Measure Less, Succeed More: A Zen Approach to Organisational Balance and Effectiveness

Michael L. Barnett, Gloria Cahill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Over the last decade, managers have increasingly emphasised the creation of tangible measures of intangible organisational 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 apply tangible measures to them creates undue organisational 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’ organisational strategy. American firms have widely adopted the strict measurement practices of Japanese firms, but few have adopted the Eastern practice of Zen. A Zen approach fosters trust and provides flexibility that allows organisations to better achieve success in the long run.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-162
Number of pages16
JournalPhilosophy of Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Balance Scorecard
  • Intangible Asset
  • Intellectual Capital
  • Management Volume
  • Staff Meeting


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