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The Hybrid Vigor Institute is dedicated to rigorous critical thinking and the establishment of better methods for understanding and solving society’s most difficult problems. Our particular emphasis is on cross-sector and collaborative approaches; we seek out experts and stakeholders from a range of fields for their perspectives or to work together toward common goals.
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Intervention by Denise Caruso Read Intervention by Denise Caruso, Executive Director of the Hybrid Vigor Silver Award Winner, 2007 Independent Publisher Book Awards; Best Business Books 2007, Strategy+Business Magazine


by Mary Adams ~ March 21, 2008.
Permalink | Filed under: Collaboration and Sensemaking, Hybrid Vigor, Valuing Intangibles.

I resolved to start blogging about intangibles when I read a recent article in Fortune about soybeans called, “How Brazil Outfarmed the American Farmer.” The article explained how the Brazilians have used cutting-edge technology and well-designed market networks to become a dominant player in the soybean market. I saw this as just the latest proof that, as Thomas Friedman put it, “The World Is Flat.”

I believe that we have a lot of work to do to learn how to manage the intangibles that determine the winners and the losers in this “flat” world. And the American farmers are just the latest in the long line of businesspeople on the losing end of the intangibles game.

Fortunately, around the same time, I met Denise Caruso, who runs the Hybrid Vigor Institute and edits this blog. We became acquainted after she wrote a wonderful piece in the New York Times, “When Balance Sheets Collide With the New Economy” which highlighted the inadequacy of financial reporting to deal with the knowledge economy.

Denise explained how knowledge intangibles are invisible in financial and managerial reporting. They are also often passed over in decision making—in the assumption that “soft” issues cannot stand up to the rigor of traditional analysis.

But it is the soft issues that count. They help farmers in Brazil beat out their American competitors. They are at the heart of successful innovation. They create the competitive advantage of companies as diverse as Toyota and Google. We all need to get better at “seeing” and managing the soft, intangible side of our organizations.

So I was thrilled when Denise invited me to join in the budding, cross-disciplinary discussion at Hybrid Vigor. The challenges that we face in the “flat” world require new kinds of solutions—solutions that often lie beyond the ken of traditional economics, accounting and management. The topic of intangibles is no exception. I know that it will benefit from a broad diversity of perspectives. I look forward to joining in and bringing an “intangible” point of view to the conversation.

[Editor's note: We are thrilled to have Mary on board here at hybridvigor.net. I was tremendously impressed by her in our conversations, and I believe the work she is doing on intangibles and intellectual capital is critically important to the future success of the global economy. I also loved her description of herself on the website of her consultancy, Trek Consulting: 'Mary is a good listener, a studious thinker and an honest critic.' Who could ask for more? You can read her full bio here. D.C.]


  1. The Hybrid Vigor Institute | hybridvigor.net

    [...] In my very first posting on this blog, I talked about how “the American farmers are just the latest in the long line of businesspeople on the losing end of the intangibles game.” I can’t help but think that the same applies to GE. [...]

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