Too big for your britches…

Too big for your britches…
Empower your employees, don't rule over them
Empower your employees, don’t rule over them

Some companies are complex, highly diverse workplaces with a lot of people to manage.  A host of different departments to oversea a multitude of tasks.  You can’t negate the fact that companies and their departments, their divisions have territorial tendencies.

Cue Elf:  Buddy (Will Ferrell) in mail room.

Buddy (Will Ferrell) in the mail room.
Buddy (Will Ferrell) in the mail room.

That scene from Elf and others, hint at the reality that is our workforce and its continued hierarchical, top down approach.  Very rare is it a company that has a bottom up approach.  You can say it, you can articulate it, you can communicate that you do, but if it isn’t readily apparent, it is all just glossy shine on the outside and misery on the inside.  Case in point.  I won’t mention any names or companies.  A few years ago, I was with a host of friends enjoying a welcome respite from the day-to-day.  Eventually, our conversation turned to work.  This person was a bit down in the dumps, and I asked why?  They hadn’t received the commission they normally received during the holidays.  This was during the hard time of the 2006-2009 recession. I asked them to explain.  Apparently, during the previous get together by all staff for their annual party, the company had to downsize the festivities.  Usually, everyone got a bonus, even those non-sales jobs.  The previous year the company decided to discontinue these bonuses to all of their employees, except their sales staff.  Someone found out, and complained.  Long story short.  Someone felt cheated.   A person who didn’t work in sales and didn’t receive a commission went to the powers that be and called them on it.  Times were tough too and the company decided maybe it was better not to give anything out.  I asked a few probing questions of my friend.  Needless to say, we didn’t talk for a few weeks after it.

I’ve worked in an industry for regular hourly pay, salary, and salary and bonuses.  More than likely it was a turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Sometimes a gift card.  Not much, but I was grateful.  It helped.  All the Christmas parties were the same.  A few had raffles of cool prizes.  But our management staff wanted any bonuses or extra pay to be equal for all.  We worked as a team in hotels.  Everyone is rewarded for their hard work.  It may not have been much, but it was something. Sometimes a word or your name on a plaque got us through the hard times.  So back to my friend.

I asked the person to put their feet in the shoes of the individual in that ‘mail room’.  They may not have the education you have or the experience or the job title, but they do the same hard work as everyone else.  Interruption by my friend, saying that their job wasn’t equal.  No, they aren’t equal, but they still do hard work.  Define work.  What is work?  What is their job duties?  Could you do their job?  Do you know how to do their job?  They do their job for minimum wage or just a bit above.  Shouldn’t they be rewarded for their devotion just as much as you.  They came back with the argument that their job captured revenues for the business that allowed those in the mail room to be paid so that they could put food on the table, pay their bills.  Yes, I agreed.  Yet, if they didn’t do their job or aid you in doing yours, you couldn’t close on a deal with the delivery of that parcel with important signed contracts.  You couldn’t do your job without the delivery of office supplies.  You couldn’t do your job without them running their butts around town, when you had to get a contract out yesterday.  You couldn’t do your job if they didn’t fulfill that order made.  The two jobs are linked.

They again argued about working hard and about revenues.  I asked, “Is it?  Are revenues the only important detail of a company?”

The look they gave me could cut glass in two.

I smiled.  “It isn’t always about the bottom line.  It isn’t always about making a profit.  Sure profits are important and we do need to pay bills, but we cannot get to that profit without thinking and addressing the process and people who get us to that profit.  If one cog in the wheel isn’t working up to its effective and efficient potential, the system slows down and could possibly stagnate.  It could cease to exist.  Your job is linked to the way that mail room, those people feel and work.  Think you are far superior to them, that your job is more important, then you’ve lost sight of the reason to be in business.”

“How is that?”  They snorted.

“This is about the relationships you make and continue.  This is about long-standing relationships today and tomorrow.”

“Sure my customers are important.”

“Then who are your customers?”

“Huh?”

“Who are your stakeholders?”

“My customers.”

Holding off the desire to face plant my cheeks in my palms, I continued.  “We could go on and on asking the same question.  You do not understand your customers, your stakeholders.  This is about relationships.  If we do not create, nurture and maintain those relationships, our business will stagnate and decline.  This is about all of your stakeholders.  One of your stakeholders is that person in the mail room.  They have a vested interest in the health of the firm.  Not just the sales person that makes sales calls.  Did you ever ask that person in the mail room how they feel?  Did you ever say hi, greet them on your way into work?  Say good-bye on your way out?  Did you ever stop and ask them about their families?”

They hesitated, and I had my answer.  No or very rarely.

“Did you ever think that they are just as grateful as you are for the job they have?  That they can work for a company that even considers giving them a party and a bonus.  Not every company so rewards their devoted employees.”

As the book stipulates:

I think that is something else with the people-process culture: . . . you get to know people. The people get to know each other” ( J. Cernohous, personal communication, July 25, 2014).
Kersten EdD SPHR, Jeanette; La Venture EdD, Kelly. The Human Factor to Profitability: Building a People-Centered Culture for Long-Term Success (Kindle Locations 658-659). River Grove Books. Kindle Edition.

And the discussion went on.  What am I saying?

Employees should be engaged in their workplace.  That they need to feel and be a part of that team.  Not stranded in some oasis, ignored.  Again, I argue for that point that all of us see and process information differently.  We all have a unique point of reality.  Sometimes the finer details are uncovered with fresh eyes.  Don’t discount the person on the front lines.  You need to consider their input.

 

 

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.).

Defining People Process Culture ~ Organizational Culture.

Defining People Process Culture ~ Organizational Culture.
Organizational Culture by dessinauteur at Flickr
https://flic.kr/p/p2KrM7

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.

Functions of Management
Functions of Management

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?

Action-Reaction-Result Loop
Action-Reaction-Result Loop

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.).
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

Location, Location, Location…

Location, Location, Location…
Ford's Theatre
Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC

I have lived in a host of different cities, states and one country.  The depth of knowledge about those locations various with experience.  I love to get out and talk to people, and I’ve met some interesting people along the way.  I love to explore and more than likely will get lost.  I always find my way back.  Every experiences brings a whole new set of learning.

Another year is upon us here at Stout, and I’m teaching Development of Tourism Attractions, Convention Meeting Planning and People Process Culture.  The former course expands and expounds on concepts learned in the Principles of Tourism, extending it into the heart of the three environments–socio-cultural, economic and natural/man-made as well motivation, and planning.

It peels back the layers of tourism.  Tourism is an act of doing something and depends on the viewpoint in which you view it or peel back the layers.  There are tangible and intangible elements that are part of this dynamic process, and we need to know why some destinations and their attractions are more successful than others.  As leaders or managers of the future, we will be part of that success and/or failure.  What we do, when we do it, could be a defining moment.  (For those of you in tourism, remember the mantra.)

At the heart of any attraction is a motivation.

Echoes of those reasons why people travel to a destination and its attractions, percolates through my mind, and I’m sure others.

“Something I always wanted to see.”

“It is on my bucket list.”

But that is from a customer point of view.  What about the others?

Why did Disney decide to buy up a large mass of swamp land and orange groves in the middle of Florida to create Disney World?

Why place it there?  Why create something in the middle of no where, and hope that people come?

Begs the question posed in A Field of Dreams:  “If you build it, will them come?”

The process of building attractions is long and arduous.  It takes time to build attractions from concept of the idea to opening.  Disney World was conceived as a supplement to Disneyland in 1955 and opened in 1971.  During that time of development, Walt Disney died unexpectantly in 1966.  Disney World and especially Epcot could have died right there on the table.  But it didn’t, and more on that later.  Yet, that is a long time for an attraction to be built.  Some rise in less time, and close just as fast.  The Internet is peppered with a host of attractions that opened and closed quickly because they couldn’t sustain numbers or creativity.  Walt Disney World has several areas that have been closed and abandoned because they weren’t as popular as they once were.

Visit to Disney World, 1977
From left to right, Mom, sister, me and brother at Walt Disney World, 1977

So, this hints at one aspect of motivation and decision-making.

Even leadership (Waves at my PPC group, bringing them into the conversation).

Your stakeholder’s needs change over time.  All of them.

But who are your stakeholders you ask, besides customers.

  1. Customers
  2. Employees (all levels)
  3. Governments
  4. Financial
  5. Host Community
  6. Others (that arm-chair traveler that hasn’t even made a decision yet, but is bombarded with a mountains of information both by word of mouth, and through other distribution channels and has an interest)

Their needs and wants will change over time as their lives change.  It can be short or long-term.

Disney World’s Epcot Center is now going through a major renovation.  The original vision of Epcot is a far cry than what Walt had in mind.  That vision was transformed because he wasn’t there and those that came after, nixed it in the butt.  Roy Disney, his brother, wasn’t the creative genius that Walt was and deferred to others.  If you read any books about Walt’s life and his company, his creative style and visions were a prime directive for the company.  To lose someone so young in their mid-60s, without a concrete succession plan, will have far reaching effects on the company.  And it did.

An attraction is just a structure.  An idea.

People make it come to life.

Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog
Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog

People are the resource that propel it into the future.

Even destinations and their success depends on the people who manage it, work within the boundaries, and even visit.

So, this then suggest a management/educational journey down two different paths.

At times these paths, one of tangible origins and one of intangible, coalesce and merge.  At other times, they run parallel.  And during times of stress, anxiety, and erosion, diverge.

So, we are at the precipice.  On top of the mountain and have a vista to explore.  We can see the concrete but the human element is clouded in degrees of mystery.

Let’s begin…

 

Scenario based learning

Scenario based learning
Sense of Identity
Sense of Identity

Learning a new process, concept, or theory isn’t easy. People learn in different ways. I can remember 6th grade with vivid detail, especially math class. I have always been good with numbers. A few weeks ago I was sitting with my Mom and we were going over some of her accounting. She was astounded that I could rattle off sequences of numbers or amounts without looking at my notes. I don’t know why. I just can ‘see’ them.  But word problems at that time, stumped my young brain.  Until, I drew out what was being asked on paper into a cartoon.  I wasn’t approaching the problem correctly for my brain.  I wasn’t asking myself the question:  What is the problem asking me to do?  I was looking for the numbers to crunch.  I was fixated on the numbers.  I knew I had to calculate something, but there was more to the puzzle.  I know that now.  I had to visualize what was being asked.

I’m a visual thinker.

Research has shown that we are all visual thinkers (Buzan)

Therefore, grasping knowledge and acquiring understanding, is best ‘seeing’ the process, visualizing the process and actually immersing yourself in the process.

Hence, why I love projects.

And scenario based projects are one way of accomplishing that goal.

 

Student Project Notebook
Student Project Notebook

This semester all of my classes have a form of project, and I will be posting helpful hints here, and in our learning management system to aid them in completion.

  1. The success to any project is not to wait till the last-minute and know that you are the one that needs to complete it.
  2. You are either accomplishing this as an individual or as a group. What does that mean?
  3. Each has a dynamic element.  Know your role and research it.
  4. Thoroughly read over the requirements.  Clarity begins by asking questions.  Don’t assume anything.
  5. There is a formula for the process–the action of completion, but each journey is unique.
  6. Organize!
  7. Budget time.  Don’t wait till the last-minute. I’ve said it twice and that means something.
  8. It is quality, not quantity.
  9. Research to gain factual data.
  10. Examples are great, but this is your original work!
  11. Don’t go in with the attitude that you just have to get it done.  If you put in 50%, more than likely it will be reflected in the work delivered.
  12. This could be used for the future.  Think of it as a tool to demonstrate to potential employers your capabilities and skill level.
  13. Do not let dysfunction ruin working relationships.  I am a mediator and here to help negotiate, navigate the waters.
  14. Keep backup copies in three different places.  Back up often.
  15. Others are counting on you, don’t let them down.

 

 

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!