Contrary to the beliefs of neoclassical economists, the value of a firm (or a territory or, more generally, an organization) cannot be assessed solely in traditional accounting terms which, at best, tell us about the past and not about their potential to create value. And this is all the more true when we start looking at an economy where the main factors of wealth are intangibles.
The problem, however, is that "intangibles" is an umbrella term covering all manner of things, and it can give rise to a wide range of interpretations, depending on whether it is taken to mean only skills and intellectual potential, or only items related to information, or ...; besides, it is usually understood as a stock, although increasingly it should be treated in terms of flows and interactions.
A study group was therefore established by Futuribles to determine, on the basis of specific cases, what the key components of "intangibles" are, to explore the indicators that might best capture them, and lastly to develop a tool to evaluate and assist the strategic guidance of organizations.
Véronique Lamblin and André-Yves Portnoff, who together led this working group, present here how we arrived at our conception of this intangible capital, what its main components are (collective intelligence, quality of relationships, organizational factors, capacity to activate, etc.), and what is involved in the method of evaluation that has been developed, called "Valeur Instantanée et Prospective" (VIP, Immediate and Prospective Value) of organizations.
This method has already been successfully tested on several firms; in the future it may perhaps enable firms to avoid strategic errors arising from reliance on traditional accounting systems that are now clearly inadequate.