We talk a lot about intangibles and smarter companies. Most people get what we are talking about.

But why these particular changes? Why now? Sometimes I’m forced to explain it all more succinctly. As I’ve prepared for the webinar on Superstar SME's I’m doing with IPR Plaza on Thursday, I’ve been challenged to develop some background pieces that help explain how we got here, why there’s no going back and what it takes to succeed in today’s business environment.

This table explains the fundamental shift that is occurring in management:







Feeding people

Making things

Solving problems


Hand tools



Core assets

Land, tools

Tangibles: Factories, Buildings, Equipment

Intangibles: People, Purpose, Partners, Process

Management focus


Optimize production


Economies of scale

Optimize processes



Basis of competition


Cost, Quality

Cost, Design, Experience, Context

Power dynamic




Source of reputation

Personal connection

Marketing and Branding

Trust and Experience

The shift to the digital economy changes the focus of management and organizations. These are some of the changes that we’ll discuss on Thursday. The question that I am going to try to answer is what makes a company today a superstar? The short answer is one that plays by the rules of today's digital economy.

In the past, the industrial approach to management came to dominate virtually all segments of our economy from agriculture to business to education to healthcare to politics. The top-down, mass production, economies of scale perspective pervaded our thinking (and still does to a great extent).

Today, the digital approach to management is emerging. Eventually, it will change all segments of our economy including these same sectors and more: agriculture to business to education to healthcare to politics. We see the changes beginning. They create huge opportunities for smarter companies and organizations.

Join the wave. Be the change. You might as well because there's no going back.

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