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Unabashed Hypocrisy A Dichotomy of Values A Manifesto

By Colin Mustful

Dedicated to the hard working employees of Papa John’s Pizza - past and present. In Memoriam: Champlin Papa John’s

I write to express my concern over the hypocritical business practices of the Papa John’s International Pizza Corporation. This is not a sycophantic appeal. It is merely a means of personal formulation; to take from the good and reconsider the bad; to acknowledge what I have witnessed and utilize from which I can gain. It does not originate from malice or spite, but from misunderstanding and curiosity. I do not understand how a company can be successful through the business practices I have witnessed. It confounds me how the foundation of any such company can be agreed upon and fostered by such immoveable and uncompromising means. Essentially, as I see it, the written and expressed values of Papa John’s Pizza appear to bear little or no significance toward the actual operations of the company. Throughout the following, I wish to present the hypocritical business practices of Papa John’s Pizza. This is not an attempt to reveal those practices, but rather a means to publicize the intentions of Papa John’s Pizza regardless of the necessity to do so. This is a manifesto, not of personal intent, but of personal experience; to express what is done, but which is never said. Before I begin, I will like to establish some credibility. I will not chronicle my entire life with Papa John’s. I could not possibly recall all of it and neither could it be recreated. My story begins in December of 1998 when I was sixteen years old. A Papa John’s Pizza was being built in the new mall in my town. At the time, Papa John’s was a young and growing company in the state of Minnesota. I knew little about the company and had enjoyed their product only one time before. But, I needed a job, and along with my twin brother, I applied at Papa John’s. I was hired quickly and my first day was on December 22, 1998 at Papa John’s in Champlin, Minnesota. I was an “In-store,” which means I was responsible for making pizzas, answering phones, slapping dough, and taking direction from the managers on duty.

Generally I worked short shifts during periods of high business volume. It was the typical job for any high school student. Immediately upon turning eighteen on June 18, 2000, I became a Shift-Leader. My training was limited, but because I had already worked there for one and a half years, I knew my way around. In December of the same year I did undergo Unit 1 Manger Training in order to receive official training for my position. I continued to work as a Shift-Leader at the store in Champlin for my final year of high school and my first year of college. Through my first year of college I returned home every weekend to run shifts. Looking back that was probably a naive decision. For the three years following, my attendance at Papa John’s was much more sporadic. I no longer came home on weekends and I attended school in West Virginia throughout my junior and senior years of college. During this time I only worked at Papa John’s for holiday periods and the summer. I was moved around to many different stores and asked to fill in wherever help was needed. In August 2005 I moved to Mankato, Minnesota, to attend graduate school. In November of that year I obtained employment at the small franchise location in Mankato. The franchise consisted of just two stores. Here I worked as a Shift-Leader from November 2005 until July 2007. I enjoyed my time at this Papa John’s more than any other. I returned to the Twin Cities in July 2007 and I immediately regained employment as a Shift-Leader for Papa John’s in Champlin, Minnesota. In May 2008, I was transferred to the store in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, where I continued as a Shift-Leader. I remained at Columbia Heights until April 2009, when I was temporarily demoted and then transferred to the Papa John’s in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. From April 2009 to July 2009 I 2

worked as a Shift-Leader at White Bear Lake and as a Driver at Columbia Heights. In August of 2009 I was transferred back to Columbia Heights and allowed to resume my position as a Shift-Leader. This remained the same until May 2010 when I voluntarily terminated my position as a Shift-Leader and became a Delivery Driver. I remained at Columbia Heights. I continued to work as a Delivery Driver until March 2011, when I terminated my employment for Papa John’s, presumably forever. However, in September 2011 I returned to Papa John’s. At this time I worked as a Delivery Driver in Columbia Heights and as a Shift-Leader in Champlin. This lasted only a few months and in January 2012 I moved to Washington, DC. Immediately upon moving to Washington I obtained employment as an In-Store at the nearest Papa John’s location. I worked at this store until June 2012 when I terminated my employment in order to travel. It is currently undetermined whether or not I may work for Papa John’s again. I will say that I have always enjoyed my work for Papa John’s no matter where the store or what my position. What I have described so far should bare sufficient witness to my experience with Papa John’s Pizza. I have worked at numerous locations, under numerous managers, supervisors, and district operators, under countless circumstances, with an amalgamation of varying personalities, I have held numerous positions, and have worked within the corporate, small franchise, and large franchise structures. What follows are my observations. I do not wish to overtly determine right or wrong, but I do wish to suggest that there is a right and wrong, both of which I have seen throughout my experience with this company. It is my hope through these observations to arrive at a clearer


picture of what is right and to discover a better, more appropriate way of doing business. The acronym by which Papa John’s operates is known as FASPAC. This stands for: Focus, Accountability, Superiority, People Are Priority Always (PAPA), Attitude, and Constant improvement. This acronym represents the said values of the company at a general, all-encompassing, and macro-level. It is unspecific. It is, at the farthest reaching level, a method of quality control created to instill within all of its team members the company’s core values. I do not seek to debunk FASPAC. I admire the values laid out in the acronym. Furthermore, I believe that Papa John’s, at every level, seeks and succeeds to achieve these values. However, to a larger degree, I believe that Papa John’s alienates itself from these values far too often. Essentially, what I have witnessed through thirteen years of experience is an unabashed hypocrisy to Papa John’s’ core values. I am confused by this hypocrisy because I admire the work, the people, the system, and the success of Papa John’s Pizza. But it is this dichotomy between what the company says and what the company does, that leads to the following essay. Perhaps this dichotomy cannot be reconciled, but it must at least be articulated and then thoughtfully considered.


Focus We begin with Focus. Focus is a vague term that is hard to define. It cannot exactly be quantified or made tangible, therefore it is a challenge to argue whether or not Papa John’s adheres to this principle. I would say here that there exists a certain degree of confusion between “focus” and “getting things done.” Certainly Papa John’s promotes focus in every step of the pizza service process. From start to finish focus is required to do the job and to do it right. However, intertwined with the principle of focus is pressure. There is constant pressure to do things quickly, effectively, and at least cost. Of course, this is necessary and in theory, good. But somehow the hierarchical system of management combined with the statistical system of number monitoring creates a level of pressure great enough to supersede focus. Therefore, focus, where applicable, is jettisoned in favor of getting things done. This becomes most apparent in the common practice of clicking pizzas off the screen early. While pizzas are being prepared, there is a computer monitor that lists each pizza in the order in which it was received. In addition to showing the type of pizza that is to be made, the computer screen also shows the amount of time that has elapsed since the order was originally placed. As a general rule, each pizza is to be made in five minutes or less. Once each pizza is placed in the oven, it is clicked off the screen and the time it took to prepare is recorded in the system as the make-time. Over the course of a day, week, and period, the computer system tracks the average make-time. Management then uses the make-time to draw certain conclusions and to forecast future food and labor needs and goals. In theory, the system works. However, there is pressure from the top to reduce the make-time number to the lowest possible number in order to reflect fast and/or 5

quality service. This is where the hypocrisy exists. On the one hand, upper management stresses that a pizza cannot be clicked off early in an attempt to cheat the system. This standard should be obvious because to cheat the system is to inaccurately reflect labor needs and business trends which then leads to various kinds of errors and miscalculations in the system forecasting models. But, somewhere along the line, whether it is top-to-bottom or side-to-side, this rule becomes overlooked in favor of cheating the system. In other words, pressure trumps focus. Though it is perhaps never spoken, it is understood by most team members that they ought to click the pizza off the screen early. The position which feels the most pressure to act in this manner is the Shift-Leader who is directly responsible for meeting number criteria. The goal then is that the numbers, such as make-time, reflect speed rather than the original value of focus. This pressure for speed and improved numbers has become so inherent that lowerlevel team members constantly engage in the practice of clicking pizzas off early without the slightest idea why or what the consequences might be. They only know that it must be done. This is just one example stated in as concise a manner as possible. There exists innumerable other methods of cheating the system in order to arrive at the ideal numbers. It all stems from pressure that becomes great enough that it is more important than focus. Instead, focus becomes permeated through the hierarchical strain and eventually lost.


Accountability Accountability has become an under-recognized value. So much that often times those who hold others accountable are the ones who become perceived as the wrong-doer. I admire accountability and I believe it carries the greatest importance among the core values of Papa John’s. However, accountability should bring with it communication, understanding, patience, and a certain degree of tact. I would like to exhibit accountability in the Papa John’s system through a personal anecdote. By this anecdote I do not desire to evoke any judgments of character or personal conduct. Nor do I wish to incorporate my entire evaluation of accountability through this one example. This is meant to exhibit the system of accountability as it appears to be reflected throughout the entire company. Let it be noted that I do not accuse Papa John’s of disregarding accountability. It is the manner in which Papa John’s holds its team members accountable that I find problematic. In February 2009, the Papa John’s location in Columbia Heights, at which I worked, was assigned a new District Manager. One afternoon that February during my shift, the new District Manager, along with several other Managers, visited the store in order to perform a Missions Critical Evaluation. This is done approximately once every period to rate each store on its performance and to define areas which need improvement. During the evaluation it was observed that I had not placed thermometers in the dough as directed to do so by the Papa John’s Operations Manual. The new District Manager, whom I had never met and who, at the time, I did not know, brought this to my attention. I acknowledged the fact that I did not use thermometers in the dough. The District Manager 7

proceeded to ask if I would use thermometers in the dough, “from now on.” I thought for a moment and answered honestly and openly, “Probably not.” I then tried to explain that I did not wish to be insubordinate but that it was a task that was often overlooked and that it may be overlooked again because of the nature of the task and its relevance among many other tasks. Little, if anything, was said in response. In hindsight, I was lucky not to be fired on the spot. Regardless, there was no further discussion. The District Manager did not introduce himself, thereby revealing who he was, nor did he make any future efforts to discuss the issue or to determine a solution, a compromise, or even a command. During the next two months it became evident to me that I was being watched for any false steps so that I could be punished for my prior delinquency. Eventually, my punishment came. This happened on Easter Sunday. Traditionally, Easter is a very slow day in the pizza business. Since I was opening the store that day, I used the opportunity to bring a DVD that I could watch during the slowest periods of the day. I did not wish to neglect my responsibilities nor, in my opinion, did I. At some point during the afternoon I had the DVD playing in the office while I was cleaning the store. The District Manager arrived at that time. He needed me to sign some papers. The visit took not more than five minutes and the District Manager said almost nothing to me other than asking me to sign the papers. The next day I received a phone call from my General Manager telling me that I had been revoked of my position as Shift-Leader. She said that I was no longer allowed to work as a Shift-Leader for any of the stores managed by this particular District Manager. I was quite shocked, hurt, and taken aback. I did not feel that I deserved to be demoted and, even if I had, I received no verbal or written warnings in order to allow me to improve my conduct and keep my position. Shortly following this 8

incident I inquired for a Shift-Leader at another location, outside of this District Manager’s area. I was immediately given a Shift-Leader position at the first store I inquired. However, days before my first shift, the General Manager called me said that I had been prohibited from working as a Shift-Leader at her location as well. At this point I sought out the District Manager who had revoked my position. After several attempts it became clear to the District Manager that I wished to keep my job and he held a meeting with me. In this meeting he finally brought up the earlier incident in February. He went on to conclude that I was a hard-working, responsible, and diligent employee but that I lacked the essential ability as a manager to hold others accountable. He then agreed to transfer me to another location and to allow me to continue working as a Shift-Leader. He also said he would teach me how to hold team members accountable, to which, as far as I could tell, he never did. I have included here a letter I wrote to my General Manager immediately following my demotion. The letter was written in the moment and adequately captures how I felt: 3/26/2009

Dear Jennie, It is not you to whom I should now write. But if these words are intended otherwise, I incur risk. If they are intended for you, I secure my spirit no matter the worldly outcomes. I write not wholly to defend myself, but to unveil myself in a way perhaps actions have been unable. Or, if not 9

to unveil, to remind, and to edify that which I have already shown myself to be. After many years of truly genuine effort for a large and seemingly unappreciative company, I was deeply offended the other day by your boss’s initiative. I am honored and grateful that you respected me enough to advocate my work and maintain my job. You are indeed a wonderful boss for whom much credit is due. But, I want you to hear my opinion so that my endeavors, great or small, will not become misconstrued. I have been employed by this company, in one form or another for many years. I am thankful for the opportunity it has always afforded me to labor and to earn a living. I am glad for the trust the company bestows each time I put on a Papa John’s uniform. However, I have become constantly concerned with the company’s policies, outlook, and austere methods. I understand the nature of the corporation and its ultimate goal to profit. In order to profit, to succeed in the competitive market, the company is required to monitor and highly regulate its workforce. In essence, they must develop a firm and immovable foundation. One that cannot be altered or transfigured, but rather easily and completely adhered to by each of its employees. Although I understand its 10

methods, I do not and cannot invariably agree. There is more to Papa John’s than an assembly line in which workers can be moved in and moved out like cogs in a machine. Behind each store, behind each closing shift, behind each phone call, behind each pizza, is a person…not a piece in a puzzle. Though policy may need to be written with the narrow expectation that each employee is only a cog, in reality we know this is not true. This is where healthy and appropriate judgment can and ought to be displayed. As an experienced, respectable, responsible manager, I ought to be able, allowed, and expected to do just what my title presumes…to manage. I know the expectations, I have learned the rules, I have experienced the predictable and the unpredictable. I have encountered foreseen and unforeseen situations. I have been trained and I have learned and I have not learned and I have made mistakes. But through all that there needs to be an understanding of human competence, capacity, expertise, and savvy. I am not a cog, not a machine, not a piece in a puzzle to aimlessly and thoughtlessly follow every rudimentary command. If I determine that a radio be appropriate at a given moment, then it is appropriate. Not because I am a narrow, self-centered, disrespectful employee, but because I have earned the trust and the right to manage the store…to decide what and when something has become appropriate based not just on policy, which I know, but on circumstance, 11

experience, necessity, and human understanding. Therefore, if I have determined that an employee be allowed to rest, it is not out of laziness, aloofness, or some personal vendetta against the company, it is out of a more, but not completely, dutiful alertness for my position as manager. I should not then be immediately scrutinized, but observed and ultimately judged as valuable or invaluable to the company. Jennie, nothing I have now stated is aimed against you or anyone. It is a sort of statement of faith. I love my work and I love the people I work with. I will continue with a genuine heart. What I do and how I proceed to do it will not be a measure of company assertiveness. It is, was, and always will be a measure of spirit, hard work, dedication, and love. I speak now with words, but I speak always through action. I will continue to be a valuable member of the Papa John’s Pizza Corporation, but I will do it the best way I know how. And, if that should ever be overlooked, if that should ever be misconceived, if that should ever be considered a detriment to this company, I apologize with all my heart. I am most sincerely yours, now and always, Colin M. Mustful


What I have expressed through this incident appears to be, in general, the manner in which Papa John’s holds its team members accountable. In this case, me. It involves no communication, no discussion, no warnings, no education, and no defined expectations – simply punishment through no means of confrontation. I was never confronted. Likewise, it has been my observation that team members are not confronted. Rather, they are blamed and they are punished. Also, they are bullied. If a team member’s conduct does not meet the expectations of the Manager, the team member is targeted and then neglected or else forced into unfavorable circumstances. This leads to grievances by the team member and results in discord between the team member and the Manager. This then often leads to resignation or termination. Rarely is the team member appropriately confronted and communicated with throughout this process. In addition, Papa John’s has created a system of innumerable, and often dubious, tasks and unrealistic goals. Management is able to utilize these meaningless tasks and unrealistic goals to establish fault or short-coming on the part of any team member they so choose. If at any time and for any reason, personal or otherwise, management becomes dissatisfied with any employee, they can point toward any meaningless task not accomplished or any unrealistic goal not reached in order to justify punishment or termination. Accountability, therefore, is not used as a means of improvement and team success through common expectations and common goals. Instead it is used as a system of blame and punishment. Accountability has become the method by which Papa John’s and its management determines, at any point in time and for any reason, who is acceptable and who is not. Who is in and who is out.


Superiority Superiority is another vague term that could qualify for just about anything. It is a noble and worthwhile endeavor to seek superiority in all categories of service especially in such a competitive market. In this case I will not question the superiority of the product. I will even go so far as to assume that the product is superior. Moreover, I do not question the ability of the team members. Although their ability is relevant, superiority it is not primarily, or at least initially, determined from the overall ability of the employees. What I question in regards to superiority, is the system by which Papa John’s determines the value of its employees. In other words, the way they choose whom to hire, whom to fire, whom to promote, and so forth. Before I continue, allow me to preface my statements by noting that there are a great many diligent, hard-working, responsible, wonderful, and worthy people working for Papa John’s at all levels. I know this firsthand. But, I also believe that Papa John’s prefers, in general, employees who are less capable, less reliable, less intelligent, less ambitious, and who are expendable. That sounds harsh, and quite possibly misguided. But from what I can tell, Papa John’s’ upper management undervalues, devalues, and fails to recognize noteworthy qualities in its employees. It does this for a very specific reason – control. Papa John’s seeks to employ people they can control. They want people with little or no experience. They want people who have rarely or never been employed. They want people who will not view minimum wage as a form of under-employment. Again, this sounds harsh and I admit that this is challenging to articulate. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Papa John’s seeks people they can control. And once an employee has stepped outside their limits of control they are no longer viewed as valuable no 14

matter what their personal qualities. So, regardless of how hard-working, responsible, and diligent an employee is, if that employee is no longer constrained by the systems of control, that employee is no longer valuable. And because that employee is no longer valuable, they are no longer worthy of reward or even of fair treatment. Instead they become expendable, ignored, mistreated, and exploited until that employee decides that continued employment with Papa John’s is no longer a worthwhile endeavor. Once this happens, Papa John’s seamlessly fills their position with someone they can control and the process is continued. It is this system of control that diminishes the superiority of Papa John’s Pizza. Because its team members are valued by this system of control, rather than by merit, they are thereby disvalued as to their actual worth. Because Papa John’s hires people who are—we will say under-worthy—and fails to respect and acknowledge those who are indeed worthy, the superiority of the entire company suffers. It has become clear to me that they system of control by which Papa John’s values its employees results directly, whether by quality or by service, in an evident lack of superiority.


People Are Priority Always (PAPA) People Are Priority Always (PAPA) is an essential and albeit required value for any customer service orientated industry. Papa John’s is no exception. Outwardly, Papa John’s adheres to PAPA and promotes great customer service. For instance, they teach their drivers that they are “servers on wheels.” They stress hospitality at the door such as using the customer’s name, repeating the order, and always saying thank you. When handling customer complaints or problems they teach their team members to use LAST which stands for Listen, Apologize, Solve, and Thank. Through every step of the ordering process Papa John’s does indeed promote quality customer service or PAPA. However, as I mentioned, this is only outwardly. Inwardly, there is a much more analytical approach toward customer service. I am speaking of course about profit. Surely any company must turn a profit in order to survive and hopefully to thrive, but Papa John’s, I believe, does this at the expense of its customers. As discussed earlier, Papa John’s relies on a system of numbers to determine its cost/benefit analysis and as a result, its customer service. I will consider for a moment the number known as CSC or Customer Service Compliance. CSC is a percentage which theoretically represents the percent of customers who received quality service during any given period of time. This is determined by the computer system based on the estimated amount of time it takes for a pizza to arrive at a customer’s door from the moment the order was placed. As far as I am concerned the CSC number is arbitrary because it does not consider the infinite number of intangible and unquantifiable factors included in the service process. Also, the system does not truly know how long it takes for a pizza to arrive at the customer’s door. Lastly, 16

very often managers cheat the system in order to improve the CSC number. They do this by routing drivers to orders before the drivers arrive at the store, thereby deceiving the system. This then has a ripple effect that invalidates the entire system of projection making it impossible to properly forecast labor needs and to accurately analyze customer service. I have digressed. What I wish to point out here is that Papa John’s does and will risk quality customer service in favor of its cost/benefit analysis. This perhaps is a standard practice among for-profit company’s but it does not justify the fact that it is both wrong and opposite to the standards set out in its core values. For instance, Papa John’s does not seek a 100% Customer Service Compliance as one might expect. Rather, it seeks a CSC of 90%. The company has determined that if it achieves a CSC of 100% then either sales volume was too low or labor costs were too high or both. If CSC falls below 90% Papa John’s has determined, through some type of number crunching, that service has failed to a large enough extent that it may eat into future profits and thereby risk the company’s sustainability. Therefore, Papa John’s believes that a CSC of 90% is just right to maintain sales volume (to keep enough customers coming back) without overspending, and in my opinion properly spending, on labor. In total, this system will maintain the desired profit margin, but it is clearly to the detriment of 10% of its customers. Included among all of this is the way in which employees are utilized and exploited. Papa John’s may overschedule during expected periods of high business volume, but it will always underschedule during expected periods of low business volume. Far too often, it seems, managers are understaffed and employees are overworked. In the company it is known as being “set up for failure.” Many times throughout the course of a week, managers are “set up for failure,” or, if not set up for failure, they are left at 17

risk for failure. This is done intentionally because as long as service is achieved during expected periods of high business volume, the company can afford (and it is apparently more profitable) to incur service failures during expected periods of low business volume. For instance, if the store achieves 100% CSC between 5pm and 8pm, it can then incur a CSC of 50% between 11pm and 2am and still achieve a CSC of 90% for the day because of the higher number of orders placed between 5pm and 8pm. This results in overworked, overstressed employees, pressure to cheat the system, and poor customer service. Because Papa John’s operates on a system of numbers and seeks the highest possible profit margin based on its analysis, the company fails to achieve quality customer service on a regular basis. This makes “People Are Priority Always� an invalid statement.


Attitude I cannot speak on attitude. As defined by Papa John’s “whether you think you can or you can’t – you’re right!” I agree that a positive mental attitude can make all the difference and I laud Papa John’s for including it among their core values. But I cannot speak toward attitude because it is a rather personal endeavor. An attitude is a reflection of an individual and not of an entity. Papa John’s should and ought to seek out those with a positive attitude, but it is not something achieved through company intent. Instead I will consider accuracy. Accuracy is constantly reflected in the daily operation of the business and appears to be an important characteristic of Papa John’s Pizza. It is obvious that if a customer does not receive what he or she ordered there is an immediate and glaring service failure. Accuracy becomes paramount in the pizza industry where restaurants turn out hundreds of pizzas a day, all of which require accuracy. This does not include other details such as customer information, special requests, and food management. Certainly Papa John’s stresses accuracy throughout the ordering process and beyond. The concern I have is that Papa John’s overstresses accuracy through their system of micromanagement. Everything that is done throughout the day is predetermined, beginning before the door is unlocked in the morning with a security check of the parking lot to the final turn of the key at night. I do not entirely argue that this is unnecessary. I understand the requirements of uniformity for such a vast, international organization. But Papa John’s brings it to an eccentric level. Each store has a checklist with over one hundred fifty tasks. Each store uses a Manager’s Daily Operating Guide (MDOG) which is a computer generated forecasting 19

system that tells the manager exactly how much dough will be needed on an hour-to-hour basis. The MDOG determines how much of each food product should be prepared, it says exactly how many drivers and in-stores will be needed at every hour, and so-forth. Also, everything in the store is scripted. Team members are told what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. Even drivers are given explicit instructions on how a pizza should be taken from the store, to the customer’s door, at the customer’s door, and then how they should return. Again, I understand the need for uniformity and I can see how micromanagement works to enhance service, eliminate mistakes, and assist team members; specifically managers. But these prompts are not just overly detailed, they are overly dictated. What I mean by this, is that none of the systems of micromanagement are used to guide employees, which I believe would be ideal, but are they are used to limit all variables no matter what the cost or consequences. In this way Papa John’s has determined that it is a greater benefit to the company to stifle employees through a compulsory, overly detailed system of micromanagement than to casually guide them in a way that allows for individuality, creativity, knowledge, experience, intuition, and unforeseen circumstances. Papa John’s seeks to eliminate chance in as many ways as it is capable thereby eliminating the possibility for greater success or greater failure. This may uphold the status quo, but it alienates its team members, smothers innovation, limits growth, and fails to account for the talents, character, experience, ambition, and value of its employees. Accuracy then is replaced by a system of micromanagement which is really a system of least-risk or complacency.


Constant Improvement The final core value is Constant Improvement. I struggle to find any source of evidence declaring this particular value through the operation of Papa John’s Pizza. With each value preceding Constant Improvement there is an evident dichotomy between in the way Papa John’s follows its values and how it does not. In the case of Constant Improvement I fail to recognize any measurable means by which Papa John’s seeks to fulfill this value. Rather, they seem content in seeking constant change. Constant and indefinite change abounds in their product, their methods, and their structure. To catalogue all of the means by which Papa John’s is constantly changing would be impossible. But it is undeniable that within any period of time, change is intentionally used as a tool in achieving the company’s unsaid goals. Personnel are one of the most frequent and easily identifiable changes. This is done at all levels of management but is most apparent when done with the General Manager. Once a store has reached a certain level of comfort or familiarity, change in personnel is invariably the outcome. I am unclear exactly why this is done. I can only suggest that it is a means by which Papa John’s can reassert its control, reemphasize its policies, and reestablish predictability in the operation of their restaurants. By changing personnel, especially through the GM position, its team members are reminded of all directives and its General Managers are reminded of the transient nature of their position lest they accomplish the goals, or numbers, set out for them. I would like to also briefly note the impermanent nature of many of the changes that are implemented. Nothing is given its own space, nothing its own category, nothing its own permanent identity. It is truly as if every 21

change is meant to be temporary and fleeting. Things are implemented only as a quick-fix. Papa John’s appears to recognize that change only results in improvement, or profits, for a brief period of time, then change once again becomes necessary. For this reason change is made with the intention of leaving room for change once again in the near future. It is not constant improvement, then, that Papa John’s is after, but improvement only as necessary. Improvement becomes mixed with and overtaken by change in order to ensure its already-established chunk of the market. Before I conclude my argument on Constant Improvement I would like to include a letter I wrote to my District Manager in September of 2010. At the time the District Manager had suggested to implement a system of feedback. He wished to know what suggestions his team members had regarding the operation of the restaurant. I took advantage of that offer with the following letter: Mr. Jon Peres I am writing in response to your fax from 9/10/10. I would like to briefly offer my opinions and suggestions on management and leadership methods in order to help Papa John’s become more efficient and profitable. Since I have no business training I would like to refer largely to the text, “Reforming Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership” by Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal. I believe that the management has become too rigid and all-encompassing. From what 22

I can tell, it is run by a system of control at a micro level that does not encourage or foster independent growth, thought, or innovation. It thrives only on routine and control. It is my opinion that control is an illusion and routine a fallacy. Rather, the life of a manager “is a hectic life, shifting rapidly from one situation to another.” Decisions, therefore, are fluid and emerge from a variety of frames or circumstances both known and unknown. As put by Bolman and Deal, “the image of firm control and crisp precision often attributed to managers has little relevance to the messy world of complexity, conflict, and uncertainty they inhabit. They need multiple frames to survive. They need to understand that any event of process can serve several purposes and that participants are often operating from different views of reality.” Current leadership and management methods utilized by Papa John’s and its franchise partners seemingly choke out and dismiss this theory of understanding. Papa John’s, instead, seems rooted in inadequate and somewhat antiquated ideas. It redundantly pushes (often through coercion) the same theories and methods but never considers real, thoughtful, and purposeful adjustments based on its strengths, its weaknesses, and its people. Rather, Papa John’s maintains a strict and ineffective routine which ultimately drives out innovation. We are stuck in the belief that if results are marginally satisfactory, the 23

incentive to maintain routine outweighs the incentive to innovate. We cannot continue to rely on straightforward facts, numbers, and routines. Nothing about this business is straight forward. It is more accurately described as complex, surprising, deceptive, and ambiguous. This, I contend, ought to be accepted and harnessed. Managers at every level should rely on their experience and be allowed and encouraged to adapt, change, and read situations in order to decide what needs to be done and then make it happen. I further argue that Papa John’s and its management do not thoughtfully consider its individuals needs and skills. I understand the tasks and chores that must be adequately accomplished, but to ask the same of each individual without concern for that individual’s abilities and experience is irrational. In addition, suitable incentives are rarely appropriated to well-deserving employees. By asking the same of each individual while offering few incentives, “individuals may feel neglected and oppressed, and organizations sputter because individuals withdraw their efforts or even work against organizational purposes.” If, however, Papa John’s can learn to value and more properly respect its employees and consider what each can give and what each cannot give, individuals are more likely to find their work meaningful and satisfying. In this way Papa John’s will more effectively reap the talents and energies of its employees which ultimately leads to the 24

company’s growth and success. Also, I contend that Papa John’s suffers from specifically blaming individuals which thereby alienates its employees. All too often problems are cast as a result from bad attitudes, abrasive personalities, neurotic tendencies, stupidity, and incompetence. As noted by Bolman and Deal, “targeting individuals while ignoring larger system failures oversimplifies the problem and does little to prevent its recurrence.” I would like to summarize my concerns by citing Bolman and Deal as stated in the following: “Because organizations are complex, surprising, deceptive, and ambiguous, they are formidably difficult to comprehend and manage. Our preconceived theories and images determine what we see, what we do, and how we judge what we accomplish. Narrow, oversimplified perspectives become fallacies that cloud rather than illuminate managerial action. The world of most managers and administrators is a world of messes: complexity, ambiguity, value dilemmas, political pressures, and multiple constituencies. For managers whose images blind them to important parts of this chaotic reality, it is a world of frustration and failure. For those with better theories and the intuitive capacity to use them with skill and grace, it is a world of excitement and possibility. A mess can be defined as both a troublesome situation and a group of people who eat together. The core challenge of 25

leadership is to move an organization from the former to something more like the latter. “ I do not claim to know the answers. These are just simple suggestions to be considered for appropriate and effective change. I have worked with the company for over eleven years and it is my opinion that the company has not properly adapted to a changing world. Furthermore, through methods of control and micromanagement, Papa John’s fails to take advantage of the immense value of many employees while alienating many others. If Papa John’s considers the values and abilities of each individual and then adjusts its expectations with consideration to each employee’s abilities, then the company will much further benefit from the fruits of their labor. Take these words as you wish. It is my hope that I can offer valuable and advantageous recommendations that may be considered and utilized to lead to more profitable and successful business methods. Greatest Regards, Colin Mustful This was quite a strong and deliberate message I made. However, despite the District Manager’s appeal to accept and consider feedback, I received no response to this letter, nor did I receive any acknowledgement of its receipt. 26

Certainly, if Papa John’s openly sought constant improvement, it would at least open a line of communication with me regarding this letter.


Manifesto Papa John’s Pizza intentionally diverts its business practices away from its written core values. Its core values, though important, are only used as a duplicitous guile; a tool to squeeze as much utility and profit from every single employee, from every single customer, and from every single pizza. What it says is a lie and how it operates is hypocrisy. Ultimately, hypocrisy undermines the confidence of its customers and the integrity of its employees. This is what Papa John’s does.


Unabashed Hypocrisy: A Dichotomy of Values  

For thirteen years I worked for Papa John's Pizza. Throughout my employment I observed a remarkable discord in the company's system of value...