Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate intellectual capital (IC) measurement critically so that the dynamics of intangible value creation can be better understood and to provide insights into how IC is constructed rather than what IC is. Design/methodology/approach – This paper presents a case study on how a division of a large Australian financial institution utilised an approach based on complexity theory to investigate IC in practice. The method utilises narrative, numbers and visualisations to make sense of IC at a particular point in time. Findings – It is argued that trying to “fit” existing popular frameworks to gather IC measurements inside organisations has little relevance to understanding the value/creation process. As a result of the investigation of IC in this paper, it is found that, to date, IC measurement has relied heavily on “accountingisation” and that alternate methods to understand IC need to be developed. The paper highlights that academics and practitioners need to develop new skills. Research limitations/implications – The case study is limited to the use of an alternate method to investigate IC in a particular organisational and cultural setting. The research opens the possibility of the benefits of changing thinking about both research into, and the practice of, measuring IC. Practical implications – Rather than being constrained by the traditional models of measuring intangibles, by way of contemporary IC reporting frameworks, a more open process is outlined that could improve the timeliness and use value of the information. Originality/value – This paper has relevance to both IC academics and practitioners as it critically examines the contemporary IC frameworks and offers an alternate method for examining IC which has the potential to add to a discourse which focuses on additional understanding of IC.