Preface and Acknowledgments
`The problem of a painting is physical and metaphysical, the same as I think life is physical and metaphysical.`
On November 21, 1997, a schizophrenic with a kitchen knife slashed Barnett Newman's majestic work `Cathedra` in the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum. Although this event hardly shocked the world, it did shock me. I had come to love the ultramarine painting, because the vivid blue appealed to my analytical mind, and the physical largeness of the abstract expressionist's painting served as a metaphor for my—at that time, subconscious—ambition to tell my own story. Newman used color, composition, texture, and line to convey meaning, not a specific narrative, but a meaning that would be different for each onlooker. The meaning and the beauty of his painting are—like value—in the eye of the beholder. He saw the process of painting as physical and metaphysical, and the result as tangible and intangible: the tangible 8 x 18-foot painting and its intangible conveyance of ideas about the depth of feeling and thought. The schizophrenic not only destroyed a tangible painting, he also destroyed invaluable weightless wealth.
Exactly one year earlier, Professor Rene Tissen and I met for the first time. Less than two months later we formed KPMG's Knowledge Advisory Services Group. We have made it into a successful group of advisors who work in the area of knowledge management and intangible resource valuation, without disavowing our passion for innovation. I thank Rene for being my colleague at KPMG, but even more I thank him for suggesting that I pursue my Ph.D. At first I thought the idea was ridiculous. I could not imagine myself spending four years in a dark room sitting behind my computer working on just one subject. In the end, other people helped to change my mind, and that changed my life. Rene, thank you for keeping your faith in me and defending me. You have been loyal to me, even after I—through my work as a Ph.D. graduate—discovered I am much more an academic (a philosopher) than a consultant.
1 Source: http://188.8.131.52/exhibitions/exhibits/newman/
Who were the people who changed my mind? Two of them are not aware of it. Arie van der Zwan and Mira Stol-Trip both work for the Ministry of Economic Affairs in The Netherlands. In 1998 they invited KPMG to participate in a pilot project for the valuation of intangible resources. I thank them for their vision, because they provided me with the perfect subject and case material for Making Sense of Intellectual Capital.
My brother Bart does know he helped to change my mind. In May 1999 we spent our holidays together in Provence, France. One night we had a conversation about what makes me `tick.` During our dialog, I discovered my ambition to work in academia; moreover, I recognized my ambition to gain entry into the academic world: a Ph.D. Bart, thank you for this enlightening moment.
After my holidays I went to see Rene and told him of my plan. He was delighted and suggested we ask Prof. Mathieu Weggeman to serve as a second supervisor. Mathieu, thank you very much for your support, your knowledge, and your thorough (sometimes ruthless) comments. That is exactly what a Ph.D. student needs.
Six months earlier, I had had the privilege of acting as the aid for Derk Daan Reneman when he defended his Ph.D. thesis at the Free University, Amsterdam. Derk has been a long-time friend and a great supporter of my Ph.D. work. I thank him for his persistent friendship, advice, and encouragement, and I am honored that he was willing to act as my aid at my viva voce.
In 2000, Rene and I published the predecessor of this book, a book called Weightless Wealth. Weightless Wealth proposes a method for the identification, assessment, and valuation of intangible resources, which is an earlier version of the method that I describe in this book, Making Sense of Intellectual Capital. I thank Jonathan Ellis for his help in writing Weightless Wealth and reviewing Making Sense of Intellectual Capital. His writing skills and craftsmanship are unprecedented.
Not long after we published Weightless Wealth, I met Leif Edvinsson for the first time. At my first visit to the McMaster World Congress on the Management of Intellectual Capital, Leif and I met again, and he gave me the nickname that I still use with pride: 1С Challenger. Leif, thank you for your inspiration and for stimulating me to find my own destiny. Your book Corporate Longitude motivated me to create a job title that does not say what I do, but describes what I am good at. I am a sensemaker, and I help clarify, challenge, and create ideas.
I thank Prof. Nick Bontis and Prof. Christopher Bart who, together with their splendid team of students, organize each year the world's best conference on intellectual capital at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. Through your conferences I have found my community, my audience; and each visit convinces me all the more that I need to follow my academic ambition. Through you, I have met many friends from all over the world who I would like to thank for sharing with me a passion for the subject: Verna Allee, Ahmed Bounfour, Jay Chatzkel, James Falconer, Tua Haldin-Herrgard, Clive Holtham, Philippe Leliaert, Darius Mahdjoubi, Bernard Marr, Jose Maria Viedma Marti, Jan Mouritsen, Joe Peppard, Prof. Ante Pulic, Anna Rylander, and Herman Van den Berg, to name a few. I also would like to show appreciation for Goran Roos, at one time a dear colleague at KPMG, and one of the most inspiring and knowledgeable persons in the fields
A special thanks to my former team members who helped me to create the new method: Jan Blom, Inge van Gisbergen, and Martine Frijlink. I think we were an exceptional team. Each of you brought your unique personality and skills to bear. I also thank my KPMG colleagues Prof. Johan van Helleman, Prof. Willem Dercksen, and Mr. Guus Landheer, who guided us with their wisdom.
I also thank KPMG, a company in which almost everything is possible, that I served with honor for more than 12 years. The firm gave me the unique opportunity to set up a new unit in uncharted territory and to write a book (Tissen et al., 1998). In addition, it enabled me to work on my Ph.D. thesis in parallel with my regular work. A special thanks to the members of the Information Research Center, and especially to Jan Schepers. Without your help in tracing the literature, Making Sense of Intellectual Capital would not have been written. Thanks to Frank Lekanne Deprez, my direct colleague, who not only is a walking library, but most of the time happened to have the resources I needed in his possession. I also thank Karima Benaskar, who has been my faithful secretary for many years.
I am grateful for the cooperation of the companies that were willing to serve as guinea pigs for the new method. They did not know what they were getting into when they agreed to work with us, but they had faith that something useful would result (see Chapter 5).
In addition, I thank Karen Maloney of Butterworth-Heinemann. You were kind and brave enough to see through the academic nature of this book and recognize that it contains some very practical and powerful messages to improve the value of businesses.
During the past four years there have been times that I have neglected my duties as a father of two wonderful daughters. Fortunately, there were relatives and friends available who understood my situation and were willing to offer help. Most especially I would like to thank my wonderful mother, Ank Andriessen-Collignon; my in-laws, Hans and Toos Leenders; our neighbors Dione and Kees Bink; and my fantastic sister Liesbeth for taking care of the children when I was busy writing in the attic.
Lastly, I must thank the three most important people in my life. I express gratitude to my wife, Marian, and to my daughters, Carlijn and Mirthe, for their love, support, and understanding. You provided me with the perfect environment in which to write Making Sense of Intellectual Capital. I am sorry for the times I may have placed a heavy burden on you with my ambition. I am grateful and I love you.
Leiderdorp, The Netherlands