With the Olympics in full swing and Canada looking well on the way to surpassing the previous record medal total set in Vancouver, it is hard to be a pessimist as an avid sports fan. We measure our country’s success at the Games in terms of Gold, Silver and Bronze. These KPIs that are very easy to set and measure.  We are sticking with our work of the week, but instead of focussing on the concept of measurement or easily measured quantities, we are going to talk about the importance of measurement as it relates to intangibles and why this is important.

Why Measurement Matters
My favorite idiom “you cannot manage what you cannot measure” is one that I think about daily.  In my life this has informed everything from weight loss to becoming a better sailor and from saving towards retirement to running more impactful businesses. If I am not able to set quantifiable measures for success, I am unable to actively manage something and unable to determine how well I am performing towards a goal or how that measures up against others.

But Some Things Cannot Be Measured
With sailing as an example, measurement is facilitated. I am fortunate to sail with and against some of the best sailors in the country. In the early days, I could not get on a competitive team without becoming a better sailor than I previously was. As time went on, it became about placing well in competitive fleets and then setting the expectation of being able to win or place on the podium. Success was easy to measure as the wins started becoming more and more frequent.

It is my position that even the most intangible emotions can be measured as well. An emotion such as trust can be measured. Disagree, great. You have an opinion.  Being opinionated can be measured. How many times in this article or in any of my writings have you disagreed with me. If I have been fortunate enough to have you read multiple pieces from me, as a percentage, how often do you disagree with me. If you now bench mark that against other writers you can then determine if you disagree with me more often than the average of other writers. This is good.

Measuring The Intangible
I find myself just having come back to the office after sharing a wonderful lunch with one of our clients. This is an individual who I see as a great professional partner and have a growing friendship with as well. While we do not always agree, there is a level of respect and trust that has been earned and which allows us to have those tough conversations and call each other out on perceived missed opportunities or on failures. This level of trust can be measured. I would say that this partner and I are able to have these conversations because of the following areas of performance:

  1. We have demonstrated that we are equally going to put what is best for the partnership ahead of what is best for the individual partners
  2. A willingness to pivot and try alternative strategies
  3. Recognizing and taking ownership for gaps

So How Is This Measured
It is actually easier than you think to measure an intangible like the example of trust. How? Make it tangible. I know what you are thinking… Intangibles are called “intangibles” for a reason. While that is correct, you can quantify them. With this particular partner, I measure our trust based on how many times we find ourselves having those genuine, all cards on the table conversations and can either come to a shared agreement or leave agreeing to disagree.

The Final Bell:
Measurement is about so much more than KPI’s or any set number of metrics you may use to measure performance. These are a start but there are many lessons and opportunities to be found in the ability to quantify the intangible. Being able to measure the intangibles such as trust provides you will the ability to start looking at behaviour in a different way, be it consumers or potential business partners. As I quoted earlier “you cannot manage what you can not measure”. It will be those who are able to quantify, then manage the intangibles who will have a deeper understanding of the problems they face and will in turn be able to come up with differentiated, value added solutions.



Group President and CEO

Described as a growth agent, James is a modern day game changer known for delivering 10x performance across business, marketing and sales KPIs. As a sought after strategist, James believes and has demonstrated time and again that it is not about growing successful businesses anymore; true success is attained when you challenge and impact an industry as a whole.