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DDI Founders & History

Four decades of innovation in shaping the science behind leadership development, talent acquisition and succession management

William C. Byham, Ph.D., and the late Douglas W. Bray, Ph.D.,William C. Byham, Ph.D., and the late Douglas W. Bray, Ph.D., founded Development Dimensions International (DDI) in 1970 to create and implement assessment centers that would provide behavioral data for hiring, promotion and employee and management development decisions for businesses. Their groundbreaking work on assessment center methodology evolved into many of the best practices still used today. In addition, Bill and Doug pioneered programs and services to hire and develop organizational talent. Today, DDI is an internationally-renowned human resource training and consulting company with offices around the world.

Bill is the executive chairman of DDI and works with its operating committee to establish the company’s vision, values and strategic direction and guide major product development and consulting projects. Doug served as DDI’s chairman of the board and consulted with Bill and top DDI executives on a wide range of human resource matters.

Both Bill and Doug brought industry-leading experience in assessment, hiring and leadership development to DDI. Prior to founding DDI, Bill was the manager of selection, appraisal and general management development for J. C. Penney, where he started a managerial assessment center in 1968, leveraging Doug’s experience and research. After the successful application of the methodology at J. C. Penney, Bill wrote the first popular article about assessment centers for the Harvard Business Review.

After DDI was established, Doug remained in his role as director of human resources research and practice at AT&T. In this role he directed a landmark 25-year study that followed the careers of managers as they progressed up the company ranks. The study showed that the assessment center method could successfully predict organizational achievement. Assessment centers were subsequently implemented throughout AT&T.

During the last 45+ years, Bill has forged important innovations in human resource technologies and systems that have had a significant impact on organizations worldwide. These HR and management breakthroughs include:  the assessment center method, behavior-based interviewing, behavioral job analysis methodology, results-based employee and management training and development, empowerment, Targeted Feedback® (an alternative to 360 multi-source feedback) and Acceleration Pool® as a method of succession management. Bill has shared his advancements in 22 books and more than 200 monographs and articles.

Doug was a luminary in the industrial/organizational psychology community, helping to develop Bell Systems successful supervisor relations training program and playing a key role in the early application and evaluation of behavior modeling training. He had more than 60 books and articles to his credit and was the recipient of many awards including:

  • Lifetime of Achievement in Assessment Center Methodology Award, 2000.
  • Gold Medal Award of Life Achievement in the Application of Psychology, American Psychological Foundation, 1991.
  • Outstanding Contribution to Psychology and Management Award, Society of Psychologists in Management, 1986.
  • Distinguished Service and Outstanding Contribution Award, American Board of Professional Psychology, 1988.

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