Social (3)

Don’t Get Blindsided

horse_blinders_blinkers_winkers_atheist_atheism_science.JPG?width=250I was sitting on my couch flipping through Fast Company last night and found two articles back to back in the Next section that are like a double punch for any businessperson who isn’t already thinking about how social technologies will change their world. (I was so struck by the double whammy, I looked to see if the editors noted the link between the two...I guess they just let them speak for themselves)

The first, You Sign, Companies Listen is about where anyone can make a petition about anything:

Disgruntled customers have used to pressure insurance companies into covering denied treatments and force mortgage lenders to halt foreclosures. A 2012 campaign launched by 10-year-old Mia Hansen convinced Jamba Juice to ditch Styrofoam cups for an eco-friendly alternative. Another, started by 14-year-old Julia Bluhm, persuaded Seventeen magazine to stop Photoshopping models. In May of this year, 18-year-old Benjamin O'Keefe called out Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries on the lack of larger sizes in the company's stores, and two weeks and 75,000 signatures later found himself in a meeting with Abercrombie execs discussing ways to make their brand more inclusive.

The website is providing the platform and also teaching people how to craft effective petitions that lead to real change.

The second article, Not Kidding Around, is about how young consumers are “angry, vocal and eager for change.” It quotes Umair Haque:

That stuff is really there, and we have to build different kinds of organizations. Otherwise the young are going to eat these companies alive. They don't trust them, they don’t want to do business with them. 

This is scary to many businesspeople because they are afraid that they could be blindsided at any moment by a seemingly random attack from a customer or activist. But, if you are thinking about the present and future of your company in the right way, you’ll be well ahead of this kind of “attack.” What’s the right way to think? How can you manage proactively? I have two basic pieces of advice:

First, focus your management efforts on your intangible capital. That means having and actively managing an inventory of your key intangibles (including human, relationship, structural and strategic assets) and working to keep it healthy and in balance. If tangible assets are key to your competitive advantage, include them here too.

Second, measure your intangibles from the outside in. Most companies are experienced with what I like to call “inside-out” measurement like financials and scorecards that use internal metrics of both tangibles and intangibles. But very few engage in comprehensive “outside-in” measurement exercises. This involves asking your stakeholders (customers, partners, communities, employees) how you’re doing with all of the key intangibles on your inventory (here's an example).

If you match stakeholder assessments against your inventory, you’ll create a heat map that tells you where you are doing well and where you are vulnerable. It gives you time to work on it all and communicate openly with your stakeholders about what you’re doing. Wouldn’t you rather do that rather than waiting for someone else to shine a light on your vulnerabilities when you least expect it?

That’s what ICounting is all about. It’s a set of proactive measures that looks at the intangibles that make up 80% of the value of the average business today. I guarantee you that your business is dependent on intangibles for success and competitive advantage. Measure them today and you won’t get blindsided tomorrow.

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A new step in the development of our community

For many years I have had a great interest (some would say obsession!) about the role of intangible capital in the growth and competitiveness of companies. With the help of my colleagues, our clients and our broad network, we worked to develop  tools and methodologies to support this thinking. And we created this web community to share our learnings because we felt strongly that one person or one company could never have all the answers. Until now, the community was known as the IC Knowledge Center. Today, I am announcing a new future for our community with the re-launching of the site as smarter-companies

This new site will be designed around our existing community. To date, we have attracted an international audience. 60% of you are consultants. 20% are academics (many of whom also consult). The remainder includes attorneys, companies, non-profits, governments and solutions providers. Your areas of specialization include intellectual/intangible capital, knowledge management, human capital, innovation, finance, information technology, marketing, performance management and intellectual property.



In short, our community is like a map of the intangible capital of the organizations we serve. Yet the potential of our community’s IC, like that of many organizations, has not been fully developed. That’s why we’ve made the decision to re-name the community and create a business model around it.

Going forward, at smarter-companies, we will be offering the products and methodologies that we’ve developed over the last seven years (some as open source and some as paid products) under the ICounts name. But we hope that our products will be surrounded by products from other consultants and service providers. Our goal is for the smarter-companies site to become a place of continuous learning about how to create smarter companies—and also a marketplace of solutions that help consultants and companies apply that learning.

As we enter 2013, allow me to share my belief in a bright future. The ultimate message of intangible capital is that we share collective knowledge, much of it untapped, that has the potential to conquer the challenges facing the world and create profitable, sustainable businesses fueled by the power of people, communities and social technologies.

I hope you will join us on this journey,  Mary Adams


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What If We Got It Backwards?

What if the human species was SUPPOSED to evolve to a social organization system where everything that we now call 'intangibles', were in fact 'tangible'; and, everything that we now call 'tangible', were in fact, 'intangible'.  What would that world look like?

This not so far fetched actually because our species has already created an incentives based economy that rewards people who act in their own best interest.  We also created Calculus - one of the greatest achievements of the human mind - to keep track of all the moving bits of an integrated economy.  So, why is the world falling apart?

In the following video, I am interviewed by Jay Deragon for Smarter Companies Productions where we begin to unravel a new form of capitalism where everyone acting in their own best interest is acting in the best interest of everyone else in a community.  In effect, tangibles and intangibles are swapped.


Tangibles and Intangibles
Please feel free to contact me with any comments.



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