QUESTION: I am constantly reading about intangible or human capital assets.

I am wondering if my company has any and, if so, how do I measure them?

Answer: Intangible assets are extremely hard to measure. Thatâs why they are called intangible.

Some of these assets could include goodwill, reputation, positioning of your company in the public eye, and so on ÷ all of which are difficult to put a price on.

Nowadays human capital or human assets mostly refer to one of three things:

1) Your potential to give service.

2) The intellectual assets of your company.

3) The creativity of your organization.

If you follow technology stocks you will know that Internet corporations are paying out huge amounts ÷ in many cases billions of dollars ÷ to, in effect, buy ideas.

Many companies listed on the stock exchange have risen dramatically in value on their potential alone.

In some cases they havenât even produced a single product.

My company, Creative Consulting, researched intellectual and capital assets within organizations. As a result of our findings, we designed a special programme called Resources Management to promote the use of internal resources for creative and intellectual assets.

It is one of our most sought after development programmes.

Creativity is about dealing in ideas. Great breakthroughs are rarely an accident. The electric light bulb resulted from years of experimenting by Thomas Edison.

Unfortunately, most people think of creativity and ideas as inventing something new. However, it is more often about organizing existing elements in a different order to create a smoother and more efficient work flow.

The Tutorâs conveyor belt fable:

Back in the 1970âs, I ran the kitchen at the airport for Bermuda Aviation Services. I remember one particular day when we made up over 3,000 meals. It was a massive challenge.

We spread empty plates over every empty surface in a 20,000-square-foot workspace. Chefs went around the kitchen with large containers doling food out onto plates. This caused disruption in many areas, such as:

c It was a painfully slow process because the chefs were forced to walk long distances with the food to the empty plates.

c Production of other areas virtually stopped in such areas as equipment and washing up because all the work surfaces were being used.

c We fell behind for the next dayâs production because all the chefs were simply too busy to focus on anything else.

c The staff became exhausted from constantly walking with a heavy load.

When I thought about these problems, I knew the staff could not continue doing this over the long haul.

So I came up with the idea of making the plates up using a conveyer belt. A shelf was put above the conveyor belt containing different trays of contents making up the meal.

I had the conveyor belt adjusted so that people could spoon or place one item each on the plate. What was the outcome of a relatively simple idea?

c The working area for setting up the plates was reduced from 8,000 square feet to 400 square feet.

c We set up the food on the plates in four hours instead of 10.

c We had only five staff on the belt ÷ plus one carrier ÷ instead of 16.

c The food was placed on the plates by kitchen helpers instead of very expensive chefs.

c The profitability of the company soared.

And thatâs all because of one simple, creative idea. Production went up. Profit went up.

Unfortunately, my wages did not go up.

The Tutorâs Tips

1) Never underestimate the intellectual and creative assets within your own organization.

2) Implement resource management at the earliest opportunity.

3) Encourage as many ideas as possible ÷ no matter how wacky.

4) If you need help to implement the process, call us at Creative Consulting.