Charles Kepner biography and books

Charles Kepner - Toolshero

Charles Kepner (Charles Higgins Kepner or Chuck Kepner; 1922 – 2016) was a famous American problem solving expert. He also was a successful entrepreneur and management consultant, who helped hundreds of companies in sixty different countries. His work and methodologies on strategic thinking have been applied everywhere from NASA and the CIA to prominent organizations throughout the world.

Charles Kepner biography

In 1951 Charles Kepner graduated for his bachelor at the University of Mexico.

After receiving his bachelor, he graduated in 1952 for his Master of Arts at the University of Oregon. He finally got his doctorate (Ph.D.) in 1956 from the University of Michigan.

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During his doctorate research (1954 – 1955), Charles Kepner worked as a director research Royal Committee on Agriculture. In 1956 he changed jobs and started to work as a senior research analyst at Rand Corporation. At RAND Corporation he met Benjamin Tregoe and the started to conduction research on people reactions versus processed problem solving information.

After leaving the RAND Corporation (1958), he continued this cooperation with Benjamin Tregoe and together they started a company called Kepner Tregoe, a large consultancy firm who are specialized in Problem Solving and Decision making techniques.

He (co)developed with Benjamin Tregoe, various problem solving and decision making methods like the Kepner Tregoe Method / K-T Rational Thinking, also known as the Problem Solving and Decision making process (PSDM). He also delivered great contribution to the Thinking Dimensions Global problem solving methodology.

After years of cooperation and business successes (1958 – 1983), Benjamin Tregoe and Charles Kepner parted. Charles Kepner continued his groundbreaking work in problem solving, decision-making and root cause analysis, eventually partnering with Dr. Mat-Thys Fourie, a recognized expert in problem solving. This resulted also in a new problem solving method called the KEPNERandFOURIE method or KandF Method, a general process troubleshooting and decision making method.

In 1983 Charles Kepner became head of Kepner & Associates while Mat-Thys Fourie had established Rational Management Consultants.

In 1995, both gentlemen opted to pool their collective experiences and investigate a possible new venture using their rational and intuitive problem solving skills.

In 1997 Thinking Dimensions International was established and the initial Problem Solving and Decision Making skills workshops were launched.

By 2000, Thinking Dimensions had grown into a top international training organization, and in 2001 they added consulting services. Charles Kepner ‘s legacy continues today as Thinking Dimensions Global continues to thrive, grow and innovate around its fundamental areas of expertise – problem solving and decision-making.

Dr. Charles Kepner died on the 27th of March 2016, at the age of 94.

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Charles Kepner quotes

  1. “As some ancient wise [person] put it, ‘If it was easy to do, somebody would have already done it.’ Breaking new ground is hard, hard work.”
  2. “The dynamics of thinking, logic, wisdom from experience, and the ability to diverge to find new ideas, and converge to put them all together in a practical way, apply equally to the individual and to the individual working with other people.
  3. “But you cannot just tell people, ‘Look, you’ve got to solve your own problems!’ You must provide them with both the skills and the confidence to do that.”
  4. “The purpose of Decision Analysis is to identify what needs to be done, develop the specific criteria for its accomplishment, evaluate the available alternatives relative to those criteria, and identify the risks involved.”
  5. “A decision statement always indicates a choice, some kind of action and its intended result: Select.”

Publications and books

  • 2013, 1997, 1976, 1965. The new rational manager: An updated edition for a new world. Kepner-Tregoe Incorporated.
  • 2009. Managing beyond the ordinary. Dog Ear Publishing.
  • 1996. Calling all thinkers. HR Focus, 73(10), 3.
  • 1979. Problem analysis and decision making. Princeton.
  • 1971. Developing decision makers. Hornstein et al.(Intervention), 122-133.
  • 1966. Your Job Situation.
  • 1963. Management Problem Solving and Decision Making. SAE Technical Paper.
  • 1960. Developing decision makers. Harvard Business Review, 38(5), 115-124.

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Published on: 12/28/2016 | Last update: 03/19/2024

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Vincent van Vliet
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Vincent van Vliet

Vincent van Vliet is co-founder and responsible for the content and release management. Together with the team Vincent sets the strategy and manages the content planning, go-to-market, customer experience and corporate development aspects of the company.


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