I wrote about the difficulty of valuing intangibles like innovation, excellence, commitment in a previous post Money versus other measures of value; and personal give-a-damn-ness. This post builds on that as well as extending a conversation I had with conversation with Bob Jacobson in Malmö in 2010.
Tangibles are easy to value and sell. Intangibles are easy to share and steal.
A modern day example of this clear demarcation is in how most people will be ok with spending money on the tangibles of laptops and blue ray players, and yet at the same time be less willing to spend on software and movies.
The intangibility of value of experience, ideas, insight, foresight… immensely valuable. And arguable not at all valuable until acted upon. And thus unvalued.
How do you value a pregnancy before the full potential of the child is realised? When will we know it has been realised or otherwise?
So we are more comfortable paying for the end results, especially if they are tangible. We are comfortable paying for the services that lead directly to sales – like sales!
But we are less ok with paying for the intangible stuff that leads us up to that point. Even thought we accept that without the intangible stuff we could not have gotten to the tangible ones.
Once stark exception is how we value money. Money is essentially itself an intangible concept. It is a construct, a promise, represented by sheets of colourful polymer (or paper).