Managing Intangibles That Create Tangible Results

by Jay Deragon on 06/18/2013

out of the closet Often when you attempt to engage management in a discussion about the importance of managing intangibles their body language and attention span screams disengagement. It is as if the word “intangible” has become the politically incorrect word forbidden from corporate speak.

At the same time the business world is being surrounded with a growing body of evidence that intangibles have significant impact on corporate performance. HBR, Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, Fast Company, Inc., Wall Street Journal Editorial and a host of other top media stories are dominated by evidence of impact on operating results things like organizational culture, human capital, employee engagement, customer relations, values and all that which has historically been labeled squishy —the intangibles.

Just maybe the word intangible is the problem but that is no excuse to ignore the value of intangibles and their direct impact on results. All the “soft stuff” that isn’t on the operating statements or balance sheets is now showing evidence of influencing organizations results more than all those things we’ve previously been counting and reporting to accounting.

Intangibles Are Coming Out of the Closet

Mark Crowley writes in Fast Company:  Over the past year, Gallup researchers interviewed nearly 150,000 workers–people in all states and industries–and discovered that a stunning number are miserable in their jobs. More specifically, only 30% of the nation’s working population today admits to being fully engaged at work. While Gallup encouragingly notes that there’s been a slight improvement to engagement since the Great Recession, it’s hard to cheer when you realize 52% of Americans admit to being disengaged in their jobs, and another 18% to being actively disengaged.

To fully comprehend these grim stats, imagine crew teams out on the Potomac River where three people are rowing their hearts out, five are taking in the scenery, and two are trying to sink the boat. It’s hard to conceive how businesses can thrive when so few people are working to move it forward.

A decade or so ago, many in business dismissed the notion that there are clear links between employee engagement and an organization’s overall success.  Gallup’s report specifically states that engagement drives greater productivity, lower turnover, and a better quality of work. For punctuation, it adds: “Organizations in the top decile of engagement outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share, and have 90% better growth trend than their competition.”

Now consider the above article only addresses the value of employee engagement which is only one of many intangible assets under developed and mis-managed within organizations today. Just imagine what kind of results your organization could achieve if you were able to identify and improve upon the performance of all the important intangibles that drive results.

There is no need to imagine anymore rather the need is to take tangible action to understand and manage the intangibles.


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