only 13% have high-trust, highly cooperative working relationships with other groups or departments.

The data is sobering. It matches my own experience with people in organizations of every kind all around the world. Despite all our gains in technology, product innovation and world markets, most people are not thriving in the organizations they work for. They are neither fulfilled nor excited. They are frustrated. They are not clear about where the organization is headed or what its highest priorities are. They are bogged down and distracted. Most of all, they don’t feel they can change much. Can you imagine the personal and organizational cost of failing to fully engage the passion, talent and intelligence of the workforce? Can you imagine the waste of time, energy and resources?

The bottom line is, when people are crystal clear about the most important priorities of the organization and team they work with and prioritized their work around those top priorities, not only are they many times more productive, they discover they have the time they need to have a whole life. We have found there are four keys or organizational/team disciplines that produce this kind of freedom and productivity:

--Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important. This means you need to narrow your focus down to the one, two or three most important goals you must achieve. These goals are so important that if you don’t achieve them, nothing else you achieve really matters much.

--Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures. After you’ve narrowed your focus to the few key goals you must accomplish, you need to select the few key activities that are predictive of goal achievement and that you can influence on a weekly basis. These are called “lead measures.” These lead measures are 80/20 activities--that is, 80% of the results come from 20% of these activities. The 80/20 rule is also known as the Pareto principle.

--Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard. Once you’ve defined your goals and measures, you need to put them on a scoreboard so everyone knows all the time whether you’re winning or losing.

--Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability—a rhythm of team-based engagement and accountability.

Want balance in your life? Then sure, get your own act together, but don’t forget four powerful disciplines of execution in your team and organization. You’ll not only produce results, you’ll create your own freedom.

© 2007 FranklinCovey Co.

Stephen R. Covey is a co-founder of the FranklinCovey Company and the author of a number of best-selling books, including The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. Dr. Covey is now offering a monthly live Webinar series. Learn more at