As a researcher…

As a researcher…

Numbers…yesterday I saw a post on Facebook from a few fellow researchers about research methods, and design.  It was an old debate about experimentation, utilizing either quantitative or qualitative methods.  It brought back memories of grad school in the 1990s when I was working on my Masters.  Friday afternoons were devoted to seminar, and discussion.  And I can remember the heated, feisty debates, and it always seemed one gender against another.  There was the rock solid numbers on one side, and narrative on another.  At least in my mind now, that is what I recall.

Where was I at that time?  Arguing for mix-methods, for a triangulation of methods because one supported the other, and vice versa.  I knew from my methods courses that the prominent and preferred design, aka quantitative (especially in the USA), couldn’t get at the heart of explaining phenomenon.  I questioned drawing generalizations and affixing them to a general population.  To this day, numbers in this sense, can only describe that specific sample, unless the sample is so large that it can explain behavior of a greater whole.  But how big does that sample have to be?  Again, the debate continues to this day.

For some reason something clicked in my mind back then, and the ambiguity, to a degree, clarified.  Everything fell into place, and uncertainty diminished.  (Ironic using terms associated with statistics…isn’t it…)


Quantitative methods exist in time and space.  Numbers confine you to a particular snapshot of behaviors.  They are myopic, and lack flexibility.  They really don’t get at the heart of understanding.  You’re locked in a box, not of your own making, or perhaps it is, and the walls have no give, or even a door, to allow you to explore beyond all those walls.  Intuitively, you know that there is something that lies beyond your self-imposed entrapment, but your stuck.  Numbers have more finite qualities than you think, even if we go to that largest number possible.  There is always more…always more.

Whoa, Einstein, you’ve placed a picture of physics equations up there hot shot…come on…explain.

You know the symbol for infinity?  ∞, the one that is usually associated with numbers.  Yeah that one. 

Well, way back in eleventh grade chemistry I stumped Mr. Lantz when he was trying to discuss the atom.  I remember sitting there listening, and then raising my hand, as probably a host of students do at this point, and asked, “What else?”

He looked at me quizzically, and I repeated the question.  “You’ve given us all the parts, but what makes up them?”

He tried to answer, and I still shot back, “And what makes up that?”

Trying not to sound like a broken record here, but you get the gist.  I was the two-year old asking the ‘but why’ question.  Frustration thickened the air, and I can still see Mr. Lantz’s red face.

Back to .  The universe innately has that complexity.  We don’t know if it exists beyond a certain point.   We assume so, and affix that darn symbol.  It’s the best explanation we’ve got so far.  We don’t know beyond a certain boundary, even at the micro levels, or the inner spaces at the neutron level, the nano level.  And to me infinity is not a number.  It is that complexity that exist beyond the confines of numbers.  It is the unanswered questions.  It breaks the walls apart and gives flexibility to what could be a concrete form.

It allows us to imagine, and envision potentiality beyond normalcy.  Beyond what we do know.  It is answers, and more importantly it is questions.  It reaches the fringes of the mind, and reverts back to its starting point to tease out currents of thought, and devise explanations.  Sometimes the simplicity of the answer is hidden in the complexity of the question.

It demonstrated the connections, and the elasticity of integration, interfacing ideas.  It is a window, exposing the landscapes beyond the walls that we might dare to explore, and see that we may have just skimmed the surface of potential.

Okay, back to my original thought.  Research has to be more.  It has to be more than just quantitative methods.  But a triangulation of methods that exposes the soft underbelly of thought.  That gets to the heart of hypotheses, but more importantly, breaks the walls, and sees farther, further than what one method allows.  That there is breadth, depth to explaining phenomenon that numbers can’t explain alone.

Nothing is concrete.  There is too much dynamic functionality to this world to compartmentalized or even marginalize.

So the debate continues…

What about tomorrow….

What about tomorrow….

I just got back from ICHRIE in St. Louis, MO and technology was a big part of the conference.  I found one video that encapsulates what I have been telling my lodging students for the past 7 years here at Eastern.  As well as the students I had in Glasgow.  Technology will enable us to greater proficiency, effectiveness and efficiency.  Traditional values will return, evolved into a higher art form.  Personalized service will take on greater depth with the application and integration of technology applications, both platforms and software.  We will not be tied to a machine, to one place.  Marshall McLuhan’s postulate that ‘technology will be an extension of ourselves’ will be realized.

In one of the novels I have just finished, technology is one of the support characters and plays an important role in catching the bad guy.  One line I wrote:

The movement of his eyes had the document scroll upward so he had uninterrupted viewing.

The hero has set his SMART phone down on a sink and has projected his emails up onto the mirror above the vanity.  He uses his eyes to scroll through his messages as he hastily scans the information.  His cousin has developed this app that highlights key words so the hero’s brain can process the information faster, filling in the blanks and leaving him with no question about what is said.  It is taking the acronyms used in texting to a new level, utilizing the power of the brain to formulate patterns of decisive thought using the visual dexterity that it is capable of.  These thoughts of mine are based on Human-Computer Interaction theory.

The future of technology and innovation
The future of technology and innovation

I really feel that the next few years will see an exponential growth of interfacing our day-to-day activities, physical and psychological, with that of machines.  Design and use will be more transparent given cultural specifics.  We will truly extend our abilities, capabilities by extending ourselves into our environments.  We will be linked physically into our environments, physical, natural, economic and social even more so.

Do I see a future as portrayed in movies such as iRobot?  Will the machine become more?  Yes, I do see it becoming more and I do see a time when the machine will have a brain.  Independent thought, yes.  Will they become a new species?  A new culture?  Sure.  When, I can’t pinpoint an exact moment.  But we are all evolving, immersing ourselves within this new cultural environment.

More later….

Mapped out the Dragon Fly Effect for upcoming conference

Mapped out the Dragon Fly Effect for upcoming conference

Presenting on multi-media and hyper-media use in the classroom at the Educational Academy at ICHRIE in St. Louis, MO this July and so, as per my usual, had to map out my ideas for creating an innovative culture. This mind map addressed the three prong approach of collaboration, communication and critical/creative thinking.  Wish me luck!

Don’t throw the bath water out just yet…

Don’t throw the bath water out just yet…
Innovative culture part of the bigger mind map
Innovative culture part of the bigger mind map

Signed up for a course in the fall from the free database at Coursera called Creativity, Innovation and Change.  I am a stickler for innovation.  A friend and co-worker commented the other day about my use of mind-mapping that she had never heard of it before I arrived at my current local, job.  I am  not surprised by this, not many do use visual methods to solve problems.  I have always been a visual thinker and my parents can attest to that, having sneaked a box of crayons into my cot when I was a wee lassie and went Picasso all over my sheets.

I am envious, jealous, irritated, frustrated and astounded by the various forms of innovative techniques out there.  Again, choice I think has something to do with it.  I revert back to Marshall Mcluhan and Joseph Campbell when my brain goes into overload and is on the verge of ‘cracking’ as I call it.  That moment where you have a million thoughts going through your head and ‘bam’, like the computer, on overload, freezes and reboots.  I just can’t extract any more information or possible solutions without some means of shut down or stepping away, letting the thoughts incubate.

Maybe I should call it ‘fracking’?  I know the word is used by petroleum engineers to illustrate how water or fluids are forced into fissures in rocks to open them up further to extract oil and natural gas.  But think about it, are we not using innovation to open the cracks in the mind to allow for cognitive and reflective thought to illuminate various answers to problems.  If we want to be proactive in our thoughts about potential problems, would fracking be better term.  Does fracking have to be solely used by engineers?  This harkens back to my students and engaging them with the information that I know is embedded in their minds from four years of university.  How do I tap into those brain cells and open them up so that they can articulate their knowledge?

How do I challenge, push them to their limits to put to the test what they have gained?  I can see it in a few; how some have gone from a limited awareness to a greater awareness and employ that knowledge in written assignments.  But still, I need them to execute that knowledge.  Hence, frustration and irritation in myself.  “God, grant me patience but hurry.”

Another reasons why I have them examine my ‘Big Mind Map‘ and offer up their opinions.  I ask them if they can see the relationships?  Can they see the interplay of subject matter?  How can they use their own creativity to address problems that would slow down or create stagnation within the business environment?  It is not just about book learning, but about them going further, farther in their interpretation and application.  Why I have told them about this free course.

I want to, for a better word, push them over that precipice into a newer realm of thinking.

Podcast: The Business Environment

Podcast:  The Business Environment

Podcast: The Business Envirnoment

The Business Environment Podcast from B. A. Pudliner on Vimeo.

Podcast of lecture on the Business Environment

is a podcast about the business environment that I made back in 2008 for my classes.  To follow along, download the Powerpoint:  Podcast Powerpoint for business environment .

Transcript for Business Environment Podcast

Reflection…short and long-term thinking.

Reflection…short and long-term thinking.
Tourism Business Environment
Tourism Business Environment, depicting the functions of management and innovation

Sometimes, I feel like I’m constantly in the dental chair.  (Nothing against dentists, but it is not my favorite place to be, even with the sonic cleaning tools.)

It is a challenge to engage the students in strategic thinking, to discuss the overall short and long term impacts on a business as well as the industry.  Monday’s are especially hard; hard for anyone including myself.  You just don’t want to think.  But you have to, you have to be on your game, at point from the moment you wake up.

I created these mind maps to help my students understand constructs that I discuss in class, even in other classes they have outside of hospitality.  I’m trying to understand if these maps even work.  I am a visual thinker and I wonder if my students are?  I pose questions, give them case scenarios from experience, trends, ‘in the news’ to try to stimulate their grey matter. For instance, what will happen if there is the slights fraction of change in percentages, money, information and so forth–what happens to the business?  What will happen to the employees?  What will happen to the company?  What will happen to all the stakeholders?  How will revenues and profits suffer?  They need to make the connections to the various contact points and beyond.  And then return.  Common sense stipulates that for every action, there is a reaction which will lead to a result that will lead to another action.  It’s a continuous cycle of events.  Clichés aside we are never off the merry-go-round.

So I was questioning my diagrams.  Asking myself what am I missing?  Where are the gaps?  I ask the students to examine and offer up possible changes.  That happened in Monday’s ethics.  I had the epiphany through their conversations that maybe there is an eleventh principle, responsibility.  This is similar to accountability, concern and respect for others but still has specific connotations that might warrant inclusion.

Still thinking….

Observations on Applebee’s.

Observations on Applebee’s.
A snippet of a bigger picture
Mind-map of business environment, main drivers information, promises, money both tangible and intangible

Well, I guess I am weighing in on the Applebee’s fiasco.  I teach Hospitality Ethics and this is making for a great case study from various points of view.

First, if you haven’t read the article or the complete story, you need to do some research.  I have to admit the media today is not well favored in their reporting.  Yahoo (and here) reported on the incident as it was percolating across the social media spectrum.  Make sure you go to the original Reddit posting and look at the image that was posted.  There are other tangible evidence that there might be different versions of the check image, one with the complete signature.  Also, there is evidence of posting other customer signatures when service execution goes above and beyond.   Again, a whole mess of evidence that even at this blog posting, I am still weighing and how to trawl through.

I won’t tell you the whole story but management, the person involved expresses that it comes down to an argument of privacy.  Or does it?

There are ten principles in hospitality ethics (Jaszay & Dunk, 2006; Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry; pg 2-3; Pearsons):

  1. Honesty
  2. Integrity
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Loyalty
  5. Fairness
  6. Concern and Respect for others
  7. Commitment to Excellence
  8. Leadership
  9. Reputation and Morale
  10. Accountability

Now our industry as with any other is driven by information, money and promises, both intangible and tangible.  They are funneled into a dynamic and traditional exchange environment and the industry business’s then execute effective and efficient management functions, processes in order to maximize revenue and profits, in order to reward and reinvest in our stakeholders and the firm, respectively.  I have talked about social contract theory as well as psychological contracts in that they may or may not be articulated or even in writing as part of the exchange of goods and services.

This case highlights the pitfalls and failures, the good, the bad of service encounters, service execution.  There are a host of questions that I will pose to my students to think about.  This brings to mind the social media backlash against Darden and Olive Garden.  There is also the demonstrated pitfalls of social media in delivering instantaneous information to make headlines.  The ramifications on service, social responsibility, employee relations and fiscal responsibility.  There are a host of answers good and bad.

And not just privacy is an issue here, but the tipping, gratuity policy of restaurants.  Recently, given today’s economy, many customers are questioning a restaurants right to automatically charge a gratuity for large parties.  Yet, there are arguments for and against this.  How many customers really understand how a restaurant runs?  How many understand the nature of waiting on customers; a restaurant server’s pay, paying scale and so forth.  What about the customer’s responsibility?  Is the customer always right?  What about the autonomy of managers, their empowerment to manage a business?   How will this hurt Applebee’s brand?  How will Applebee’s weather the storm?  What are the effects on social media?

I could go on.  This could turn into a lengthy post but needless to say, 50 minutes of class time might not be enough for this topic