Its usually pretty straightforward to figure out how “smart” someone is. For children, we might look at their standardized test scores and academic records. For our friends, we might consider how well they speak, the breadth of their interests and the depths of their insights. For our business associates, its simpler still: If they make a lot of money, presto—theyre smart.
In truth, a persons wallet isnt a bad proxy for his business smarts. And the same can be said for the collections of people that comprise companies. A companys total value is a reflection of its individual workers smarts. Wouldnt that be a good thing to measure?
For the second straight year, Baseline has undertaken that effort with the goal of identifying the smartest American companies. The 100 companies that appear in the list that starts on this page came out of an analysis we did of more than 4,200 organizations. The methodology is the brainchild of Paul A. Strassmann, who spent years as a technology executive (Xerox, General Foods, Kraft) and was the Pentagons first chief information officer. His formula (which is spelled out here) provides a way of figuring out the average value that has been created by a companys workers—everyone from the chief executive through middle managers to the lowest-paid staffers. Baselines underlying assumption is that the smartest companies must necessarily be skilled at managing information.
To even be considered, a company had to meet a few criteria. It had to be publicly traded, so we could see the market value that investors were placing on it. It had to have been public for at least three years, so we could take averages and avoid giving too much credit to a new company that might be the temporary object of Wall Streets ardor.