Managerial Introspection An Intangible Asset Positive!

Michael D. Moberly    December 18, 2013     A blog where attention span matters!

Introspection is an intangible asset positive!  That is, a leader or management team member’s ability…no, make that, desire and recognition of the necessity to be introspective, is a valuable attribute or, in the context of this post, a positive, strategic, and personalized intangible asset!

Introspection is characterized by James Drogan, business professor at SUNY’s Maritime College as…

“knowing what you know, knowing what you don’t know, and knowing who knows what you don’t know and  knowing, when things are going really well, you’ve probably missed something”…

To many readers, the above characterization attributed to Professor Drogan may sound eerily reminiscent of former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s response to a question posed to him in a Pentagon briefing regarding fighting in the Iraq and Afghanistan war.

It’s important to me personally and professionally that the context for both are distinguished, as history does not portray Mr. Rumsfeld as being introspective by nature, but perhaps he was and just hid it well when he was in the presence of media.

Martin Christopher, Emeritus Professor of Marketing & Logistics at Cranfield School of Business and author of Logistics and Supply Chain Management states that ‘introspection is valuable, important, and perhaps even critical to successful business operations’, a characterization which I am wholly in agreement.

During my 20+ years in academia, I routinely observed students quickly review my assignments, particularly essay questions, submit a rushed response, and then leave it to me to interpret what they wrote and what they meant.  This is not the kind of skill set and considered thought process I desired students to achieve and which I strongly believed is necessary to succeed in today’s global business (transaction) environment that grows increasingly competitive, aggressive, and predatorial.  In other words, even answering undergraduate and graduate level essay questions, there is a need for introspection.

Introspection is not self-doubt, nor is it personal insecurity.  Rather, introspection, as a business leader or management team member, is a desire to assure yourself, that you have done all that you can do to fulfill the various obligations which have been placed on you and presumably, those which you have willingly accepted.  That is, introspection involves the self-confidence to be intellectually receptive to…

“knowing what you know, knowing what you don’t know, and knowing who knows what you don’t know and  knowing, when things are going really well you’ve probably missed something”

More specifically, as Donald Clark puts it in ‘after action review’, introspection is about learning, i.e., what worked, what didn’t work, why it didn’t work,  what I need to do about it to make it better, and what will I do differently the next time’?  To achieve this, of course, requires personal and professional confidence, not arrogance.  I would be very hard pressed to cite one example of a leader – manager who exhibits characteristics of arrogance who would ask such questions.

Introspection is about making yourself more valuable, i.e., an intangible asset positive!

The consequences of lack of introspection in college can be significant, at least at the time, i.e., failure of a course.  My experiences in academia, suggest that unfortunately, in few instances do students perceive introspection to be an important skill that is necessary to personal and intellectual growth and a skill that will serve them well post-college.

But still, its importance needs to be demonstrated.  As ‘Monday morning quarterbacks’ most of us, in the case of business, can see, or, at least surmise the adverse consequences of leaders and managers who lack of introspection.  The consequences can be severe, leading to the failure of a new business initiative, transaction, or an entire company.

Obviously, a better environment for business executives, decision makers, and managers to learn the art and benefits of introspection are in circumstances where the consequences for not being introspective or the continuation of arrogance, are less severe.  That is through training and/or seminars, and of course, an excellent subject to kick start such an initiative is intangible assets.

People, be they under-graduate or graduate students, or busy business executives will develop and/or gravitate to the skills that either…

  • interest them,
  • or that they see as necessary to achieve success.

For example, the Brookings Institute, and numerous other economics expertise entities globally, state, matter-of-factly, that 80+% of  most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, profitability, and sustainability today either lie in or evolve directly from intangible assets.

The above economic fact – business reality should surely prompt business leaders and management teams to not leave to or wait for its interpretation by competitors, but instead, ask, introspectively, ‘what should I and my company be doing about it today’?

Thanks to my good friend and colleague Dale Furtwengler for suggesting the appropriateness of this topic.

This blog post has been researched and written by me with the genuine intent it serve as a useful and respectful medium to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.   My blog posts focus on a wide range of issues related to intangible assets and intellectual property.   Respectfully, each post is not intended to be quick bites of  unsubstantiated commentary or information piggy-backed to other sources.

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected.  Should any reader elect to utilize all or a portion of my posts, attribution is expected. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or [email protected].




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