Marshall Phelps has made billions of dollars for his employers and fundamentally changed the outlook of some very hard-faced businesses along the way. Burning The Ships describes how Phelps took the lessons he learned making a fortune for IBM and repeated the trick for Bill Gates at Microsoft.
Readers of this book get a no-holds barred perspective of Marshall's magic - and an intriguing insight into the inner workings of the Redmond giant.
Anecdotes from within the fortress walls are always interesting but the big payoff from BurningThe Ships is a real learning opportunity for those people and organizations who want to share in the largely untapped value of their intellectual property assets. This book is a primer for better business, in any field not just technology.
According to Phelps and Kline, Forbes estimates the opportunity value of unrealised intellectual property at a trillion dollars, per annum; unrealised because many businesses have yet to work out how to really exploit their knowledge assets. Who wouldn't want a piece of that action?
The universal business principles described in Burning The Ships are all about relationship building, collaboration and maturity; values that have not always been associated with Microsoft, historically a predatory corporation par excellence. There are some who will never be convinced that the leopard can change its spots but the evidence is there. Over the past few years Microsoft has built invaluable bridges by collaborating with a large number of competitors, well beyond their traditional value chain partners; a difficult journey, no doubt, but worthwhile.
Not least of the difficulties described by the authors is the challenge of relaxing long-held personal and corporate beliefs.
Most of us guard our secrets carefully and worry about losing real value if we open the kimono and let others see what we have been hiding. Agreeing to share intellectual property, either on a commercial or non-commercial basis, is total anathema to many businesspeople. It's also a legal minefield that needs extremely careful navigation.
But attitudes are changing and I genuinely believe that an increasingly joined-up world requires effective joined-up management thinking, which naturally embraces collaborative development for mutual benefit.
Burning The Ships will show you not only how to lighten the load of your own baggage, by radically rethinking your historical approach to Intellectual Property but also how to build valuable new business relationships through collaboration.
So this book is worth its weight in gold, which is highly appropriate because the quest for gold in the New World drove Conquistador Hernando Cortez to burn his expedition's ships, thereby symbolically and practically demonstrating that there would be no going back. Marshall Phelps persuaded IBM and Microsoft to follow the example of Cortez, with tremendous returns. His experiences and David Kline's writing expertise combine to smooth your path to a better business future. Highly recommended.