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Harv Bus Rev. 2004 Feb;82(2):52-63, 121.

Measuring the strategic readiness of intangible assets.

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Harvard Business School, Boston, USA.


Measuring the value of intangible assets such as company culture, knowledge management systems, and employees' skills is the holy grail of accounting. Executives know that these intangibles, being hard to imitate, are powerful sources of sustainable competitive advantage. If managers could measure them, they could manage the company's competitive position more easily and accurately. In one sense, the challenge is impossible. Intangible assets are unlike financial and physical resources in that their value depends on how well they serve the organizations that own them. But while this prevents an independent valuation of intangible assets, it also points to an altogether different approach for assessing their worth. In this article, the creators of the Balanced Scorecard draw on its tools and framework--in particular, a tool called the strategy map--to present a step-by-step way to determine "strategic readiness," which refers to the alignment of an organization's human, information, and organization capital with its strategy. In the method the authors describe, the firm identifies the processes most critical to creating and delivering its value proposition and determines the human, information, and organization capital the processes require. Some managers shy away from measuring intangible assets because they seem so subjective. But by using the systematic approaches set out in this article, companies can now measure what they want, rather than wanting only what they can currently measure.

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