What is P3 to me? Just “another” (not public-private-partnerships) paradigm?

August 1, 2013


To this day – whatever day you are reading this – people debate and even argue with serious heat and animation, as to whether the chicken or the egg came first.  I always say that there is no definitive answer, as different people, different climes, and different times will all have their own perspectives.

Looking back, the increasing consumerization of information and communications technologies, the growth and maturation of outsourcing practices, just-in-time inventory systems, and both mechanization and the industrial revolution, have all caused their own paradigm shifts as disruptive technologies.  Today, it is not just the advent and development of cloud computing but a host of other factors, including: social media, mass mobility, information ubiquity, unparalleled social plus political plus economic diversity and uncertainty, and global competition for consumable inputs, consumers and their data, and other competitive advantages – have all combined to create a massive and sustained disruption in the way we both conduct business and understand business that has no known parallel.

As a result of this, it is hard to know where the supplier ends and the consumer starts (focus groups and beta testing); whether the regulator controls the business or vice versa (trade associations and lobbyists); and whether the consumer or the business decides what goes on store shelves (social media, loyalty programs and points or airmiles, and target-marketing campaigns).  One can hardly say that the business of business (governance) has become a public-private-partnership with the “Occupy” and “Anonymous” and “anti-globalization” movements, and outright revolutions here and there showing many separate and distinct actors.  However, the three “Ps” do still have a role to play.  Let me explain; using 3Ps, P3, and PPP interchangeably throughout this blog post.


There have been a few disruptive shifts in this paradigm of the 3Ps.  I would say that we have experienced a second shift, and we are therefore in the third cycle.

                Cycle 1: Goods and Services (as separate and distinct).

In the first cycle, the 3Ps were separately and distinctly applicable to each of goods and services.

In terms of goods, this stood for – Produce, Publicize, and Place on shelves.  For “widgets”, this would generally involve first creating one or more prototypes, publicizing its utility and efficacy through direct or indirect marketing, and finding the right combination of funding and sales or other patronage to make and sell ever more widgets through various distribution channels.

In terms of services, this stood for Present, Perform, and Persuade.  For “works”, the relevant steps would involve presenting or offering the service, performing for pay or as a teaser sample, and then persuading the customer to either pay for the sample, purchase more, or assist in building the market; whether or not for a set or fixed fee, or some other form of compensation.

                Cycle 2: Goods and Services (with blurred boundary lines).

In the second cycle, the 3Ps were used together and often blurred the boundary lines between goods and services.  This was and remains, the era of Public-Private Partnerships, in which engagements involved both the delivery of and performance on, a combination of goods and services mainly used to procure public infrastructure at significantly reduced public expense,[1] and yield greater value for money. Nomenclature differs slightly, such that in Canada, some of the common PPP variants have included:

(i) build and finance (BF);

(ii) operate and maintain (O&M);

(iii) build, operate, and own (BOO);

(iv) build, operate, and transfer (BOT);

(v) design and build (DB);

(vi) design, build, and finance (DBF);

(vii) design, build, finance, and operate


(iix) design, build, finance, and maintain

 (DBFM); and

(ix) design, build, finance, operate, and

 maintain (DBFOM).[2]

In other parts of the world, including the United States, some of the common PPP variants have included the above, as well as:

(x) lump-sum turnkey (LSTK);

(xi) build, lease, transfer (BLT);

(xii) build, transfer, operate (BTO);

(xiii) build, own, operate, transfer (BOOT);

(xiv) build, rehabilitate, operate, transfer


(xv) operate, maintain, transfer (OMT);

(xvi) design, build, finance, operate, transfer


(xvii) engineering, procurement, and

 construction (EPC);

(xiix) engineering procurement, construction

 and commissioning (EPCC);

(xix) engineering, procurement, construction

 and management (EPCM);

(xx) engineering, procurement, construction

 and installation (EPCI); and

(xxi) engineering, procurement installation

and commissioning (EPIC).[3]

Originally conceived for hard infrastructure “widgets” (bridges, airports, roads, tunnels and termnals, energy projects, and railways), PPP grew to be applied to “works” as infrastructure services (healthcare, social services, and disaster assistance through a variety of NGOs, Health Trusts in the United Kingdom, and multinational entities.  This paradigm shift to greater diversity in 3Ps application and an increased gradual blurring of the lines between goods and services, has now brought us to the third and current cycle.

                Cycle 3: Goods and Services (as indistinguishably forms encompassed by functions).[4]

In this paradigm, the focus is less on the widgets or the works, but more on the actions and inputs that go into creating these finished widgets and works.  Those actions and inputs can be put into two groups, with the Products (being both goods and services), in the middle.  On one side, would be the People, and on the other side, would be the Processes.  Hence, the 3Ps of Cycle 2 no longer stand for public-private-partnership at all, and have been eclipsed and overtaken by these 3Ps of Cycle 3, with 14 major sub-elements, as follows.

(A) People: There are 3 (“three”) main descriptors for what the people do in producing goods and services, being: Coordination (of leadership, rules, and goals); Empowerment and training/re-training; and Organic collaboration.  The first letters of these main descriptors happen to spell “CEO”;

(B) Products: There are 6 (“six”) main elements in the production process of both goods and services, being: Design; Requirements; Inventory; Virtualization; Experience; and Safety and security.  The first letters of these main elements happen to spell “drives”;

(C) Processes: There are 5 (“five”) main processes or process collectives that can impact upon the goods and services forms produced, being: Health and human rights; on-boarding and off-boarding; Market as a mammal; Environment (natural); and Supply chain.  The first letters of these processes and process collectives happen to spell “homes”.


To show the salience of this typology, let us now consider the following illustrations, with each of these six examples containing one element from “people” (A), one from “products” (B), and one from “processes” (C), as presented in different orders to reveal all six possible, single-co-use combinations of these letters.


A-B-C – A new and disruptive market entrant uses an innovative organic collaboration strategy (A), to devise and deliver a product security innovation (B), through crowdsourcing and gamification; and the market as a mammal (C), shifts en-masse to both sides of collaborative production and individual consumption, of the popular good.

C-A-B – Bad off-boarding (C), and the fallout from improper segregation of duties leads to a new and more open leadership style (A), and a focus on customer experience marketing (B), through traditional and social media; all in an effort to win back market share of the demand for that good, and both public and employee confidence.

B-C-A – A product safety recall (B), stemming from faulty production processes and quality controls that led to an unsanitary contamination (C), results in significant worker re-retraining (A) for the producer of that good.


B-A-C – The successful trade dress design (B), of a service provider demonstrates the type of inspired leadership (A), on environmental issues (C), in the use of alternative energy that generates a loyal neighborhood of patrons and significant in-bound tourists and curiosity travelers who further stimulate the local economy.

C-B-A – A lean supply chain (C), achieved by using virtualization (B), and cloud applications allows for rapid sourcing of additional services as and when required, and so keeps staff oriented and focused on discrete and achievable employee goals (A).

A-C-B – New, consumer-driven government rules (A), and regulations on carbon and pollution (C), in this service industry sector lead many of its providers to speedily re-align products in their inventory (B), to better meet regulatory and market demands.


The collective phrase spelled-out by the 14 (“fourteen”) major above elements grouped as People, Products, and Processes, is “CEO drives homes”.  This is no accident, as both producers and consumers of products and services are fully enclosed by this current paradigm – no matter where in the model you start or end your application of the paradigm to goods or services, as the above illustrations well-show.  No entity can function or properly deploy its human capital without solid goals, rules, and leadership from the C-suite; which then drives an economy as well as the homes, of all who live, work, learn, and play there.

So, what is P3 to me?  In this current cycle, post-2nd paradigm-shift, it is for me a way of doing things (works) and making things (widgets) that better sees the different inputs and impacts of people and processes, on today’s many and different types of collaboration, that lead to those “forms” or “products” that we still insist on calling goods (widgets) & services (works).

But then again, if the widget or work is the chicken, does this make the 3Ps one big egg; or is the egg actually both a widget (a good) and a work (a service, less the stork, in delivering future chickens)?



Ekundayo George is a sociologist and a lawyer.  He has also taken courses in organizational and micro-organizational behavior, and has significant experienced in business law and counseling, diverse litigation, and regulatory practice.  He is licensed to practice law in Ontario, Canada, as well as in New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., in the United States of America (U.S.A.).  See, for example: http://www.ogalaws.com.  An avid writer, blogger, and reader, Mr. George is a published author in Environmental Law and Policy (National Security aspects), and has sector experience in healthcare, communications, financial services, real estate, international trade, eCommerce, and Outsourcing.

Mr. George is also an experienced strategic consultant; sourcing, managing, and delivering on large, high stakes, strategic projects (investigations, procurements, and consulting engagements) with multiple stakeholders and multidisciplinary project teams.  See, for example: http://www.simprime-ca.com.

Hyperlinks to external sites are provided to readers of this blog as a courtesy and convenience, only, and no warranty is made or responsibility assumed by either or both of George Law Offices and Strategic IMPRIME Consulting & Advisory, Inc. (“S’imprime-ça”), in whole or in part for their content, or their accuracy, or their availability.

This article creates no lawyer-client relationship, and is not legal advice, or an attorney advert where barred.

[1] Common Public-Private Partnership Projects (PPP) in Canada involved healthcare, transportation, justice, and corrections.  See Infra note 2, at text immediately preceding Table 1 in the cited material.

[2] PPP Canada (Public-Private Partnerships).  What does the Canadian P3 market look like?  Table 1: Distribution of P3 Projects in Procurement by Procurement Method (2009 – 2011).   Online: >http://www.p3canada.ca/p3-market.php<; See also The Canadian Council of Public-Private Partnerships.  Models of Public-Private Partnerships.  Online: >http://www.pppcouncil.ca/resources/about-ppp/models.html<

[3] Ministry of Finance, India.  National PPP Policy 2011 – Draft for Consultation.  Released to the public on October 15, 2011.  Online: >http://www.pppinindia.com/Defining-PPP.php<; See also The Energy Industries Council (EIC), United Kingdom.  Project Profiles and Contract Types.  Online: >http://www.the-eic.com/EICDataStream/EICDataStreamGlossary/ProjectProfilesandContractTypes.aspx<

[4] We should note that naming conventions are shifting in multiple fields, with laptops, tablets, PCs, and smartphones together and increasingly labeled “Form Factors”, as they all serve collective and distinct functions of communication, collaboration, and connectivity in ways at times similar and at times distinct, as the case may be.


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