John Perry, the founder of Human Productivity Systems sat down for an interview with Jolly Good Media to talk about his various projects and his own impressive story.
This is a lightly edited transcript from the above video.
Heading to California
I’m a kid that grew up in the South during the 40s and 50s, and all that that means. In order to leverage my education I had to leave the south in order to get a job that I thought would use the education that I had developed over those years. So I moved from Florida to California almost 59 years ago to be an aeronautical research engineer at NASA. They offered me a job, I didn’t know what that was but I figured if they think I can do it, I’m giving it a shot. So I moved 3,000 miles from my nearest relative in order to do this work at the age of 19.
I was one of those kids who loved going to school, I graduated from college when I was 19 so I was a minor. You had to be 21 back in the day to be considered an adult. It was a wonderful job, I had a great time. It was helping land a man on the moon by the end of the decade and returning him safely to earth and I was a part of that journey. It was like going to Disneyland every day during the 60s when I was doing that work.
If people are willing to exercise their right to choose their next steps and accept responsible for the consequences of those choices, they are empowered.
The last two years weren’t so much fun because I got a new boss and he and I never got along. Over two years it became apparent to me that we were never going to get along so I decided I didn’t want to live my life my life in pain and so I left. And I wondered why after 22 plus years and within three years of being able to retire with lifetime financial security I felt compelled to leave that career. And the thing that was missing from my experience was good information about the source of my pain. And I suffered pain daily at the hands of my job.
Founding Human Productivity Systems
That was the genesis of the development of the job person environment assessment because I ran into two other guys who had similar experiences with their former employers and we decided that we could do better we could develop something that would help people make more informed choices about either managing themselves in challenging circumstances or finding reasons to leave the circumstance. That was particularly important to me because I felt guilty about feeling the need to leave that career because everybody thought I had the best job in the building. I was a chief financial officer at the time and I was in charge of every penny of a 40 million dollar budget. Most people thought I had it made while I was dying every day at the hands of that job because of my deteriorating relationship with my new manager.
So we developed a job person environment assessment as a way to inform the choices. Basically what it answers for us is how much energy is it taking me to navigate a typical workday. And so it’s based on how we see the role we have to play, who we are, and what is the fit between us in that role we are expected or required to play. And how much support do we get from the environment that is the way things are done in the organization that would support us in meeting the challenges we face in doing the job.
And so we finished the development of that and about 1986 and that was when I founded Human Productivity Systems. I found it as a consultancy that would focus on organization and leadership development and the thing that made us special, and I think keeps us special, is we have very effective diagnostic tools. The thing I enjoy most about engineering was troubleshooting, and that is searching for cause which is all diagnosis is. ‘What is happening in this place that prevents people from being at their best in the employer service?’ That’s what the JPEA answers – where are the leaks in the tank. I use it in everything I do. In fact I don’t work without it because I’m a whole lot better with it than I am without it.
What the JPEA Does
What I can do with the JPEA results is focus and facilitate conversation. It doesn’t give you answers, it doesn’t tell you what you do but it points to options for next steps. So when you get your JPEA results you see the source of your discomfort, or the source of your joy and comfort. You see options for either protecting what you have that’s good, or managing yourself in circumstances that are not so good, or finding reasons to leave the circumstance if you believe it’s not gonna get better and you’re not willing to pay the price.
So I think it helps people make more informed choices about managing themselves in circumstances, or finding reasons to leave those circumstances. And at the end of the day if people are willing to exercise their right to choose their next steps and accept responsible for the consequences of those choices, they are empowered. They can own their future. It may not always turn out the way you want it but it's on them. Like I said earlier I don’t have answers but I know what questions I can help people to ask an answer for themselves so that they can feel comfortable with them and their own destiny. I believe I truly do help people create better tomorrows and at the end of the day there's nothing more fun, and I get no greater joy, than knowing that I contributed to people owning their tomorrows and seeing possibilities for better tomorrows for themselves and those they care about.