Stewart, Thomas A(lan) 1948-
STEWART, Thomas A(lan) 1948-
PERSONAL: Born March 30, 1948, in Chicago, IL; son of Charles Leslie and Edalee Esther (Gastrock) Stewart; married Amanda H. B. Vail, November 22, 1969; children: Pamela, Patrick. Education: Harvard University, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1970.
CAREER: Grossman Publishers, New York, NY, editor, 1970-73; Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, NY, editor, 1973-76; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, NY, senior editor, 1976-79; Atheneum, New York, NY, vice president and editor-in-chief, 1979-83, senior vice president and director, 1983-85, president and publisher, 1985-89; Fortune (magazine), New York, NY, editor, columnist, 1989—.
MEMBER: World Economic Forum (fellow), Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Named to "Blue-Chip News-room," Journal of Financial Reporting, 1993; International Knowledge Management Awareness Award, 1996; named among world's fifty most influential business gurus by FT Dynamo (online forum of Financial Times).
Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations, Currency (New York, NY), 1997.
The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first-Century Organization, Currency (New York, NY), 2001.
Writer of columns "The Leading Edge" in Fortune and "Barely Managing" for Business 2.0 online.
SIDELIGHTS: Thomas A. Stewart is a writer whose career began at Grossman Publishing, where he edited books by Ralph Nader, among others. He changed houses and worked with many notable authors before writing Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations, the subject of which he also addressed in his column "The Leading Edge" in Fortune magazine. Other subjects Stewart has covered are stock options, the management of churches, and the failings of human resources departments. He has also addressed changes in the electronic marketplace and written features about gay and lesbian executives, business process reengineering, the state of American competitiveness, the changing nature of executive power, the Gulf War, and corporations such as General Electric.
Where companies were once valued based in part on their physical assets, such as real estate and equipment, the trend has shifted toward evaluating companies based on their patents, brand names, employee culture, and business relationships. In Intellectual Capital Stewart emphasizes that a company's most important assets are often intangibles, such as customer information, past experience, and worker knowledge. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that Stewart "is a pro at explaining how managers can determine which workers have knowledge worth keeping and which can be easily replaced." Stewart includes examples from companies that include Hewlett-Packard, Merck, and General Electric, making it "very usable and practical," commented Library Journal's Littleton M. Maxwell. Brian Hackett wrote in Across the Board that Intellectual Capital is "not a cookbook, but it is a practical book. As a businessman-turned-journalist, Stewart has met the Who's Who of intellectual capitalists, from CEOs to chief knowledge officers, consultants to academics, and he knows how to tell their stories."
Stewart feels that of the three kinds of intellectual capital—human, structural, and customer—customer capital is most important yet is paid the least attention. In an interview on the Unisys Corporation Web site he said, "It is amazing to me how often, in this day and age, people still think of their customers as something to be exploited, as simply a source of transactional income, and how little real work they do to analyze the value of their customer relationships. For example, customer loyalty work—determining how long customers stay with you, the cost of acquiring a new customer versus the cost of keeping old customers, the value of customers over their expected lifetime with you, and so on—is not very complicated work to do. But it's remarkable how few companies actually go out and do it." Stewart pointed out that most companies will spend money in advertising campaigns to attract new customers but seldom spend even a fraction of these amounts building customer loyalty.
In The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first-Century Organization Stewart expands on his argument and shows how companies are putting his theories to work. He includes a four-step guide to using intellectual capital to improve performance and profitability and manage knowledge. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that "each chapter is packed with provocative, insightful material. The book's weakness is its dearth of theory and impatience with alternative views."
Stewart notes that the best example of a supplier of intellectual capital would be a software designer whose product is efficiently distributed and whose inventory is close to zero. Booklist's David Siegfried cited the cement distributor who uses a computerized routing system to provide faster service than his competitors and a fisherman's bill collector who lists restaurateurs who haven't paid their bill on a Web site as "some of the more creative examples." Siegfried concluded that readers interested in business "will find this book quite useful, even inspiring." Maxwell felt that "this book should be read and reread by people in business."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Across the Board, June, 1997, Brian Hackett, review of Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations, pp. 59-61.
Booklist, November 15, 2001, David Siegfried, review of The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first-Century Organization, p. 522.
Director, June, 1997, David Harvey, review of Intellectual Capital, p. 83.
Leadership and Organization Development Journal, November, 1999, Sandi Mann, review of Intellectual Capital, p. 340.
Library Journal, April 15, 1997, Littleton M. Maxwell, review of Intellectual Capital, p. 94; February 1, 2002, Littleton M. Maxwell, review of The Wealth of Knowledge, p. 112.
Publishers Weekly, February 10, 1997, review of Intellectual Capital, p. 73; November 19, 2001, review of The Wealth of Knowledge, p. 58.
Unisys Corporation Web site,http://www.unisys.com/ (May, 1997), "Customer Relationships Lead to Competitive Advantage" (interview).*