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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Stan Gryskiewicz, November 5, 1998. Interview S-0016. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Early work in behavioral assessment with the Center for Creative Leadership

Gryskiewicz discusses his duties at the Center for Creative Leadership, following his employment there in 1970. Specifically, Gryskiewicz describes his work in behavioral assessment. He describes in detail the kinds of role playing workshops he helped to develop with Douglas Holmes and other programs, such as dream interpretation. Additionally, he describes the Center's initial participants, explaining that most were either Richardson Fellows or members of the military.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Stan Gryskiewicz, November 5, 1998. Interview S-0016. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Let me ask you first what were your duties when you started? What did you do?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Yeah. I came in and my job was to with my assessment experience, develop a behavioral assessment experience. So as a precursor, we had this one day assessment in the LDP now. We had a week-long assessment. And we built it on Ray Bradbury. We built it on science fiction and the reason, the rationale behind that was is you wanted to have a simulation that had the basic structure of managing people, managing numbers, managing technology, but in the setting that people would not be familiar with so that their underlying skills would be seen, but no one else would have an advantage over another person because they had run a metal organization or like our Looking Glass. We would not have chosen a Looking Glass back in that day because there could be somebody from the glass industry there. So we really removed it. So it was red planet versus green planet for the colonization of a new planet. Some of that still shows up in the one simulation they do today which is Earth II. And so you have—and we really wanted to do this assessment, this behavioral assessment to learn. So we said there was a primary leader, there was technical leader, like people leader, I think it was called. And then there were five roles, financial leader. And then there was this role called termite. And termite was the minority. And the termite could run havoc with the rest of the system. So you had this role for Red Planet. You had the same roles over here on Green Planet. And you were out here to colonize this new planet. So you were in competition with each other to make this happen. And part of that was living out Doug Holmes' life. So we sat down and designed this simulation, and we were reading. Doug brought in a whole pile of science fiction books and we used that. And we knew there were certain skills that each one of these roles would play, so we built those in. So what you did in the simulation—the simulation would last three and a half hours, and you had a chance to play each one of these roles. So the simulation was repeated. And there was enough difference between the roles that when you played financial leader, you didn't learn something from here, but obviously, you learned through the whole system, so that was a flaw. But anyway, one of the ways you could get feedback was you know, Joe, you're really good with people but your technology skills are not there. We wouldn't be that blunt, but that's one of the things you could say. And then the termite role was fun. I really loved that role. I was responsible for writing that role. It was the person who got in, tried to change things. While they were trying to move along this way, this other person was pulling it off. That's Doug Holmes again. So people—and that went on for five days. There was also a test battery that is probably three times the amount of tests that we use now. There was also dream interpretation.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Really?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Yeah.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Who did the dream interpretation?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Doug. Doug is a clinician. Doug as a clinician did the dream interpretation. And this is a story that I wondered about that stuff, is it really true. So besides designing this, we were the first people to do feedback to. And so every executive, early executive, early guinea pig that went through our program, we would sit down and prepare a case study. So if I'm going to sit down with you at 1:00 this afternoon, I walk into a case study that morning at 9:00 where I present my summary findings of the test and the behavioral stuff here. And I would sit down with Doug and my colleagues and say I'm going to give feedback to Joe and these are the three things. There's something I don't know about over here, what do you think? And we'd have discussions. And so when I left that meeting, I was pretty well set on how I was going to, what I was going to communicate to you. And then of course, it was still my scale on how well it was communicated or not. So we would do that. And then the dream, we said to these people because it was quite an intense week, if you have any dreams, when you come in the next morning for breakfast, there's this room with a tape recorder, just tell us about your dreams. So we would at the end of these sessions, the preparation sessions, any dreams? And yeah, Doug, there's this one dream and this one person's been telling me about this. And Doug looked at me and said, "Only if you're close to this guy at the end of the session, why don't you ask him if he had some death experience early on in his life." I said, "Okay, only if I get close to this guy." It was a young African-American, and we had a great session. And he said, "Oh, was that at all?" He said, "Thank you, was that all?" And I said, "No, there's one more thing I'd like to ask you." We got back into another three hours. What happened was he was a twin and his sibling died in birth.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Oh, my.
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
I went back to Holmes and what it taught me is when you're a clinician, you build up experiences. And what sounds odd to us, if you've been in that setting, you question. And that's one of the learnings I took away was, over the years of working with managers, I can generalize from other experiences I've had with managers and am able to do it.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Who were the people who came into do this? Who were the participants?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Early, our participants were whoever we could get, anyone we could get. A lot of them were the Richardson Fellows.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
So those were the young people?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Yeah, young people. And early on, we had—the Army had its—my book now is about positive turbulence or scanning the periphery. And so the Army had people who were scanning the periphery and finding out what's going on out in the behavioral sciences. And they found us, so they started sending young officers here.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Oh, so that's actually something I hadn't appreciated. So in your sense, the Army wanted to be surveying the outlying parts of this field to keep up with what people were testing.
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
I mean it's intelligence gathering basically is what they're doing. So they would come in and then there was this John Red eluded to that we finally had to pay people to come. The only people who didn't pay was the military. They paid their own people to come, and we put them through everything. For the first two and a half years, programs Doug Holmes had developed, Bob Dorn, Irving Taylor and Don Penner had developed. And it was eight weeks maybe, ten weeks. And then at the end was when they had this evaluation to tell you what works, what doesn't work and that. And that's when the bloodletting took place after that. So those were the early days of people. I think we had a couple of castoffs as they say turkey farms, NCNB didn't want to have around, so they sent them to us. That's NCNB from the old days. And some of them were not. Some of the early executives who came through are city executives today.