Jay Cross just created a short video discussing the importance of intangible assets. When examining value networks, which we will discussing in our free Value Networks Workshop on March 20th, one looks at tangible and intangible types of value, the latter described by Verna Allee as:

Intangible knowledge exchanges include strategic information, planning knowledge, process knowledge, technical know-how, collaborative design, policy development, etc., which flow around and support the core product and service value chain.

Intangible benefits are advantages or favors that can be offered from one person to another. Examples might be offering to provide political support to someone. Or a research organization might ask someone to volunteer their time and expertise to a project in exchange for an intangible benefit of prestige by affiliation. These are intangible “products” that can be exchanged, as indeed people can and do “trade favors” to build relationships.

The relationship between intangibles and tangibles reminds me of the informal/formal learning continuum. In each case, it seems that the formal/tangible component is easier to measure, so that is where our industrial management methods have concentrated their efforts. As our organisations become inter-networked, and relationships create more of our value, we realise that we have to pay attention to the silent majority that is intangible/informal.

For further reading on value networks, check out Patti Anklam’s blog at Networks, Complexity and Relatedness.

One Response to “Intangibles”

  1. Jay Cross

    Harold, you may know that Verna is my muse. Her two knowledge books are inspirational. Her value-net works concepts are priceless. I’m happy that the world is waking up to her genius.



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