I’d really appreciate your thoughts on the term I’ve coined golden capital—the personal reserves of human, social and intellectual capital (Davis, 2008) we each hold within us. Indeed the term can be expanded to include any other instance of capital that proves to be of value in a knowledge-intensive era, i.e. emotional capital, creative capital, spiritual capital? Does this concept resonate with you?
Kets de Vries (2003) defines the embedded and intangible qualities that people bring to their work as inner theater, and this term encompasses much of what can also be described as human, social and intellectual capital or, for short, Golden Capital. The word capital is used in this term as a marker of paradigm shifts (Kuhn, 1970) and in acknowledgement that paradigmatic shifts have been denoted in the past by a change in what was the significant means of economic production—therefore capital—of its time.
This can be seen in the shift from an agrarian economy where agriculture was the economic driver of its era to the industrial economy where machines wrought change and provided the economic drive for that particular era. Therefore, for comparative analysis of significant shifts through time, the word capital is an appropriate anchor to track thinking about discontinuous change as well as the economic drivers, as Hames (2007) explains:
The Iron Age did not end because humans ran out of iron. It ended because it was time for a rethink about how we live (Hames, 2007 p 282).
When adding terms such as Golden Capital and Living Asset Stewardship (Bragdon, 2006) to the ‘working with’ and ‘worldly leadership’ (Turnbull and Edwards, 2008) lexicon we are also adding to the language of change. By looking below the surface to what is valued, privileged and therefore measured–(or not!); why this is so, and the underlying worldviews that underpin this thinking, we are building a language that may well bridge the divide between competing worldviews, such as Economic Rationalist and Triple Bottom Line understandings.
The consequences of this development open up a space to think anew about the relationship between economics, sustainability and intangible assets. Martin (2007) makes a salient point as we begin to think deeply about the unevenly distributed future we are currently navigating, “for me, design is centrally about creating options or possibilities that do not currently exist, not choosing between or among options that currently do” (Martin, 2007).
One way of thinking about creating new possibilities is to take more responsibility for our own actions and what drives them and think about the underlying values and assumptions that underpin our behaviours, set our agendas and determine what is valuable enough to be counted. Indeed, as Nanschild and I (2007) noted in an earlier paper, our values and indeed our own Golden Capital is central to this wider debate:
When we reflect on a systems approach to human relations we can see that our subliminal value sets are at the very epicentre of human endeavour. Our values—and what we value—as individuals and groups, have the capacity to impact positively or negatively on our leadership, learning and day to day living. The art of productive living, learning and leadership is in fact intertwined and our values, espoused or otherwise, are deeply embedded in this trinity (Nanschild & Davis, 2007 p 137).
Bragdon, J. H. 2006. Profit for Life, How Capitalism Excels: Case Studies in Living Asset Management., Cambridge, MA, Society for Organization Learning Inc.
Davis, H. (2008). Golden capital, Living Asset Stewardship and kindred intangible assets: Can we measure up? International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, 8(1), pp. 137 – 146.
Hames, R. D. (2007). The five literacies of global leadership: what authentic leaders know and you need to find out. Chichester, England: Jossey-Bass.
Kuhn, T. S. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. (2nd ed.) Chicago, Ill., University of Chicago Press.
Martin, R. L. 2007. How Does Creativity Play a Role In “Design Strategy”?, Institute of Design Strategy Conference, Chicago, Institute of Design Strategy.
Nanschild, D. & Davis, H. 2007. The ‘V’ Factor: Thinking About Values as the Epicentre of Leadership, Learning and Life, 13th International Conference on Thinking. Norrkoping, Sweden.
Turnbull, S. & Edwards, G. 2008. Traditional, Worldly or Global Leadership – Ancient Wisdoms and Alternative Perspectives, The locales of leadership: foregrounding context: 7th International Conference on Studying Leadership, New Zealand, University of Auckland.