Organization Cultures’… Gardens Where Valuable – Competitive Intangible Assets Grow

Organization culture’s (OC’s) are garden’s of intangible assets…and generally consist of…

  • variants of intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, and 
  • some, evolve, merge, or remain embedded and stable for  generations or as a reflection of leadership – management styles.

Collectively, OC intangibles’  distinguish a company –  business…mostly relative to its…

  • brand, reputation, performance, attractivity, competitiveness, goodwill, retention, and sustainability, etc.,
  • product and services.

Desirably, OC’s mature as…positive internalized intangible assets, e.g., dependence, expectations, and credibility, etc.

To the more effective OC’s…it’s contributory role and value are further evidenced in the findings of numerous studies/surveys commissioned-undertaken by professional associations and academia, not unlike a 2012 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), survey which asked HR (human resource) leaders to identify significant ‘workforce management and staffing challenges’.

This survey attracted 770 respondents who described ‘the challenges’ as encompassing…

  1. employee engagement
  2. employee retention
  3. effective performance management
  4. employee recruitment, and
  5. company culture management

Arguably, each of these responses, at least in my view, delivers straight line relevance to organizational culture…but, on the other hand, perhaps to some, this SHRM survey findings may, at first blush, appear dated if cast in the context of today’s increasingly aggressive, predatorial, and millennialized, go fast, go hard, go global entrepreneurial – business transaction environments.

The findings of this SHRM survey, however one is inclined to interpret – apply them, have been replicated – validated…in numerous other (similar) studies-surveys. Point being, I find no need to quibble – debate what the ‘workforce management and staffing challenges’ are.

Of course, when observed through my ‘all things intangible lens’…these challenges represent important signals that should further influence business leaders and management teams to conclude, as others already have that…

  • it is in their interests to devote time, energy, and yes, some resources,
  • to aggressively engage their organization to develop, execute, and sustain an intangible asset intelligent company culture,
  • reflecting near term and strategic needs (planning)
  • which can be prudently and legitimately applied to deliver desired, measurable, and sustainable returns.

It’s hardly rocket science to suggest that a well-defined ‘intangible asset intelligent’ OC can become…

  • a prized, attractive, and measurable achievement. 
  • that manifests as a powerful contributor to organization performance, competitiveness, value, attractivity, sustainability, and
  • bringing singular clarity-definition to a desired brand.

Too, an organization-wide intangible asset intelligent OC…

  • whereby employees, management teams, and c-suites alike,
  • are faithfully committed to articulating a shared and principled base
  • comprised of and distinguished by an organization’s intellectual, structural, relationship capital, ala, forms of intangible assets,
  • can, and usually will manifest as embedded – internalized bonds
  • which genuinely mitigates each of the ‘challenges’ conveyed in the SHRM survey findings cited above.

These important and attractive realities, for any organization…will collectively manifest in the…

  • economic fact that 80+% of most organization’s value, sources of revenue, competitiveness, and other ‘building blocks’ for achieving-realizing growth, profitability, and sustainability today
  • lie in – evolve directly from various collections of (organizational) intangible assets, primarily, intellectual, structural, and relationship capital.

It is certainly not a stretch, in my view…for experienced, forward thinking-looking organization leadership to conclude that a principled and consistent OC can, and frequently does…

  • serve as a catalyst for internalizing and enhancing near term and strategic needs among them being…
    • employee engagement, retention, and performance.
    • distinguishing organizations’ (brand) attractivity and recruitment.

Based on many years of research and insights produced by Dr. Edgar Schein…OC’s consist of emerging and progressive stages of employees, at all levels, collectively recognizing…

  • a shared system of values, norms, beliefs, and attitudes that collectively define and clarify what is important.
  • one frequently learns as – when they are solving problems, and 
  • if the problem-solving methodologies work well enough,
  • employees and ‘the beneficiaries’ will consider them valid and worthy of being taught and passed along to new employees, because they…
    • represent the correct way to perceive, think, and feel
    • in relation to addressing (internal, external) problems that their company routinely faces,
    • which, in turn, leads to efficiencies, competitive advantages, and reputational value, etc. (Adapted by Michael D. Moberly from the work of Dr. Edgar Shein)

For most organizations, the initial step in developing a principled OC involves…

  1. determining what attitudes, beliefs, and history, warrant clarity and collective action.
  2. having a clear understanding how those particular attitudes and beliefs can translate (be executed and become operational) as near term – strategic ‘need relevant’ behaviors and actions on an organization-wide basis.

Too, as aptly pointed out by Dr. Kenan Jarboe…Athena Alliance monograph titled ‘Intangible Asset Monetization: The Promise and the Reality’…

  • there are six factors considered by financial markets (i.e., asset buyers, sellers, and investors) with respect to determining the ‘suitability’ of an (intangible) asset.
    • of those six factors, one is an assets’ transferability. In other words, is an OC transferrable?
    • or, is an OC so (company, business unit) specific that would make its replication and/or sustainability challenging should any base changes occur?

Unfortunately, the contributory role and value of an intangible asset intelligent OC…seldom, if ever, appears on management teams’ conventional mba-oriented dashboards…

  • in part, I believe, this is because most of those dashboards remain largely focused on tangible (physical) assets vs. intangible (non-physical) assets, i.e., culture, intellectual, relationship, and structural capital

Too, for some leadership teams a principled OC, remains somewhat of an administrative, fiscal, and competitive advantage mystery…in terms of understanding how best to utilize – exploit this increasingly influential collection of intangible assets.

A desired outcome of course, is that OC’s will be…resilient, self-perpetuating, principled, and scalable to consistently deliver measurable performance and desired returns.

Of course, building a principled – intangible asset intelligent OC is…not something which only emerges in a top-down framework. In other words, an OC is seldom a characteristic wholly owned and executed by a management team or c-suite…

  • instead, a well-grounded and principled OC provides permanence, depth, and confidence among employees regarding their abilities and capabilities.

Adapted by Michael D. Moberly from the fine work of Jennifer King

Michael D. Moberly July 31, 2017 [email protected], the ‘Business intangible Asset Blog’ since May 2006, 650+ published blog posts, read in 137+ countries, ‘where one’s attention span, businesses intangible assets, and solutions converge’!

Readers are invited to explore other published blog posts, video, position papers, and books at



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