Intellectual capital „at work” – touching the „untangible”
Touching the „untangible” is quite a challenge. You can do it on condition you make the “untangible” work. How is that possible? I did see it. And I did feel it. There is this small town – Brodnica, some 200 km north-west of Warsaw, Poland. I spent there virtually every weekend from May to November last year, as we bought a summer house by the lake very close to Brodnica over a year ago. Weekends mean – time to take care of myself and my stuff, so I visit a hair-dresser pretty often. One of the million topics we talk about is shoemaker services. They seem to be less than half of the Warsaw prices there. My next time in Brodnica was with a huge bag full of shoes, of course. All the most important and interesting places in Brodnica are close to the square market which is actually a triangle-shape market – really nice. The shoemaker is there as well. But … closed on Saturdays. Hmmm, I didn’t want to give up that quickly and decided to ask for another shoemaker in the next-door shop. It turned out that another one was somewhere in the middle of nowhere, not possible for me to find him. Just hopeless – such a big bag of shoes brought 200 km for nothing! My face must have said what I thought. Suddenly, a lady in the shop having learnt that I came to town on weekends only, made an unexpected offer: “I will take the shoes and get them to the shoemaker for you.” I was not prepared for that – astonished and embarrassed as it would never come across my mind to offer such thing to a stranger. The lady insisted talking about it as if it was the most obvious and natural thing to do. So I left the shoes and 50 zlotys with the lady and was wondering if I would ever see my shoes again.
Few days later I called the lady and heard everything was OK and the shoes and some money back (!!!!) would wait for me on Saturday at her shop. I went into the shop with a big box of chocolates but had a feeling that was nothing comparing to what I got. I couldn’t stop giving a hug to the lady. She was smiled, joyful and simply pleased. I was touched and truly happy to be a part of this story. Do you know what the story is about? It is about a relational capital; the capital that each of us possesses. The capital that embraces our attitude to other people, busineswise – customers, stakeholders, employees, suppliers etc and their attitude to us. The capital that brings other people’s human capital to generate added value for us. The capital that makes our human capital work more efficiently. The relational capital builds up our intellectual capital and gives us the opportunity to touch the “untangible”. That could be the end of the story. But it does not stop here. After leaving the big bag of shoes in the car, we (my husband and I) went to get some baked chickens for the Sunday dinner. They are absolutely delicious over there – full of wonderful herbal stuffing, just the taste one remembers from the mother’s kitchen. You can get them in a bar at the triangle market, of course. On our way back to the car I saw a jacket on a window display that I wanted to try on. We jumped into the shop and had much fun “digging” in clothes, trying them on and making a little fashion show. The shop assistants were the shop owners and had as much fun. We were excited by the sales prices but had to cool our appetites with the news the shop did not accept credit cards. Whoops, Brodnica has not yet adopted those payment standards. My husband went out to look for the cash machine and I started to count every banknote and coin I had. I lacked over 30 zlotys. The owner decided “That will do”. That was another surprise – extra discount on the sales prices. I left with four bags full of clothes for adults and kids. As we arrived home, our daughters made another fashion show trying on all the stuff bought. After a while I started to look around for chickens. They were … not with us … left in the shop … Well, everything already closed, no way to wish the shop owners “Bon appetite”. It is a pity. Next day, on our way to Warsaw, we stopped by the mentioned bar at the triangle market to get some more chickens. When I was just about to say what I wanted, a new surprise occurred: I was asked an unexpected question: “Did you buy chickens yesterday?”. “Yes … I did … but … I left them … in the shop” – I tried to keep my face a bit less blunt than it supposingly was. “I’ve got them !” – the lady shot me. She told me how the shop owners had found the chickens, got to the car and had been driving around the town hoping to find me on the street. When they failed, they came to the bar to leave the chickens. I was speechless. A while later I was back in the car with “my” chickens and tears in my eyes. I could feel again that I touched the “untangible”. The power of relations is practically impossible to be overestimated. The relations you’ve got and cherish decide on what you know and when you know it. The relations you’ve got make you a more efficient knowledge worker. The relations you’ve got decide on the quality of your life and work. The relations you’ve got allow you to touch the “untangible”. Just make them work.