Intangible Drivers of Performance

“Not everything that can be counted counts,
and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Albert Einstein

When I feel especially frustrated or impatient with those who want metrics for anything and everything of value, I reference this quote from Einstein. The play on words makes it almost too easy to throw it away as just another slick slogan. And I fear that’s what our clients often do, regrettably.

I recently heard the CFO of a Fortune 50 company speak to a group of senior R&D; executives about the impact of non-financial, intangible factors on how Wall Street analysts make their buy/sell recom-mendations. But when it comes to promoting innovation and enhancing performance, it’s remarkable to me how quickly leaders revert to their apparent comfort zone of finding or creating metrics which can be analyzed, scrutinized, and then refined in order to make their case for improved productivity.

There is a great map of intangible assets as part of an article, “Do Intangibles Matter?” in the current issue of Chief Executive. Check it out! As the article notes, only one-third of executives polled “claimed that their companies were proficient in monitoring critical non-financial indicators of corporate performance.”

What’s required to appreciate more fully the impact of these “intangibles”? One place to begin: ask yourself the question, “What’s the difference between inspiration and motivation?”