Making Intangibles Tangible2017-04-10T17:13:16+00:00

Making “Intangibles” Tangible & Actionable

Iceberg-LegalIn the world of sports, coaches often talk about a player’s intangibles – characteristics such as leadership, competitiveness or work ethic.  It is these intangibles that often make up the difference between a marginal and average player or between a good and great player.   Unlike a football player’s 40-yd dash time or a baseball pitcher’s radar gun pitch speed, intangibles have traditionally been difficult to define and measure and only become known well into the working relationship. The Right Profile changes this for sports and business alike.

For sports teams, professional services firms and corporations, we not only scientifically define the relevant intangibles, but we also help you measure and evaluate them.  This allows you to identify personnel upfront with the intangibles that work best for your industry & organization — then, once hired, we provide customized guidance on how to mentor and develop them to their fullest potential.


Finding diamonds in the rough: Intangibles help identify potential

Tom Brady has many “intangible” qualities that elevate him to the top of his profession

The story is well documented that in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots were on the clock with the 199th pick. The Patriots did not necessarily need a quarterback but Tom Brady, a quarterback from the University of Michigan, was still available and was slotted high on the Patriots draft chart.  Although Brady had a solid college career at Michigan serving two years as a starter and winning 20 of 25 games played including two bowl games, his physical attributes were underwhelming and he did not receive much attention from pro scouts. Mel Kiper Jr., NFL draft analyst extraordinaire, recently recalled that Tom Brady’s performance at that year’s NFL combine was the “worst he’s seen from a quarterback.

“Brady succeeds mostly because of his work ethic, his intelligence and his instinct. He is perfectly wired to be an NFL quarterback.”

Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune

However, the New England Patriots had the whole picture on Tom Brady.  The Patriots were an early adopter of The Right Profile’s Troutwine Athletic Profile (TAP) assessment and had the TAP report showing that Tom’s intangibles were off the charts.  The Patriots saw things in Tom that the other teams did not. They drafted Tom with the 199th pick and the rest is NFL history.  Tom took over as the team’s starter in 2001 and has led them to an NFL record 11 division titles and 5 Super Bowls, winning 3.  Tom was named Super Bowl MVP twice and league MVP twice. This “diamond in the rough” selection will likely go down as the best draft pick in NFL history.  

Lesson: Including intangibles in your hiring candidate evaluation will help you identify those with high potential that might not otherwise stand out.


Difficult choices: Intangibles provide the whole picture

Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf photo

14 of 20 NFL executives polled preferred Ryan Leaf to Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft

In the 1998 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts held the first overall pick and needed a quarterback. Fortunately for them, the consensus thinking was that there were two “franchise quarterbacks available that year with Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning — the Colts had their pick of either one.  Although the tangibles of both players were similar, the consensus of NFL executives of the time favored Ryan Leaf.

Manning may have the more recognizable name, but Leaf clearly is the preferred quarterback among league executives. Fourteen of the 20 polled said they would draft Leaf over Manning, citing the Washington State quarterback’s stronger arm, better mobility and more promising long-term prospect as a franchise-caliber player.

Bob Glauber, Newsday, March 29, 1998

The Colts, however, had a different perspective altogether.  As another early customer of the TAP assessment, they had the whole evaluative picture on each of the quarterbacks.  The Colts knew that in the area of Intangibles: mental stability, maturity, leadership, etc., the two players were not even close. Peyton Manning’s Intangibles were vastly superior and the Colts opted to draft Manning.  Anyone that pays attention to even popular culture knows that Indianapolis made the right choice: Peyton Manning led the Colts to 2 Super Bowls, winning one (played in another with Denver last year), 13 Pro Bowls and a record 5 NFL MVPs.  Ryan Leaf, on the other hand, lasted only a few seasons as his career was cut short by poor play, bad behavior and injuries. Amazingly the 1998 draft turned out to be the choice of two extremes: Peyton Manning may go down as the best player in NFL history and Ryan Leaf is repeatedly named the #1 bust in draft history.

Lesson: Make sure you have the whole picture on candidates when making important hiring decisons.

Applying Lessons from the NFL Draft to Hiring


Dr. Robert Troutwine, developer of the TAP assessment, was the psychologist for the Colts during the selection process

When hiring, most organizations place a high value on tangibles such as the resume and interview skills that are not necessarily correlated to success.

“The truth of the matter is that [interviews] are a high cost, damaging and ineffective selection device. This is true even when they are in the hands of someone who has been trained to ask the right questions….Years of research on job interviews has shown that they are poor predictors of who will be a good employee.

Edward Lawler III, “Job Interviews: Users Beware” Forbes, March 11, 2013

So, take a lesson from the NFL draft:  to make the best hiring decisions, evaluate the whole picture — especially the critical intangibles that the rest of the market might miss.

Lesson:  Evaluating a hiring candidate’s Intangibles will help you identify potential and make better hiring decisions