Clark L. Wilson, Ph.D., Innovator of 360 Feedback for Training and Development Applications, Passes Away

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Dr. Clark Wilson, author of the Survey of Management Practices© and many other validated 360 feedback surveys, passed away recently at the age of 92. He was credited as the first to introduce and validate the concept of multi-rater feedback for management training and leadership development applications in 1973. He was the author of 16 validated surveys, plus hundreds of customized 360 feedback assessments for corporate and institutional clients.

After over 30 years of analysis, the problem of most managers is very clear. Too many managers try to exercise control without providing the technical and teambuilding skills needed to achieve their goals.

Clark Loudon Wilson, Jr., 92, a psychologist credited with introducing the concept of 360 feedback to the management training field, died in August at the Shenandoah Valley Westminster Canterbury retirement community in Winchester, Virginia.

Dr. Wilson’s greatest contribution to the field of industrial and organizational psychology came late in his career, after he developed the Multi-Level Management Surveys in 1970. An expert in psychological measurement and statistics, he developed assessment tools for managers that provided feedback on relevant managerial and leadership skills from the manager him/herself, the supervisor, direct reports, and peers.

Wilson achieved his first research breakthrough when he discovered there was a mathematical basis for the learning sequence he designed. The data showed that when a manager or executive practiced managerial skills in a certain sequence, their measurable effectiveness on the job was greatly enhanced. Over time, multi-level feedback, or 360 feedback as it is now known, became a powerful instructional technique that enabled individuals to see themselves as others see them and improve their managerial effectiveness. The surveys addressed many aspects of organizational behavior and are used throughout the world to improve the performance of managers and leaders. The Survey of Management Practices© (SMP), Survey of Leadership Practices©, and Survey of Executive Leadership©, are among Wilson’s most popular titles.

Up to the time of his death, Wilson continued to develop and publish a full range of assessment tools that were of rigorous psychometric standards and highly regarded in the field. Clark Wilson published his last book in 2003 at the age of 89. “How and Why Effective Managers Balance Their Skills” brings together conclusions from 35 years of research. (The book is available from the distributors listed below.)

In the introduction, he summarizes: "After over 30 years of analysis, the problem of most managers is very clear. Too many managers try to exercise control without providing the technical and teambuilding skills needed to achieve their goals." This imbalance derails individuals and undermines organizational performance, he says, while the presence of these skills -- which can be learned -- measurably improves business outcomes.

Today, Dr. Wilson’s Task Cycle® theory is the underlying system for 16 core surveys and over 200 customized versions that are used by multinational corporations and institutions throughout the world. The products are published by Clark Wilson Group, Boulder, CO, and they are distributed by The Booth Company, Boulder, CO, 1-800-332-6684, and Performance Programs, Inc., Old Saybrook, CT, 1-800-565-4223.

Clark Wilson received his A.B. from Stanford University in 1935. He joined the U.S. Navy in World War II and served in the submarine force in the Pacific theater and was awarded both the Silver Star and the Gold Star. He earned a Ph.D. in applied psychology from the University of Southern California in 1948. He was a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and a Fellow of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychologists. He and his wife, Ruth Berry Wilson, lived in New Canaan, Connecticut from 1959 – 1998, and then retired to Winchester, Virginia. He is survived by his wife of over 63 years and five daughters. For additional information on Dr. Wilson’s life and achievements, or to obtain a copy of his book, call Kathy or Dianne, 1-800-565-4223.

This press release was distributed through eMediawire by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: on behalf of the company listed above.

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Kathleen G. Connolly
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