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Paul receiving his PhD


My Cordes colleague Paul Kloosterboer received his PhD today at the Free University of Amsterdam: Congratulations! It has been his life work to combine consultancy with science as his promotor memorized. It was an impressive meeting with the ambiance, the defense of his thesis and the ‘ancient’ rituals.

The title of his thesis is: “Expedition towards Value.” He gives new insights around strategy development for professional organizations. The Triodos project that I led in 2008 is one of his key cases.

The defense of his thesis was pretty tough, but Paul can manage these situations. The professors had extensive questions for him that most of the audience, including me, hardly could follow. Some were a bit critical about the methodology and how to valorize the findings and others showed how little they work in the real world with real organizations that have real problems. One wanted to have a discussion about primary and secundary stakeholders (who cares if your organization is facing bankruptcy). It felt as if they see organizations as entities in itself. A discussion on the definition of the word ‘value’ followed. As if one can define objectively what value creation is without the stakeholder involved. Every organization is being founded to deliver a certain value. Over the years (e.g. when the founders have left and the shareholders took over) you see often that the perceived added value through the eyes of the stakeholders is not enough anymore. Many organizations are blind to this. Paul’s point is that you need to find together a new reference point if you’re doing your strategy project. So inquiry into the added value you’re delivering for your primary, secondary and tertiary stakeholders is key to become successful again. Open up and start to listen and connect to them.
One was more daring and asked what advice he could give to the board of the Free University and the University of Amsterdam. They are supposed to work closely together but the night before the rector stepped down from his position because of that. What would you advice these institutions? Paul was too nervous (?) to say: “Hire me, you are going to promote the specialist for these kind of problems!”

Paul had organized an expedition to the Restaurant through the Hortus Botanicus and there we could congratulate him. With everybody from Cordes we gave him a present: an expedition into the Tunesian Dessert. The last week of October he will walk with the camels (organized by Menno de Lange) just like the people in the coverpicture of his book.

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