We don’t live or work in a box…

We don’t live or work in a box…

What...?

We don’t live in a “box”. Life Moves at a pretty fast pace around us. Life is about movement and change. Organizations are organic, living and breathing entities.  Therefore, change is inevitable.

Constant is never guaranteed, even with steadfast core values and behaviors.  Just as nothing in life is guaranteed.  Core values are a foundation, but that doesn’t mean the house can’t change over the years of existence.

One day even that foundation may crumble and erode away.

The box isn’t permanent.  Some days, I don’t think any one item has permanency.  There is an end point.

The other day here in the department, one my colleagues was roaming around testing us if we remember the ‘Tab’ drink and the jingle.  For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the music, but I do remember that ugly old can and awful aftertaste.  Not many could remember the jingle.  Just one of those lighthearted moments to break up a stressful day.  Illustrates a good point.  Somethings in life stay with you, others don’t.

Tab isn’t around any more.  Products have a shelf life.  Most do. A product life cycle.

Everything has a life cycle, even tenure on this planet.

So, what is left behind?  A moment. A memory.  An experience.  An interaction.  An action.
Experiences, interactions, take hold in the consciousness and remain.  Some stronger than others.   Hence, if organizations are living, breathing structures they thus have a complex ‘personality’.  A complex matrix of interwoven personalities.

Life isn’t breathed into a company until you add the human element.  Or is it that founder, that person with the original idea that is exerting their personality over others?  So, maybe then this goes to the development of that mission and vision statements.  That are supposed to articulate the personality, the core values of a company.

Therefore, I question if we assimilate the personality of organizations into our own core values.  Or our own values present and melded together with the companies.  Threads of commonality. (Chicken and egg debate?)

Sort of like leadership.  What is leadership?

Leaders are ahead of us, beside us, with us that we might not even know we have commonality, and are behind.
Behind us–because we as employees and managers are so innovative and creative, so forward thinking, we are head of the company thinking. We have ‘progressive thoughts’.  The child has far exceeded the parent.

Box Cat
From past experience, I can tell you that several work places did not have my same common core values, and I would never take up their value system.  I had more integrity than that.  My integrity was more important.  So, which is more important organizational cultural values or your own?  Hints at acculturation conflict.  Is that the point you know, that this job won’t work out and it is time to find other boxes to inhabit?

So, how do we work with a variety of cultures, even our own work system.  How do we navigate such waters?

How do we keep the workplace from becoming a stagnate pool of water?

As I reread our book, I am caught between reality and the body of knowledge presented in the book.  This is nothing against the writers or their work, but I, as researcher, have been trained to question everything I read.  I critically analyze.  I study the craft of writing from different angles.  I study the world in which I live.  And that life has two different paths, professional and personal.  I study human behavior.  I study.

Just as you should.  You should develop your independent thinking skills and do not take anything at face value without thorough examination. And just make sure you back up your opinions or conclusions with factual information or other peer-reviewed evidence.  The book is a good example of how they have used a body of knowledge to support their hypotheses.

Recognize that you will have an emotional reaction to what we read before we sit down and critically analyze.  And I was having one of those moments.  My emotional inner self was boxing it out with my rational side.

The questions that arose and keeps pinging around in my brain are about organizational culture…p. 19 to be exact.

Typically, employees incorporate organizational values into their own value systems and prioritize them in terms of their relative importance as guiding principles (Rokeach, 1973 as quoted by Kersten and La Venture).

I had flippant remark tingling my lips after reading this.  I took a breath and realized my mistake.  This is 1973 thinking. I was a teenager back then.

I have to remember–1973 mode of thinking about organizations and culture was far different from today.  Just as 1950s culture is different from today.  Just as 1920 is different…conundrum potentially averted.  It is not that we don’t have commonality among generations, that we don’t all celebrate and suffer the same given life’s little nuances.  Okay, example.  1920s saw the evolution of dress for women.  Hemlines went up.  Every older generation was suffering apoplectic moments.  Fast forward to 1940s and the first vestiges of the bikini.  Get the drift.

Let’s return to that resource.  I don’t think I have ever incorporated the complete organization’s cultural values into my own core values.  I had established core values and looked for common ground, commonality.  I’m not a blank slate when I step through the doors of any company.  No one is and we come toting our own baggage, good and bad.

The word conformity doesn’t exist in my nomenclature, but I have to be honest–I do conform.  I loathe the word.  It exists and I will give it its voice, but I hate it like I hate blue cheese.  (I know, not everyone hates blue cheese.)  Everyone approaches life in their own manner.  Different points of reality and so forth.  But if I’m sitting in my favorite pub and everyone is having buffalo wings with blue cheese, and I’m the only one ordering ranch, that should tell me something.  How can I use this example to illustrate my point?

Get back to that point!

Innovative culture
One definition of innovative culture.

Yes, conformity and routine kill innovation and creativity.  So, can the mission and vision of a company that doesn’t evaluate and test their values.  As I said earlier, companies disintegrate, erode away without seeing how all the parts of a company work together, especially the human element.

What I like about Marriott is that they do articulate their values.  But do we just see the bright and shiny?  Why don’t we talk about the plausible cracks and holes in the system?  Those employees that fail and fall through those cracks.  Those that pack their bags and leave?  Who created those cracks in the fist place?

Is that then an organizational cultural failure?

Then who is to blame?

Who sets the standards on which to judge?
The benchmark on which to measure?
No two people learn the same.  No two people work, manage the same.  No two people are alike.
No two people are motivated to work the same.
Can a value system still be weak and work?
Can a value system be too strong, and thus rigid to stifle creativity?

See my problem…I’ve got a host of questions running through my mind.

Therefore, there has to be some form of commitment between parties.  There has to be a mutually beneficial contract that allows for individual identity and commonality.

This can lead into further discussions about innovative culture and positive organizational scholarship.

 

More on defining Organizational Culture…(PPC and more)

More on defining Organizational Culture…(PPC and more)

We have a host of authors within our book by Kersten and La Venture  1 that exposes the various definitions of organizational culture. There is a theme that emerges based on shared core values, beliefs, and principles.  This hints at behavior and how that behavior is communicated to a greater audience (p. 2-3).  That behavior exists within and outwit the company.  It governs the day-to-day operations and the lives that work within that community.  Yes, a community.  Marriott views their associates as a greater family.

Core Values
Core Values of the School of Hospitality Leadership
Yet, as I decipher these words, I am left with one thought, one word.  Service.  Servant leadership is a common phrase we hear about the university, and incorporate it in our culture.

The definitions of organizational culture are incomplete without the inclusion of servant leadership or service.

You may be thinking:  But it is all apart of that definition, when you argue for that commonality of themes within organizational culture.

Yes, and no.

Service is inter-woven and stands alone.  Why?  Maybe it should be the overriding concept?  See still in a heated debate.

Maybe if we address behavior.  Behavior is action.  Behavior is developed with immersion with in a unique place.  That place has three environments–physical landscape (natural/man-made environment), economic and socio-cultural.  Everyone is a product of their own three environments.  A host of variables will define those environments and shape how your beliefs are formed from the roots of those variables.  Core values remain, but the breadth and depth of those values shifts and adapts, matures and grows over time.  Some of those core values will stick with you and others you will shed with maturity, personal growth and reflection.

Life happens.

You bring these dynamics into any company.

Each individual of a society makes up the culture.  I am getting away from service and need to bring it back.  We will get to culture shortly.

Warning, service has a broad definition.  For this argument, service is the want to do something for someone else.  Not just because we have to, but because we want to.  It is the right thing to do.  We have within our hearts the want to help.  And that does have its hang ups.  We are after all human and considerably flawed.

Some have this ability to help more than others.  They have this innate compassion to such a degree that it is second nature.  No questions are asked.  Deep down we all do, but we are stymied by our own fears.

That is why I want to call it a service heart.  Some would label it as the heart of service.  But several colleagues and I have been gnashing on changing that.  I’m sure that phrase has been around for a bit.  And anyone can develop a service heart.

We have come to that conclusion that that phrase incorporates those core values.  In tourism, we have a lot of choice in products.  Some similar, some different.  What creates competitive advantage now and in the future will be the service. The human element.  People will want to return because of the people helping them fulfill their expectations.  Because we want them to return ‘home’ to us again and again.  Thus, our behavior is paramount to fulfilling the expectations of our stakeholders.  All of them.

So, at the heart of organization is a culture.  We should hold commonality, without the lost of identity.  That is something that isn’t really articulated within our first readings.  Identity.  We each bring our own sense of self to the work environment.  I have posed this question before.  How do we retain our own sense of self in a workplace that may or may not have the same common values as our own.  Today, we are seeing disparity in our society.  Not all of us possess the same beliefs.  We have our own unique cultural attributes that we bring into a workplace.  How do we mesh this divergence?  Some are not always the same.  Should we or should we not ask people to change that culture to conform (shudder) to that workplace culture?  Do the mission and vision of a company posses the flexibility to handle various cultural nuances?

Acculturation exists in tourism.  Simply defined, it is the moment when two or more cultures meet and something happens.  You can either have assimilation of one culture with another.  Yes, there may or may not be dominance of one over another.  The second may be nothing happens.  Or friction.  There is too much difference that problems occur.  Could we now extend this concept into the workplace because of the diverse backgrounds of our employees.

So, maybe I should hint at diversity.  Diversity, in its simplest terms, is about the difference in a workplace.  It identifies that difference and should be embraced. We can all contribute to our workplace. Yet, the definition is limiting to us in trying to understand that difference and how to handle it.  It doesn’t get to the heart of everything.  It doesn’t offer strategies.  Laws aren’t strategies.  There is still some mysticism with diversity.  If we extend diversity and marry it with the concept of cultural intelligence, especially when working in a global world, we can develop strategies and broader, better behaviors to handle that diversity.  Remember these are my interpretations of my own readings and research.  Don’t take it as face value.  What kind of Socratic professor would I be, if I didn’t ask you to think for yourself.  Read, digest, understand and reflect.

Culture today is so much greater, broader in definition than what some might think.

This is when I tell you that I hate definitions.  I think they are limiting.  I don’t think they encompass the expanse of variety that exists.  Yes, we need a foundation on which to start.  But how many of us stop and do not explore the many layers, the breadth and depth of those definitions. Culture is one of those definitions.  That is why later on in the semester we will be examining Cultural Intelligence.

The discussion continues…

Footnotes

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.).

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

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!

Everything in life is negotiable…

Everything in life is negotiable…

Everything in life is negotiable…

Not necessarily.

Negotiation or the act of negotiation is an art form.  Some would argue that life is nothing but black and white.  I would then ask that person, when was the last time you noticed the range of colors around you.

Colorful pens
I love my pens

Spring break is upon us, and the week will be spending time catching up and reading several new books on event management that just crossed my desk, trying to organize the event management curriculum.  After break, we start in on the financial side of international meeting planning and then, negotiation.

Negotiation starts with research.  You need to know the person, the company, or the destination that you are dealing with.  You can’t go blindly into the negotiation room without understanding all the nuances and laws.  You can’t design an event without knowing all of the stakeholders and their needs, their wants.  Or you need to have the right team behind you to accomplish the goal.

Know yourself and your limitations.  You can’t be an expert at everything.

Construct an extensive profile of your stakeholders, the country in which you will operate in order to ask the right questions.

Do not think that what you did in your home country in terms of negotiation will work in other countries.  Keep an open mind, and do your research into the cultural norms of your host country.

Test those people you hire to aid you in the process.  Don’t blindly trust any liaison and think that they are the right person for the job.  Do background checks.  Ask for past clients to gain testimonials.

Especially overseas.  The legal maze is just as complicated, if not more so than at home.  Again, know thy self and your limitations.

So I am considering bringing ethics into the debate as well as cultural intelligence.

There are ten ethical considerations in hospitality/tourism managers (from Jaszay and Dunk (2006) Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry, p2-3):

  1. Honesty:  Hospitality managers are honest and truthful.  They do not mislead or deceive others by misrepresentations.
  2. Integrity:  Hospitality managers demonstrate the courage of their convictions by doing what they know is right even when there is pressure to do otherwise
  3. Trustworthiness:  Hospitality managers are trustworthy and candid in applying information and in correcting misapprehensions of fact.  They do not create justifications for escaping their promises and commitments.
  4. Loyalty:  Hospitality managers demonstrate loyalty to their companies in devotion to duty, and loyalty to colleagues by friendship in adversity.  They avoid conflicts of interest; don not use or disclose confidential information; and should they accept other employment they respect the proprietary information of their former employer.
  5. Fairness:  Hospitality managers are fair and equitable in all dealings; they do not arbitrarily abuse power; nor take undue advantage of another’s mistakes or difficulties.  They treat all individuals with equality, with tolerance and acceptance of diversity, and with an open mind.
  6. Concern and respect for others: Hospit­ality managers are concerned, respec­tful, compas­sio­nate, and kind. They are sensitive to the personal concerns of their colleagues and live the Golden Rule. They respect the rights and interests of all those who have a stake in their decisions.
  7. Commitment to Excellence: Hospit­ality managers pursue excellence in performing their duties and are willing to put more into their job than they can get out of it.
  8. Leadership: Hospit­ality managers are conscious of the respon­sib­ility and opport­unities of their position of leader­ship. They realize that the best way to instill ethical principles and ethical awareness in their organi­zations is by example. They walk their talk!
  9. Reputation and Morale: Hospit­ality managers seek to protect and build the company’s reputation and the morale of its employees by engaging in conduct that builds respect. They also take whatever actions are necessary to correct or prevent inappr­opriate conduct of others.
  10. Accountability:  Hospit­ality managers are personally accoun­table for the
    ethical quality of their decisions, as well as those of their subord­inates.

The question is how these 10 principles can be a launching pad for successful negotiations.  Students need a foundation on which to start.  Therefore, they will need an extensive understanding of their own self, and where they stand within these boundaries to effectively work with others.  If there is commitment to these principles, then those students can progress successfully through the negotiation process.

Our department has designed five core values that complement and mirror these ten principles (Dictionary.com)

  • Respect:  a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
  • Diversity: the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization
  • Servant Leadership: Caring for people
  • Integrity:  the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness
  • Innovate: the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods

The last innovate extends those initial principles.  That we must go further and farther in our efforts to understand.  To gain a greater awareness about the whole process, and not just one aspect, one point.  To gain a greater awareness of the world in which we operate in.  You can’t develop a plan of action; be aware of potential problems without opening yourself up to learn, to broaden current skill set.  To ask the right questions.  Don’t make assumptions, especially when working in an international arena.  You’ll fall short.

Excellent article on 6 Steps to a Successful International Meeting

 

Daily Prompt: Underground

Daily Prompt: Underground
Buchanan Street Metro
Buchanan Street Underground in Glasgow, Scotland.

The other day, as I was driving home, I was contemplating all the states and cities I have lived in to this point.  My bags have been packed numerous times, moving between seven different states, their cities, and one country.  The average length of time I have spent in any one city is seven years.  Typical of someone who works in this industry.  We are constantly moving.  The early years of my career–especially one year– I moved nine times.

I didn’t grow up in a city with an underground.  We really couldn’t have one, due to the fact Johnstown was settled on a flood plain and water was a constant threat no matter what time of year.  It was only in the big cities where I encountered an Underground.  But Underground in tourism can mean a host of different things.  Transportation aside, the movement from point A to point B, undergrounds have been known to be tourist attractions unto themselves.  Anyone who loves to people watch, should take a circuit on a metro.  It is a wealth of fodder for writing.

Insecurities

But there is more than people.  When I lived in Boston or Washington, DC or Glasgow, there was always activities going on about these centers.  People would play music, sing, trying to capture loose change from commuters.

Music at the Underground
Music at the Underground. Buchanan Street Metro Stop, Glasgow, Scotland.

The metro is a way station for the movement of people. A stop-gap in everyday life. My first semester in Glasgow, was my first indoctrination into the football (footie) culture and their fans pouring out of the metro on their way to matches. The atmosphere was electric, and I was easily swept up in the excitement. Not unlike our American football games in the states. There is nothing like encountering Red Sox fans on their way to Fenway Park! Love that big, green wall.

Crazy Belgians Belgians Footie fans

The Underground is also full of history.  In tourism, we examine the historical timeline of development.  How we went from walking on two feet in search of food (and yes that is a part of tourism) to the complex infrastructure we have today. The Underground is a historical marker as well as a museum of information, both underground and above.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
St George at St. George’s Cross Underground

They are places to mark the passage of time and illustrate a vibrancy of living and dying.

Urban ExplorerBotanical Gardens Abandon Underground in Glasgow, Scotland

There is such a tourism market segment devoted to abandon places. We slip it into historical and dark tourism. Wanting to find that elusive piece in a complex puzzle to understand how life works.  They are a canvase conveying a sense of identity; a sense of self.  It also begs the question, ‘if you build it will they come?’.

Grand Central Terminal - Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Secret Train 

FDR’s secret underground tunnel and train car

And yet, keeping with tourist themes and life’s reality check, underground doesn’t necessarily mean transportation.  What you see today of Edinburgh was built upon, in some parts, older structures and vaults.  People actually lived there, and they have turned these old parts of the city into tourist attractions.  They represent cultural norms regulated to history.  They are their own landscape.  They represent a journey.  That there is life cycle in everything.

So the underground represents life, represents places to develop and utilize in the tourist space.  They have a history.  They are our own history. They are the current and the past, and represents the movement of time.  They are markers, canvases, and concert halls.

Underground
via Daily Prompt: Underground

Daily Prompt: Border (s) mean so much in tourism

Daily Prompt: Border (s) mean so much in tourism

The Johnstown Flood Memorial/ St. Michael, PA #SouthForkFishingHuntingClub #SouthForkDam #JohnstownFloodof1889The Johnstown Flood Memorial/ St. Michael, PA #SouthForkFishingHuntingClub #SouthForkDam #JohnstownFloodof1889

Border (s) exist on a map, in different geographic markings, and man-made signs to denote a boundary.  In tourism, boundaries are blurred more today than 100 years ago.  As tourist we are constrained only by the regulations to move from one place to another.  Most countries have some form of visa requirements, and yet, as an educator, I teach that boundaries or borders are not insurmountable.  Anything is possible.

Yet, the question of migration is constant note of debate in today’s society.  That borders should be freely open and allow for that migration.  We try to have a reasonable discourse in my classes.  But more so drill down to the core reasons, the SWOT of migration, of tourism in a greater context.

I have an intercultural competency or as I prefer a cultural intelligence assignment in most of my classes.  I tweak it for the different levels.  In my intro class, I begin to open the windows and doors to the vast global world, allow the students to peer out into the broader spectrum, and start the dialogue.  Most of the students, if not all, have a passport and have utilized it.  Some of have not.  But even with their experience, the question remains how much do they really know about the cultures in which they interact with?

At the beginning of the semester, the first couple of weeks, I try to articulate that they are, for their current position on the life cycle, at a limited awareness of the dynamic and complex relationship of the world.  Tourism fosters a movement from a limited awareness to a greater awareness, even if it is traveling from the middle of no where into a bigger, and broader context like a city.  Diversity of the population is far more substantial in the city than in the middle of no where.  They are exposed to more cultural norms.

So borders aren’t just lines on a map, marking the boundary between countries.  Borders can be, may be that demarcation line of change.  Where we step off into something more, and become something more.  That precipice that requires of leap of faith to overcome the fear of doing something.  Of testing yourself and expanding your understanding.  To shedding the shackles of a myopic viewpoint, and opening up oneself to knowledge.  Ignorance breeds fear.  Knowledge gains an understanding.

Tourism is a vehicle for change.  And yet there is always another side of the argument.  The movement of people has a negative impact on infrastructures.  We can’t have this debate without understanding the implications of acculturation, tourism area life cycle or TALC, carrying capacity, spatial segregation, and cultural homogenization.  Planning is key.

Host communities must question the impact on their local identities and quality of life.  Resources and the sustainability of a destination must be examined in order to maintain a balance.  If those resources diminish beyond what the area can handle, then the destination has reached its carrying capacity.  You will see a negative impact on the three environments – natural/man-made,  economic, and socio-cultural.  Basic needs will not be met, and people will suffer.  The infrastructure will begin to deteriorate and impact will be exponential, until a point has been reach, when movement lessens and an area can begin to recover.  If saturation has been reached, or even exceeded for any length of time, resources will disappear completely.  Movement will stop, economic vitality will diminish and the destination will enter a stagnation or decline on the tourism area life cycle or TALC.

Border (s) have so many meanings in tourism, and I have only hinted on a host of thoughts.  The final comment, if a destination is to continue, hard questions need to be asked.

 

via Daily Prompt: Border

“Heritage is a thoroughly modern concept” *…

“Heritage is a thoroughly modern concept” *…

Heritage is a thoroughly modern concept ~ McCrone, Morris and Kiely (1995, p. 1)

As McCrone, Morris and Kiely assert in their seminal work on Scotland – the Brand: The Making of Scottish Heritage (1995), heritage as we know it today is not the same concept of heritage from hundreds of years ago. The depictions of plaids, and other Scottish icons can be traced back to the early 19th century (1822), to Sir Walter Scott’s pageantry of King George IV’s visit to Scotland. Scott was well ahead of his time regarding the marketing of a destination. He put Scotland on the map with his writings and romanticism of the country. I can’t blame him for he is reacting to the historical events that happened in the late 17th and 18th century that stripped the country of its pride and self-identity. I would say those events, to a degree, bent but didn’t break the country. If anything those events helped to make it stronger.  This isn’t the first time I revisit the discussion of ‘manufactured’ tourism.

Let’s revisit Starz Outlander. Don’t get tired; this is a great show to demonstrate concepts, even the ‘built’ world of writers, and the film/tv industry. Saturday night was episode 210: Prestonpans was aired, and of course, I visited the subsequent talks on social media on Saturday, and Sunday. Of course, some of the chatter had to do with Bonnie Prince Charlie’s wardrobe.

Outlander Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie, Outlander Season 2, episode 210; ©2016

Some of the fans were arguing over what tartan he was wearing. Some thought it was the Wallace tartan; others weren’t sure. Whatever they utilized in the show, I would hazard a guess that there is host of historical inaccuracies. Again, what makes for good television. Any tartan or plaid we have today is a manufacture representation traced back to that demarcation line when Scott created the icons for Scotland.

Bonnie_Prince_Charlie_by_John_Pettie
Bonnie_Prince_Charlie_by_John_Pettie

This is one of my favorite paintings of the Prince by Pettie and is in the Royal Collection. Pettie lived from 1834-1893, in the age of romanticism. The Prince is wearing the Prince Charles Edward Stuart tartan. The Prince is emerging into the light of Holyrood Palace after taking Edinburgh in the early days of the ’45. If this tartan had any historical accuracy, which it may or may not, then the tartan used by the wardrobe on the show has thoroughly got it wrong. But more importantly, these two depictions demonstrate the concept of modern heritage.

I am amused by the show. Heck, I just watch it to hear the accents and see the beautiful scenery, and it does have a great storyline. The acting is well done, but I cringe every time for the bastardization of representations of heritage and historical events. I know, let it go, it’s just entertainment. Usually, I do several days later. I have to remember what Beveridge and Turnbull, 1989 stipulated in their works. That the truth of Scottish cultural is that mystical entity that has been ‘eclipsed’ over time. That we will not truly know the genuine character and can only ‘create’ our own interpretations. McCrone, Morris, and Kiely argue that Scottish heritage and its associated icons are malleable. That they are distorted and susceptible to interpretation.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and James Fraser
Bonnie Prince Charlie and James Fraser, Starz Outlander Season 2, EP 210 Prestonpans ©2016

The romanticism of Scotland is a glamorous depiction of historical events. And I have to say makes for great entertainment. Students you must dig past this glamorous representation, do your homework, find primary sources and research for yourself the truth behind destinations. Understand how history, those that influence the development of tourism and its associated marketing to understand how we can differentiate one destination from another. To benchmark against those that are successful and those that are not. Scotland is successful in its marketing efforts and has Scott to thank for that. Tourism is one of the leading industries that aid that countries economic vitality. Go further, farther in your examination to understand just what heritage is, and how it supports a country and its tourism products.

Should we even get into a discussion about authenticity? Maybe next time.