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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Stan Gryskiewicz, January 15, 1999. Interview S-0017. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Managerial changes and the development of a marketing department

Gryskiewicz continues to discuss some of the organizational changes that the Center for Creative Leadership faced in the late 1970s into the mid-1980s, when Walt Ulmer assumed the presidency. In particular, Gryskiewicz focuses on how the Center sought to more fully develop its marketing department, while it continues to forge new ground in curriculum development for its creativity programs. Throughout the passage, he stresses the roles various individuals played in this process.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Stan Gryskiewicz, January 15, 1999. Interview S-0017. 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

JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Let me ask you about early 80's, Ken Clark's tenure. Tom Bridgers mentioned to me that that was a period when boy, there was a lot of long term planning going on. People were writing memos and studies and organization plans and all kinds of things trying to find a way. Do you have recollections about that? Did you have a sense of that CCL was sort of trying to restructure itself or reorganize itself or refocus itself?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
There was a sense of that but I don't remember as many memos going back and forth about it. But there was this sense of—well, that's not true because DeVries was running the show by then, right?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah.
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
DeVries, again, part of his savvy of manipulating and working with the board or senior people, that was all part of the show. There was a lot of that going on, Tom was right. But you know, some of us in the trenches were saying let David do that. We'll go out and do things. There was still some of us who had been around from the beginning who thought that was the appropriate way to act. We had become larger and larger, it's less flexibility. It'd be very easy to get away with. But yes, Tom's right.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Another question before I turn to Ulmer and his arrival in '85 and some of the reorganization in '87 and so forth. Do you have recollections of—I guess along the way here in the 80's, there's an effort made by CCL to organize more formally a marketing department, if you will. I'm thinking of Linda Helgerson and Bill Drath and so forth. Did you have much opportunity to work with these folks at all, have contact with these folks?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Linda Helgerson, I told you she had more balls than most of the guys here. That she just drove it and said you guys are living in la-la land. You guys don't even have brochures. You don't know how to interface with the outside world. And so she was good about that. But I don't think she was a marketing person. I just think she had some savvy about how you appear to the outside world. She may have been more of a PR person.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
I see.
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
So there was attempts at doing that. Again, this was one of Campbell's decisions. He brought in Helgerson. And it was again, one of these interesting people who along with that interest and activity in moving things forward had some negative sides to her. And she brought in Bill Drath and Bill Drath came in with his ponytail from Chapel Hill. And he was a writer for her. She brought him in as a writer and I think he was part-time driving back and forth to Chapel Hill. And just Drath has made a great contribution here and will continue making great contributions. But he did come in as a part-time writer for Helgerson. But he wasn't a marketing person. He was a writer. I mean if we had brought in a marketing person, they would have probably organized it differently and we wouldn't have had Drath here. But Drath, that was a great investment in Bill.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah. What's your sense of when, looking back, when you'd say CCL finally had something you would consider up to speed corporate style marketing effort?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Well, they brought in this guy, Mark someone. Did you get that name?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
No, it's not ringing a bell.
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Brought in a guy named Mark who lasted about two or three years and he tried to get them to—he'd been selling socks or pantyhose with the textile company and he tried to impose that kind of structure upon this organization. And some of the issues that they went through was let's review all our courses and see which ones work. And I had some personal problems with that because some of the newer courses were compared to the same criteria that the older courses were. And so some of the newer courses were dropped before they really had a chance to develop themselves. They had limited resources, so they focused on what they felt were the big winners. But that was the first attempt at coming up with some structured approach. Mark, Mark. There's a Mark in here. He was brought in and he was the first, I think, attempt because he actually came from a marketing background.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
You mentioned that they opposed these—had this rigorous look at some of these new programs and decided to let them go. Do you think that there were—I mean how serious was that over the long term for CCL, as you look back and speculate against what the prospects for some of these programs might have been if given greater opportunity to find a place?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
I think we would have had a larger footprint in the area of creativity in courses like—we introduced a course called Implementing Innovation which lasted for about three or four years while I was around and active with it. But we brought in intact cross-functional teams. So instead of signing up 24 individuals, we'd sign up four six person teams. And we would take them through the whole product development cycle and they would bring with them a real product they were working on. And we would visit them on site before they would come so we had a sense of what their problems were and their background setting. And we would assign them a, not a counselor, but it was somebody who would follow that group around all week and be their feedback processors. So we did a lot of interesting things but we had dumb things going. Our system didn't handle it well. Like we had a system that individuals would sign up but now we're having groups sign up, how do we do that? Or a group is cancelling, oh, my God. It was just a zoo and stupid just because we were treating these new courses with the same criteria and the same systems for the ongoing individual sign up for course churn it out kind of thing. And those were seen as not something novel, it isn't as useful. It was seen as boy, this is getting in the way of our system here, let's get rid of this sucker. So I think we would have had a stronger foothold in creativity. I think if I had been more of a manager, we would have had a stronger foothold in creativity.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
So is that to say you might have resisted the demise of these programs a little more aggressively?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Right. And I think if you went to this organization now and said who are the creativity people, there would be about four of us that they would identify for creativity. And the rest of the people—so I think we would have still had a creativity division or something around that nature.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
And was it ultimately Ulmer who set into place this momentum to pare down and streamline?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Yeah.