One summer afternoon, on the way to his favorite fishing hole, my grandfather took a short rest in the middle of a field behind house. He gazed upon his modest crop of corn that he had planted earlier in the spring as if he were Cortez, first looking upon the Pacific Ocean.
“You ain’t a man unless you own some land,” he spoke softly, as if it were a proclamation to the heavens, rather than an attempt to impart wisdom to his grandson.
It wasn’t until recently when I heard a colleague and friend of mine, Dana Robinson, a professor of law at the University of San Diego School of Law and author of several learning courses at lynda.com, talk about a new form of equity in our knowledge based economy—Intellectual Property.
“You probably know something about personal property. Your house or the things you probably have in your house. These are tangible things. That’s how we think of property in most cases, but what about intangible property? What about the things that are invisible that we want to consider property? We call those things “intellectual property.”
For generations, like my grandfather’s, land ownership was a significant and tangible asset to either provide or supplement a means to a living for much of the world. To this day, owning a home or physical property is still a valuable economic resource for individuals and families. But over the past quarter century, technology has pushed the light of the dawning knowledge revolution high into sky, dramatically shifting precious resources from the fertile fields of physical property, to the wellspring that reside in the minds of individuals throughout every level of today’s workforce—intellectual property.
40 years ago, the typical American company had about 20% of its assets in intellectual property or intangible assets. Today that number is more like 80%. Leveraging the 80% of today’s intangible assets within an organization is as great of a challenge as it is an opportunity for leaders and individuals.
Knowledge into Action
But intellectual property is not just about knowledge, it’s about how organizations and individuals leverage corporate and employee knowledge into action as a means to create revenue. If the acquisition of lynda.com by LinkedIn last week (LinkedIn to Buy lynda.com , NY Times) did not send sock waves through the business world last week from the sheer numbers, 1.5 Billion, than the fact that LinkedIn is preparing to transcend beyond the FaceBook of business and a real time resume resource, into becoming the leading provider of real time skills to polish up your LinkedIn profile, than you’re not paying attention to how the world of business is changing.
Gone are the days when executive leaders can simply make a decision and pass it down the chain of command for implementation. Gone are the days where you punch a clock, push some buttons, pull some levers and the company generates revenue like a well-oiled machine. And even perhaps more importantly, gone are the days when we hire and retain employees based solely on where they received their degree, or the level they attainted at a university, or the years of experience they have in the workplace—but rather how they can turn their theoretical knowledge from the halls of academia or years of experience into action through demonstrated real time skills that cultivate tangible assets for today’s knowledge economy.
Skills are the New Currency
In today’s highly technical job market, skills are quickly becoming the new currency for new hire selection and on the job performance. Mastery of job skills is more critical to personal and organizational success than degrees and certificates. The right set skills matched to the right job function is the difference between excellence and mediocrity in today’s workforce. Skills are the new currency of today’s workforce.
Perhaps while on the way to the local fishing hole this summer, I’ll take a rest with my son, pull out my iPhone, and open up my LinkedIn profile and look toward the sky’s and proclaim, “You can’t pay the bills unless you got the skills,” as he shakes his head at me with displeasure.
Jason Diamond Arnold is a Leadership Consultant for The Ken Blanchard Companies and Cofounder of DiamondHawk Leadership & Media. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action, a powerful learning experience designed to help individual contributors to excel at work and in their career through critical leadership and business skills.