"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Disney, a hospital, the Urban hotel?

Recently I was handed the book If Disney Ran Your Hospital, 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently by Fred Lee, and told that I absolutely had to read it.  The book was a great read with wonderful stories and examples of why customer service can be so simple and yet so important in a hospital.  Admittedly comparing a hospital to Disney is a bit of a stretch (to say the least); but with a service focus surrounding concepts such as safety and courtesy one can begin to see the connection.  There were indeed wonderful messages and inspiring viewpoints held within its 216 pages, so I found it fascinating that there were slight similarities to the overall discourse of the hotel Urban.  A discourse that at first glance seems to be so ideal; promoting a culture that keenly focuses on perceptions of customers and their experience while allowing for some empowerment of employees to further ensure excellent service.  "Empower yourself to satisfy your guest." A manager was quoted as saying.  I wonder however, as I continue reading will the employees ever truly feel supported in making those empowered decisions?  Poor performance posted on doors for all to see (to embarrass them?), restrictions from fringe benefits (a piece of candy?), the complexity of the language used in documents-documents that were used to express the desired employees' behavior and identities in the hotel.  All of these things appeared to almost convey a sort of social order as opposed to inclusion and support of an ideal culture encouraging of improved performance.  As Hunter describes,  to join the discourse that the hotel portrayed in the documents that were constantly posted, given out, and communicated in various ways; an employee would have to do much more than understand the language used.  For some it could also mean to reconsider the way they dressed, worked and talked.  Wasn't the author herself told she would need to change her dress before she even began there?   While the discourse of Urban and Disney may seem similar on the surface (restrictions of dress, language, etc.), it does provide perhaps some example of the need for greater considerations when instituting such ideals.  While the social may convey the message we seek, will the cultural take aways instill ownership, pride, or empowerment in the employees as we hope?


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  2. What a wonderful coincidence, Holly. I'd love to see the Disney book. And even if the Disney book represents the ideal Discourse, let's not forget that having a strong vision is essential to organizational change. se we can be critical and sympathetic at the same time....Having said that..., I love your connection with the "dark side" of literacy: how it is often used to "reproduce" inequity and restrictions. Also, you are dead on in your recognition of the power of Discourse and how this power works. (We will develop this in the weeks ahead.) Finally, I love your juxtaposing the social and cultural in the last sentence. Even though this is a false dichotomy (in life we can rarely separate the social from the cultural), it is a useful one to help use tease out threads, get below the surface of common sense....


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