It’s often said that 80% of New Year’s resolutions have gone out the window by February. There are probably a multitude of reasons why this should be so but high on the list is the fact that most resolutions are outcome goals rather than process goals.
You might well think that it doesn’t matter - surely goal setting is goal setting, right? Well that’s not strictly speaking true. ‘Outcome’ goals are those that focus on an eventual outcome with the immediate and key difficulty being that the outcome we seek is not always something that we control absolutely. ‘Process’ goals concentrate their efforts on creating a new (or adapting an existing) process that works towards the desired outcome rather than simply stating the desired outcome as a goal.
For example, in 2019, you might decide that you want to run a 10k marathon before the end of the year. There are innumerable considerations that may prevent you from doing this that you cannot control - unforeseen work or family commitments, illness or injury. The difficulty being that if you do not get to run or complete your 10k marathon, then you have failed in your goal which is both demotivating and depressing. As soon as it becomes clear that you are unlikely to reach that goal, you will probably quit because effort with no return is somewhat pointless.
A process goal for the same desired outcome looks a little different. Your goal for 2019 might be to work on increasing your running fitness instead. With that in mind, you start on a basic fitness regime with this in mind. Some weeks you will make more progress than others and that’s ok. Going on holiday won’t necessarily derail your plans. Should your initial regime prove unworkable or too much, you can adapt it to suit or increase it should it not be challenging enough. As unforeseen events and changes crop up through the year, you can adapt to them. If you quit for a month, it doesn’t matter as long as you come back to it. A process goal is something you do control absolutely and it is better designed for success because it acknowledges a fundamental truth about being human - progress and success lies in the hundreds of little choices that we make every day and not in the big impressive thing.
So with that in mind, here are 6 ‘process - based’ New Years Resolutions for trademark professionals in 2019:
1) Create more time in your working day:
This probably applies to every person on the planet but it is particularly resonant for people in the trademark space. Researching and developing ideas to earn you additional time in your working day is a worthwhile investment. Sometimes small changes are the most powerful and a quick analysis of your working day and seeing where your time actually goes can often highlight some quite small changes that will buy you extra time every day.
2) Find ways around the frequent lack of dedicated admin support:
Closely related to the above, dedicated admin support for repetitive and administrative tasks can do a lot to help you create a more efficient workflow. If this is part of the challenge for you then it might be worth exploring and negotiating for even a few regular hours a week of support?
3) Reduce your non-billable workload:
For those working in private practice, time spent on work that cannot be billed is a serious issue. Any reduction in non-billable hours, even at quite small percentages, is advantageous.
4) Plan to become a better ‘business partner’:
Being seen as a business partner is important for all trademark practitioners whether in house or in private practice and this importance is growing year on year. Setting aside some regular allocated time to research the business or industry, talk with different departments or clients or even dedicatedly read an industry publication (instead of leaving it in your inbox) can boost your innate understanding of issues and insights into solving problems.
5) Improve communications with relevant stakeholders:
Better communication is rapidly becoming a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’ across all industries and markets. Along with outbound communications, client or company education around the importance and value of IP has been a persistent challenge. Finding better ways to communicate value and make that relevant and impactful will be key to professional performance in the coming years.
6) Better manage the flow of information:
One thing that is never lacking in trademark work is information. It can often be more of a tsunami than a flow. Assessing information and sources, prioritising relevant information over less relevant and figuring out the ‘need to know’ is taxing and time consuming. Assessing what information helps you to do your job better, identifying gaps, investigating sources of information and finding more effective filtering methods can be a gift that keeps on giving.
For those who manage trademarks across a number of regions, having a quick understanding of the likely timeframes to registration in each can help you strategise more effectively and synchronise applications to meet the business goals along with managing internal expectations. Our guide to “Essential Timing - Assessing International Trademark Application Processing Times” can help to get your new efficiency efforts off to a flying start!