Measure Less, Succeed More: A Zen Approach to Organizational Effectiveness

Philosophy of Management, Vol. 6, 2006

18 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2005

See all articles by Michael L. Barnett

Michael L. Barnett

Rutgers Business School, Newark & New Brunswick

Gloria Cahill

New York University

Abstract

Over the last decade, managers have placed increasing emphasis on the creation of tangible measures of intangible organizational properties. Many major corporations now include measures for intellectual capital, knowledge capital, reputational capital, and other such intangible assets on their financial ledgers. Counter to the rubric that "If it doesn't get measured, it doesn't get done", we argue that some intangibles are truly intangible, and attempts to force fit such measures on them creates undue organizational stress and harms the underlying asset. Instead, managers may better foster the growth of intangible assets by placing less emphasis on outcome measurement and more emphasis on the process. Using New York University's Office of Community Service as a case study, we illustrate how a Zen approach can augment tangible measures to create a truly "balanced" organizational strategy. American firms have widely adopted the strict measurement practices of Japanese firms, but have largely not adopted the Eastern practice of Zen. A Zen approach fosters trust and provides flexibility that allows organizations to better achieve success in the long run.

Keywords: measurement, balance, intangibles, effectiveness, Zen

JEL Classification: M12, M14, M40, M54

Suggested Citation

Barnett, Michael L. and Cahill, Gloria, Measure Less, Succeed More: A Zen Approach to Organizational Effectiveness. Philosophy of Management, Vol. 6, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=859707

Michael L. Barnett (Contact Author)

Rutgers Business School, Newark & New Brunswick ( email )

NJ
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.business.rutgers.edu

Gloria Cahill

New York University ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

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