Perhaps, our discussion on PPC should begin with trying to define the concept of organizational culture. Heck, we could use this for all of my classes as well, because inherent within each course should be an understanding of organizations, culture, leadership and so forth.
After reading and researching about PPC in preparation for my interview for the Chair position, I found common threads of thought in one big giant quilt. It’s complicated and intricate. One step at a time.
With every body of knowledge, there is a history. A host of people contributing to a greater whole. No one has the cornerstone on that history. Each company, industry, person has an experience, and what emerges from that history are common practices and theories. The line of thought, if you research your own companies as I have asked, may have shades of PPC within it already. If you want to be an effective leader, you need to research other companies within and outwit your own career aspirations. You need to study people and processes. Become a avid reader!
Over the course of history, organizations have viewed work in various forms. I’m not going to rehash that history, but know that owners, leaders, supervisors, companies, etc, have all viewed organizational culture from different vantage points. Different points of reality. Good and bad.
A company can be broken down into two aspects. Tangible and intangible. Products and people.
Organizational culture is about studying the dynamics of the people within an organization. How they get things down. How they deliver on promises. How they work together to achieve objectives for a broader goal.
How do organizations value their people and those that complete tasks. What is rewards? How do people value each other and the job they do. Value takes on a whole new meaning.
Lui and Cervenka in Kersten and La Venture (2015, p. vii)1 lend credit to the argument that all people, employees, and associates have an ‘intrinsic value’. Simply put, what Bob Cervenka, as reported in Kersten and Laventure, stipulated that success hinges on the people of any organization. It’s true. Walt Disney knew back in 1950s that his vision of an amusement park wouldn’t be a success without the ‘cast’ members doing their part to create the illusion. He wouldn’t be able to develop cutting edge rides without pushing the imagineers to do their best. Even when such processes hadn’t been invented (think animatronics). Yet, Epcot in Disney World, the last project that Walt helped to design, almost didn’t get built because of Disney’s untimely death. He had a certain vision and shared most of that vision with his employees. It wasn’t enough just to share that information.
Lui and Cervenka stress that information is a key variable that must be shared. Thus, the root of success is about communication. But is that the complete picture?
Information has two sides. Tangible and intangible. Seen and not. Information is one of the drivers of the tourism industry, besides money and promises. At any time during the process, the dynamic function that is tourism, information can be accessed and used by any and all stakeholders. It is something that is always being created, and utilized to create or do something. Communication is a constant action, but not always part of the process. Yes, information can be assumed. Misdirection can occur.
Yet, what about innovation and creativity. It isn’t just about information sharing, well-being, and communication (p. viii). Disney had a creative mindset. He fostered creativity and innovation. Innovation is dynamic. Organizations must be adaptable to internal and external stimuli. Organizations are organic, active entities, constantly churning and thinking. If they don’t, they will stagnate. If they do not step out of that stagnation moment, reinvent, rejuvenate in some form, they will die within the product life cycle.
Disney did have one flaw. The total communication of his ideas. Much was left unsaid at the end. His unique energy died with him. Many have said he was the driving force behind the concepts, the force to get projects down. He saw beyond the walls, beyond the confines of a theme park and married a host of threads together. Not many can do what he did. Steve Jobs couldn’t. Bill Gates can’t.
Once Disney was gone, uncertainty set in and the value of the Disney brand suffered. Disney created a competitive advantage above other similar products because of his unique, innovative methods of park management. The energy fizzled out for a time being, and they realized that they couldn’t really execute Epcot as Walt desired. They had to go back to the drawing board because of the dynamic nature of creation. Therefore, there has to be some legacy of that vision. Yet, a mainstay for Disney as well as other companies has been well established core values. A mission and vision to set a foundation.
So, it is not just an investment in a product but the people behind that product. It is an investment of time in developing relationships with all stakeholders as well as their creative abilities (yes, even customers). Everyone can contribute. Just look at the Ritz Carlton brand. They empower their employees to make decision that will affect customer service by giving them a monetary stipend to handle guest complaints. Managers and other senior leaders hope it never gets to that complaint level with the idea of training ‘ladies and gentlemen’ to serve ‘ladies and gentlemen’. I argue then that I want all of my employees to take an active part in helping my customers and all my stakeholders craft their experience. So a host of variables must be articulated and identified in order to have well function culture.
The aforementioned authors discuss trust. Any relationship is built on trust. In tourism, we call these “moments of truth”. And not just from a customer standpoint. Moments of truth are built on promises, articulated and not. We are making a ‘contract’ with our stakeholders. We promise to give them something for a return on that promise. More than just information. More than just money in a paycheck. We are establish physical, psychological and social dynamic exchange. Competition to hire and retain talent has been the bane of most industries, especially in tourism. Bloome, Van Rheede and Tromp (2013) highlight the hardships within the hospitality sector of the tourism industry in the retention of ideal employees. Psychological contracts are just as important as other forms. Expectations before, during and after hiring have to be addressed 2. How do we set a value on our employees? How do we know how much their worth? Lui and Cervenka hint at this established with compensation. Yet, they fail to recognize the factor that value happens well before hiring that employee that Bloome, Van Rheede and Tromp conclude. Companies need to take an active participation in the education of potential employees. The people process culture is an extension beyond the confines of a firm, but to the society in which it operates. Not after the fact, before. Proactive, not reactive. Not result focus entirely, but before that point.
Do not limit the power of benefit. So, this may be an argument for the power of potentiality. How do we put a value on potential?
Too long we have looked for a means to an end. We are waiting for something to happen. We have to look before that point. We have to recognize the action-reaction-result loop. That for every action there is a reaction that leads to a result. Those actions happen at any time. A proactive stance in business in all of its processes may or may not aid you in developing a strong, organic structure.
So we must understand all of our stakeholders at any time in the given dynamic world that is our organization.
Culture is yet to be defined and that is for next time.
1. Kersten, J., La Venture, Kelly, Lui, Katherine E. Welch, & Cervenka, Debbie. (2015). The human factor to profitability : Building a people-centered culture for long-term success / Jeanette Kersten, EdD, SPHR, and Kelly La Venture, EdD ; with a foreword by Kat Lui, PhD, and Debbie Cervenka. (First ed.).
2. Blomme, R., Van Rheede, A., & Tromp, D. (2009). The hospitality industry: an attractive employer? An exploration of students’ and industry workers’ perceptions of hospitality as a career field. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 21(2), 6-14. doi:10.1080/10963758.2009.10696939