How Clark Wilson Group and ®
The Task Cycle
In 1973, Clark Wilson, Ph.D., developed the first 360 feedback survey instruments for management development. The first instrument was the Survey of Management Practices™ (SMP) and it has been used and studied since 1973.
The Survey of Management Practices was developed as a teaching tool for Dr. Wilson's management class at the University of Bridgeport (Connecticut) Graduate School of Business. With the SMP, Wilson introduced two important ideas.
First, was the concept of multilevel feedback. Managers, he believed, could learn by receiving feedback about their management skills from others. This technique had been used for many years in psychological assessment, but it had not yet been applied to the training of managers.
Second, Wilson used the concept of sequence. Viewed in a logical sequential pattern, he theorized, management skills can be learned like any other skill. Although we are accustomed to this approach today, it was new thinking at the time.
The real breakthrough occurred when Wilson discovered there was a mathematical basis for the learning sequence he designed. In other words, when a manager or executive practiced the key management skills in sequence, the manager's measureable effectiveness is enhanced.
At first, Wilson had his management students complete the SMP on themselves or their supervisors. As more students and their peers and supervisors were exposed to the SMP, it made its way into industry. The DuPont Company was the first corporation to adopt the SMP in 1973. What the company found most effective was that the SMP focused on specific, observable behaviors as opposed to broad evaluative statements. By the mid-1970s more companies, including Dow Chemical, Pitney Bowes and several utilities were using the instrument and contributing data to the norm database. Meanwhile, consultants around the country became interested in using the SMP in their practices as well. With wider use and accumulated data, Dr. Wilson produced updated editions and further developed the Task Cycle® model. Because of their foundation in theory and research, and their initial use in the graduate classroom, Clark Wilson instruments are not only used as assessment instruments, they are also used as teaching tools. Clients requested additional instruments to address other roles in the organization and found the operational logic of the Task Cycle® to be a powerful teaching model for many organizational activities.
Today, the SMP norm base contains more than 2 million surveys. It offers a six-step, sequenced approach to improved management and leadership skills. SMP's success in facilitating skill development led Dr. Wilson to create other surveys. All of them use an approach derived from learning theory that Dr. Wilson called the Task Cycle®.