My friends in the academic world who keep track of these things tell me that there are dozens of systems and frameworks that have been suggested for measurement and reporting of intangible capital. What many, many of them have in common is that they are trying to create a structure for reporting that moves in the direction of creating “standards.”

Normally, I would say that this is a good thing. Standards can be really valuable. They help simplify communication and collaboration. There are lots of standards in the tech world that ensure interoperability of hardware and software. There are standards in financial reporting that help make the markets more efficient. In the future there will be more and more standards as more and more devices and processes need to talk with each other. And, yes, some day there will probably be intangibles reporting standards.

But we don't know enough yet to set standards. For now, we need to stop focusing on creating rules and spend more time focusing on questions like: What works? What information helps people work together? What are the intangibles that drive success in an individual business? What kind of information helps companies tell their story more effectively?

The answers to these questions are still emerging and developing. We have a long way to go before we are ready for standards. First we have to collectively understand what works and why. We need to learn before we dictate.

Join the learning and the conversation at Smarter-Companies. We’re exploring the frontiers of intangibles management and measurement. But we are still a standards-free zone.

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