People Process Culture (PPC): What it is and why study…

So, this year I’ve taken on the duties of the People Process Culture Endowed Chair here at Stout.  I am looking forward to delivering on previous contributions to organizational behavior as well as some aspects that are pertinent in today’s global society.  Basically, developing the ‘service heart’ concept.  So, what is PPC and why study a concept?  It isn’t new the idea of addressing the needs of all your stakeholders.  The concept has been around in my industry of tourism and hospitality since man traveled afar to find food.  Pretty old.  We just haven’t address solid nomenclature till the 20th century.

The first real historical incidence in my industry of this concept that I can find to date is Delmonico’s of NYC.  My first encounter with this type of philosophy in a practical sense was with Marriott.  The first time it is part of the core values of the company and written down was when the founders of the company, Bill and Alice Marriott, opened their root beer stand in 1927 in Washington, DC.

Yet, the simplicity of the concept, the beauty of it, is breaking down that beauty to its complexity and reconstructing it to understand that brilliance.  It might not always be the same as the original because relationships have these nuances, but there must be core values that are consistently apparent.  What is that quotation from The Last Samuri at the end of the movie:

Katsumoto: The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life. [With his dying breath] Perfect… They are all… perfect..

A rose
A rose…

What is Katsumoto trying to convey?  Perfection doesn’t really exist because everything holds perfection.  There is a sense of perfection.  Now don’t jump to conclusions.  Perfections have flaws and are really never perfect because everything is inherently flawed.  That is the beauty of life.  Embrace that perfection/imperfection, that flaw in all of us and see it for what it is.  Be open and receiving.  Okay, coming down from my higher position, down the stairs and taking a seat (think Socrates here).

Organizational theory, PPC is important to study because business is about managing not just the tangibles, but the intangibles.  The human element.  All stakeholders and that interaction.  It is dynamic, ever-changing, and always in flux.

I have always loved puzzles.  Why am I bringing this up?  Well, understanding about the interplay of interactions between individuals is a unique puzzle.

Let me explain this illustration.  Bear with me.

You go to the store to buy a puzzle.  If I don’t know anything about this puzzle or its degree of complexity, I examine the box more closely.  I look at the number of pieces, the intricacy of the picture and try to make a decision.  Maybe, I buy it on aesthetics alone.  I am really into cool castles at the moment, so maybe I’m looking for something towards my interests.   I want to find one that I desire.  One that tugs at the hedonistic value.  The outside of the box presents a really pleasing picture of a place I want to visit or be a part of.

Cue Forrest Gump:

“Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you are going to get.”

Now lets tie that into organizations and perhaps, searching for that best employer.  Working for that right firm.  On the outside everything that is presented to you is a very pleasing picture.  All bright and shiny.  You’ve heard great things about this company.  You’ve done some research and examined some public documents.  Yet, you are on the outside looking in…not until you delve further into that company will you understand the depth of complexity.  The tangible and intangible.  The products, the processes, and the human factor.

You open the box.

Are there instructions to understand the complexity?  Sure on the front.  You have a picture of how it is supposed to be. But there is nothing on how to start or how to navigate the waters.  Everything you view is from your own vantage point, your point of reference, your point of view.  That point of reality has been shaped, morphed, changed, or reshaped with experience.  Don’t discount your experience.  Life is an experience, good and bad.  It is how you use that experience that is also important.  Learn from it, strive to overcome challenges.

Cue my own mantra:

“Challenge life, don’t let life challenge you.”

In real live, you have submitted a resume and gained an interview.  You run the hurdles and are offered a job.  You accept, and everything is right in the world.  That day has come, you pack your lunch, and hit the bricks. Open the door and walk in. And faced with a new environment. Somewhat daunting and scary.  Change always comes with fear and joy.  You’ve left the ordinary world you knew, and crossed a threshold into another realm.  Embrace it.

The pile of pieces of the puzzle.
The pile of pieces of the puzzle.an interview.

The goal of the box is to reconstruct the pieces into some sense of organization to recreate the picture.  The objectives are the plan of attack to reach that goal.  Facing a mountain of uncertainty, the pile of pieces is the first challenge.  Where to start?  Every puzzle is different. Yet, more importantly, at this point, what questions do I ask in order to understand how to approach this project before me.

The first day is introduction into your new reality.  This isn’t university anymore Toto.  It sinks in possibly as you are indoctrinated into this new social system, this new community that you might just have a limited awareness.

Set aside now the tangible, the products.  As stated before, there are two avenues to follow, one readily apparent with some degree of mysticism (the production process of tangibles), and the other that has more of mysterious element–the human interplay.  A host of personalities to decipher and understand.  How do I make sense of this complexity?  For some, this reality comes with a greater sense of diversity that they have ever encountered before.

Whoa, hold on.  This isn’t diversity.  Not even close.  This is so much more.  Wait, be patient students, we’ll get to this in a bit.

As a professor and researcher, I am aware of the craft of my job.  I study it.  I pick it apart to gain knowledge.  I had an epiphany in my early thirties that I had a limited awareness about life, both personal and professional.  I had to set aside what I thought and deconstruct my known puzzle.  Those pieces weren’t enough.  It never is…

Look for that Obi-Wan among the multitude of faces and become his or her apprentice.  Ask someone who is successful in that job that may have been hired in the last two years and find out who that person is, because you will need a guide.  Sometimes you have to go it alone with just your gut and intuition.  (How do I know what is right and wrong?)

Game of Thrones, Oathbreaker, 2016
Game of Thrones, Oathbreaker, 2016

Cue Game of Thrones, Ser Davos conversing with Jon Snow after he awakens from the dead:

Davos Seaworth: You clean up as much of the shit as you can.
Jon Snow: I don’t know how to do that. I thought I did, but… I failed.
Davos Seaworth: Good. Now go fail again.

Life and work doesn’t always come with instructions.  Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and try.  Some approach the puzzle and just start, uncovering the patterns along the way.  Others, before even starting, study and look for patterns.  I have always adhered to visualization techniques and using my imagination to envision different scenarios.  I am a big fan of using scenarios when teaching.  Hence, why I like to do projects.

Is there a right way or a wrong way?

When faced with developing the light bulb, Edison didn’t get it the first try.  It took him more than 500+ to get to the finished product.  What did he learn, what was his saying and someone else…”I found 500+ ways how not to invent a light bulb.”

Sometimes you jump right in with great enthusiasm and you get stuck at a point.  A curse slips past your lips as you realize you need to start again.  That this road is not the one you should have taken.  Hopefully, it isn’t too bad that you can’t recover, because in any industry, especially my own recovery from disgruntled stakeholders could mean the ability to capture or not, revenue, today or in the future.  And in tourism, hospitality, compared to other industries revenue isn’t like manufacturing, cars, construction, etc.  We have a 24 hour perishability.  If we don’t capture revenues within a 24 hour period, it is permanently lost.  We can’t gain it back.

We want repeat business and loyalty.  And not just for revenues.  Want want to create a family.

That disgruntled stakeholder might be your employee.  How do we create longevity?  How do we create a working environment where people love to come to work and want to be there?

So, for some this process, this exchange, this dynamic interplay of people is highly important.  Be prepared for anything.  As I tell my students, you have to be prepared for anyone that walks through that door.  You can’t think for a moment that everyone is the same.  Therefore, you have to ask questions of your employees, your peers, your mentors, your managers, your CEOs, and yourself what you should or shouldn’t do.  That is how you develop intuition.  Always asking questions.

Then you can find a path to put the puzzle together.  Not everyone will accomplish this goal the same, so you have to be prepared for everyone’s point of reality.  You all have goals and objectives, even common ones to get to the end result.   It is wondrous to see how this happens.  It is fantastic to learn how this happens. 

The more knowledge you gain from studying PPC, organizational behavior and from your experience, the stronger leader and manager you will become.  The finished product will be fantastic and everyone will love to be in the same place.

I finish this post with two quotes from two football coaches I greatly admire.  Vince Lombardi and Joe Paterno.

“Leadership is not just one quality, but rather a blend of many qualities; and while no one individual possesses all of the needed talents that go into leadership, each man can develop a combination to make him a leader.” ~ Vince Lombardi

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.” ~ Joe Paterno
Meld them together and you have one of the answers to that epiphany I had in my thirties.  It was always about me up to that point in my life, and I wasn’t progressing as my peers.  I was unhappy in my daily life.  I looked for rewards before the end of that current journey.  I wanted something concrete before I had even created it.  I wasn’t a true leader.  I’m not even one now.  I still don’t have all of the skills or talents and probably never will.  But preparation is vital for me, for anyone to be better.  And studying this process as well as others is that preparation.  It will help you attain that combination to be a leader or even just a member of a group that is trying to achieve something.
Enjoy the semester!

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