Just in Time for Father’s Day: Chris Kilmann Returns as Managing Director of Kilmann Diagnostics

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Kilmann Diagnostics, an e-learning company that provides online courses with the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), is pleased to announce that Chris Kilmann has been appointed as its new Managing Director, effective May 29, 2012.

Chris Kilmann

Chris Kilmann

Dad, instead of sitting on your ass and collecting your royalties every quarter, why don’t we find a way to have the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument (TKI) and the other stuff you created reach a much larger audience.

Almost three years ago, on June 14, 2009, Chris Kilmann approached his father, Ralph, with these inspiring words: “I just figured out exactly what I want to do in life: I want to join the family business!”

Since Ralph had already been retired from the University of Pittsburgh since 2001, however, he naturally asked his son: “What family business?” And then Ralph quickly added: "Are you saying that you want to join me in my retirement?"

To that stream of reasonable questions, Chris set the record straight: “Dad, instead of sitting on your ass and collecting your royalties every quarter, why don’t we find a way to have the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument (TKI) and the other stuff you created reach a much larger audience. That’s what I mean by a family business!”

A week later, on June 21, 2009, Father’s Day, Chris and Ralph decided on a name for their family business: Kilmann Diagnostics (KD). Its mission would be to resolve conflict throughout the world by providing online courses with the TKI and other assessment tools.

KD held its first live online course, Advanced Training in Conflict Management, in mid-January 2010, and then continued to provide that same eight-hour course twice every month. But by the end of April, contrary to the agreed-upon plan, Chris decided he wasn’t ready to begin teaching that course: He just didn’t feel comfortable trying to fill his father’s shoes, which had already been filled by more than forty years of teaching, research, and consulting projects throughout the world. In retrospect, it didn’t make sense for Chris to assume that very demanding role: "try to be your father." Soon afterward, Chris left KD to pursue his own path in another start-up company.

Meanwhile, Ralph was not only disheartened from Chris' sudden departure, but was also having his own identity crisis: "How do I want to spend the rest of my life?" But instead of disbanding KD and returning to his previous retirement, Ralph decided to record the online course as a way of keeping the business in limbo for the time being. Bottom line: Ralph decided to record his course just so he wouldn't have to keep teaching it.

But a funny thing happened on the way from a live to a recorded venue: Besides Ralph not having to deliver his live online course every other week, participants could now take the recorded version at their own convenience: any day, any time, any where, and at their own pace. What was first done to merely sustain the family business until Ralph could decide what to do with his life, turned out to be a brilliant business strategy: Because of the recent surge in software and hardware developments that made high-resolution video streaming the fastest growing medium for all kinds of educational programs, people could now take recorded courses on their laptop computers, Internet tablets, and smartphones.

During the next few years, Ralph became so enthusiastic about the new world of e-learning and m-learning that he proceeded to record four more online courses: Basic Training in Conflict Management, Culture Management, Critical Thinking, and Team Management, all of which were then bundled into The Complete Program.

Fast-forward to earlier this month: Chris had now been away from KD for almost two years, yet Ralph had kept his dream alive of still making KD the family business it was initially intended to be. To make a long weekend of many discussions short, Chris gave his former employer two weeks notice and agreed to become KD’s Managing Director, commencing on May 29, 2012.

In his return to KD, Chris will neither be teaching nor recording any online courses. Instead, he will focus all his attention (and make good use of his MBA specialization in entrepreneurship) on growing the business by developing new partnerships, arranging regional distributors, and establishing sales representatives—all of which will be supported by new approaches to online marketing. These activities will surely expand the use of Ralph Kilmann’s online courses, assessments, and books, thus bringing Chris’ original impetus in forming a family business—full circle.


Since 2009, the mission of Kilmann Diagnostics is to resolve conflict throughout the world by providing online courses with the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) and other assessment tools. KD is the exclusive provider of online training for the TKI—worldwide. Visit: Kilmann Diagnostics.


Chris Kilmann, MBA, is Managing Director and Product Specialist at Kilmann Diagnostics in Newport Coast, California, which he co-founded June 14, 2009. He earned a bachelor's degree in cognitive science and sociology from the University of California, Irvine. He next earned his MBA degree in entrepreneurship and international business from California State University, Long Beach. Previously, Chris was awarded membership into the National Honor Society and was profiled in Who's Who Among American High School Students. He is also a founding father of the Lambda Lambda chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at the University of California, Irvine.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Chris moved to California in 2001, where he gained valuable experience in customer service and management: first at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and then at The Irvine Company. Later he gained valuable experience with online curation, content production, and marketing for Spot411 Technologies, a social media company specializing in second screen interaction with television.


Ralph H. Kilmann, Ph.D., is CEO and Senior Consultant at Kilmann Diagnostics in Newport Coast, California. Formerly, he was the George H. Love Professor of Organization and Management at the Katz School of Business, University of Pittsburgh—which was his professional home for thirty years. He earned both his B.S. and M.S. degrees in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon University (1970) and a Ph.D. degree in management from the University of California, Los Angeles (1972).

Dr. Kilmann is an internationally recognized authority on systems change. He has consulted for numerous corporations throughout the United States and Europe, including AT&T, IBM, Ford, General Electric, Lockheed, Olivetti, Philips, TRW, Wolseley, and Xerox. He has also consulted for numerous health-care, financial, and government organizations, including the U.S. Bureau of the Census and the Office of the U.S. President.

Kilmann has published twenty books and more than one hundred articles on such subjects as conflict management, organizational design, problem management, change management, and quantum organizations.

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