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Oral History Interview with David DeVries, November 23 and December 2, 1998. Interview S-0010. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    David DeVries earned a Ph.D. in psychology, motivated by a childhood in an immigrant family that positioned him as an outsider. He soon applied his expertise at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), an institution dedicated to leadership education and research. DeVries spent fifteen years at the Center, eventually rising to the position of executive vice president. In this interview, he gives an organizational history of CCL, tracing it from its beginnings as a loosely organized think tank to its arrival as an influential player in private sector leadership. The story of CCL seems to be one of competing impulses: researchers' creativity clashed with the need for streamlined business practices, the conservatism of CCL's funders sometimes stood in contrast with CCL's style, and even the success of certain ideas might stifle the drive to find new ones. But as creative and unrestrained as industrial psychologists like David Campbell were, the organization's leaders, including William C. Friday, who served as honorary chairman from 1976 to 1996, were able to corral that creativity and build a successful organization. This interview offers a portrait of a unique organization and the ways in which business leaders resolve the tensions between creativity, profitability, and personality.
    Excerpts
  • Childhood influences career interests
  • Arriving in the South
  • Joining an organization in flux
  • Concerns that the CCL's output is declining in quality
  • Struggling with issues of length of tenure and intellectual property
  • Concern about a contracting vision at CCL
  • CCL faces the need to systematize
  • Tensions between creative thinkers and a strict boss
  • Conservative influence of donor foundation
  • Creatives and conservatives seek common ground
  • Hoping for changes in CCL's approach in the future
  • The importance of self-criticism
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.