THE BRYCE IS RIGHT!

Tim Bryce on business, management, politics, and this crazy ever changing world of ours.

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,535 other followers

  • Categories

  • Tim’s YouTube Channel

  • Fan Page

  • Since 1971:
    "Software for the finest computer - The Mind"

    Follow me on Twitter: @timbryce

    Site Meter

  • Subscribe

  • Community

WHY DO WE TOLERATE INCOMPETENCE?

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 23, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

- Have we become too apathetic to fight back?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

There is only one thing worse than incompetence, and that is accepting it. I began thinking about this over the holidays when I took an ocean cruise. I have taken many such cruises over the years and have traveled on many different lines, some better than others. The line and ship I took this year was new to me. It was a large ship with about 2,200 passengers and was a part of a well known shipping line. Our destination was the Western Caribbean where I hoped to relax and catch up on my reading. I graded the food on board as “fair” at best, but I was particularly appalled by the embarking and disembarking procedures on/off the ship. Our first port of call was in the Honduras where I had scheduled a round of golf. There was only one problem, I couldn’t get off the ship.

There were many other excursions planned at the same time, such as snorkeling, going to the beach, and boat rides. Everyone was asked to go to the ship’s theater where they were to await instructions. Unfortunately, the people running it obviously didn’t know what they were doing. What should have been a simple disembarkation process turned into an hour of madness. I’ve never experienced such confusion on a ship before. Even worse was returning to the ship where we were faced with a long single line of passengers. Some simple systems would have easily alleviated the problem, but the ship’s personnel had no comprehension of this, nor seemed to care.

We see this same type of incompetence in the corporate world where there is no sense of systems. Instead of studying transaction processing (volume versus speed), companies are content to settle for quick and dirty programming solutions. This is like applying a Band-Aid when a tourniquet or amputation is needed. Management seems oblivious to the problem and, as such, doesn’t appear to be too concerned with correcting it.

In the political and fraternal organizations I have been involved with I see little in the way of standard practices. In one particular organization, there are hundreds of jurisdictions around the world, none of which follow the exact same protocols. Even within a single jurisdiction, with several districts and hundreds of chapters, there are no standards for doing such things as taking minutes, maintaining membership records, or basic accounting. Standard practices would simplify the administrative life of the chapter and would make it possible to measure the performance of one chapter against another, but for some reason this cannot be done in today’s world of the computer. In fact, the jurisdictions openly resist standards thereby affecting communications, promoting incompetence, which in turn thwarts membership and prosperity.

It is generally agreed our government is plagued by gridlock. What little legislation that is passed is based on extreme compromise. Consequently, we lack foresight, decisiveness and leadership. We also find ourselves in a reactive form of government where we are no longer in control of our destiny. We have a long history of such compromise in America. To illustrate, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and Compromise of 1850 were designed to maintain the peace between the North and the South. They pacified conditions for the moment, but only delayed the inevitable, Civil War.

The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements denote a sense of frustration with the current political system, but feel impeded from ultimately changing it (even though the Tea Party was able to successfully elect Congressmen). A legitimate third party might offer some checks and balances, but this has never been proven to be a viable option.

The lack of effective systems, methods, techniques, and skilled people has led to an era of incompetence. Normally, we would be frustrated by such problems, but are we really? I contend we have been conditioned to tolerate and accept such incompetence. But why?

First, we must understand incompetence is a man-made invention. It assumes there are better systems, methods, techniques, and skilled individuals for performing certain tasks, yet we elect to operate under inferior conditions. Instead of planning and designing suitable systems, we patch together counter-productive systems and force it upon our customers. Instead of following proper methods, techniques and tools, we use the wrong tool to drive a square peg through a round hole. Instead of trying to match the right person to the right job, we engage the Peter Principle whereby people rise above their level of competency and the cream settles on the bottom as opposed to allowing it to float to the top. We see this in companies and nonprofits where people are promoted to a level exceeding their competency. We also vividly see it in government. Politicians are one of the few professions not required certification or a degree. Doctors, attorneys, engineers and construction workers require certification, as does I.T. workers, auto mechanics and many others, but not politicians, including Congressmen and the President of the United States.

Part of our problem resides in our inability to measure productivity and customer satisfaction in a consistent manner. It is not uncommon for companies to cook the books to make the company look better than it really is (again, due to the lack of standard practices). Instead of analyzing profit margins, companies will report on volume sales (but not products recalled or returned). Instead of analyzing customer satisfaction they rely on industry press clippings. Understand this, even if you have zero defects in your manufacturing systems, but your customers are unsatisfied with your products, you have a disaster in the making. In terms of measuring work, you need to study BOTH inputs and outputs.

There are three alternatives in dealing with incompetence:

1. Acceptance – the reasons are varied, but primarily because we do not know any better and do not wish to upset the status quo, or worse, we feel powerless to fight city hall. Politics and social mores also suggest we should bite our tongues as opposed to resisting incompetence. More than anything though, we have been conditioned to accept mediocrity and inferior workmanship. We no longer applaud the craftsman, but the huckster instead.

2. Change – this represents those people unhappy with the status quo and are willing to try and change it by working lawfully within the system. Unfortunately, they are often impeded by the authorities who want to preserve the current institution.

3. Rejection – two things can happen here; either a person drops out of the system or supports an uprising to radically change the status quo. To illustrate, many young people today are frustrated by the actions (or inactions) of their federal and state governments. Consequently, they opt out by refusing to vote in elections as they see it as a pointless endeavor. The antithesis of this are the people who are willing to take up arms in opposition to the status quo. We saw signs of this recently, such as in Nevada where ranchers stared down the federal government over grazing rights.

Of these three alternatives, “Acceptance” is the most dominant, primarily because people are willing to bow to the status quo whether they like it or not; they simply do not want to fight it and, by doing so, act as a herd of animals (aka “sheeple”).

Perhaps the best way to resist incompetence is to simply voice your concern. In most instances, the powers that be, corporate executives for example, are sheltered from the realities of the world through multiple layers of bureaucracy. As such, they are unaware of customer dissatisfaction or the inadequacies of their systems, until havoc strikes (which is too late). Correspondence or a telephone call to the right person in the corporate hierarchy can work wonders. However, this can only happen if the customer is not apathetic and unwilling to accept incompetence.

I have a friend who recently wanted to renew his annual membership in a local gym which is part of a national chain. The receptionist told him he could either pay month-to-month or purchase a three year membership. When he asked why they abandoned the one year membership program, she claimed they never had such a program. The manager of the gym wasn’t much brighter, but instead of accepting incompetence, my friend bought a one year membership in the local YMCA (for more money I might add). After he told me his story, I urged him to send a letter or e-mail to the gym’s corporate office describing the same story he had just told me. “If executives are unaware of the problem, they will never be able to correct it,” I said, “You would be doing them a favor by bringing this to their attention.” As of today, my friend has yet to receive a “Thank You” of any kind from the company.

In my situation, when I saw the confusion in the ship’s theater, I went down to the excursion desk and asked how to get off the ship. The manager put me in touch with the exit coordinator who promptly got me off the ship. True, a little bitching can go a long way, but it shouldn’t have been necessary to resort to this. The fact remains though, by not accepting incompetence, I was able to control my destiny. Had I not done so, I would have likely missed my golf outing, something I had paid for in advance.

As a consumer, I pay particular attention to incompetent service and warn my friends accordingly, such as bad restaurants, products, maintenance services, and cruise lines. In some instances, this is the only way to fight back.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  SEEKING THE TRUTH – How Lincoln handled the slavery issue.

LAST TIME:  THE “RIGHT” AND “WRONG” OF DESIGN  – Why we need methodologies to support our work effort.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Life, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

THE “RIGHT” AND “WRONG” OF DESIGN

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 21, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

- Why we need methodologies to support our work effort.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

People ask me why I seem to be “black and white” on so many issues. Two reasons come to mind: first, I learned early in school that you do not get credit for making a mistake. If this has changed, please let me know. Second, the nature of my work in the information systems world has taught me there are right ways of doing things, as well as wrong ways. I am also not embarrassed to admit, “I do not know,” when I am unsure of myself, and will endeavor to find the answer. Failure to admit this is a sign of weakness, as is fabricating an excuse or leading someone down the wrong path.

In the many industries I have consulted with, I have learned there are right ways and wrong ways for conducting business:

* In manufacturing, there are defined methodologies for assembling just about any type of product, be it electronics, automobiles, ships, jet engines, or jets themselves. If the manufacturing sequence is not performed correctly, quality will suffer and defects will likely ensue.

* In the restaurant business, there are defined methodologies for cooking and customer service. If the cook mixes up the sequence of the recipe, believe me, you won’t want to eat it.

* The construction industry is no different. Regardless of what you are building, there is a defined sequence of tasks. As a hint, when you are building a house, it is generally a good idea to lay the foundation before you start constructing the roof.

* In information systems, you better have a clear understanding of the information requirements before designing the business processes, data base, work flows, and software. Unfortunately, most systems projects are doomed from the outset as they skip over requirements and begin to program almost immediately.

The lesson here is simple; if you perform the wrong task at the wrong time in a methodology, you are doomed. As any craftsman can tell you, it is not so much about the tools you use as it is about the methodology. Skipping steps represents a calculated risk to the success of a project. Believe it or not, people in the systems field fail to comprehend this simple concept. They are convinced specifying requirements and performing the steps for design is a colossal waste of time, with the the real work being in programming. This is like suggesting we build a bridge without first studying the problem and laying out the architectural plans; that the builders should show up at the job site and begin hammering and cutting the pieces of the bridge together without a set of blueprints. Let’s face it, if we built bridges in the same manner as we build systems in this country, this would be a nation run by ferryboats.

There is a science to building just about anything, be it a skyscraper, a bridge, an automobile, or an information system. It is all based on proven principles of design, it is hardly an artistic endeavor. This is not to suggest design is void of creativity; hardly, but a science is teachable and does not rely on a person’s intuition. Basically, it requires discipline which is something sorely lacking in the IT industry where people prefer “shooting from the hip” as opposed to learning the proper mechanics of a methodology.

As an aside, I have a friend in the art world who teaches illustration at a Midwest College. He too appreciates the need for methodology. As he adamantly instructs his students, it is not simply about starting to draw an illustration using paper and pencil, but the necessary steps for producing a proper graphic. So you see, even in the artwork there are “right” ways and “wrong” ways for doing something. It’s called a “methodology.”

Yes, it really is that “black and white.” Next question?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHY DO WE TOLERATE INCOMPETENCE? – Have we become too apathetic to fight back?

LAST TIME:  DOES AMERICA KNOW HOW TO COOK?  – Believe me, we’re not alone in not knowing.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Management | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

DOES AMERICA KNOW HOW TO COOK?

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 19, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

- Believe me, we’re not alone in not knowing.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have heard a lot of women make the observation the art of baking is dying, that most young people no longer know how to make a loaf of bread, cookies, cakes or pies. There is nothing from “scratch” anymore. I also suspect roasting a chicken or turkey is on the decline. Frankly, I cannot think of anything simpler, but it has become commonplace to purchase roast turkey dinners from grocery stores like Publix and Kroger, as opposed to cooking it yourself. Traditional comfort foods are also disappearing, such as salisbury steak, beef tips and noodles, pork tenderloin, pot roast, chipped beef on toast (SOAS), flank steak, turkey tetrazini, pot pies, or chicken a la king. Soups, stews and chile are also disappearing in favor of canned substitutes. Likewise, fruits and vegetables are seldom cooked fresh, such as brussel sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, snowpeas, etc. As for me, I love stir fried vegetables, particularly in the summer time. Alas, not many people make it anymore, regardless how quickly it can be prepared.

Older people are inclined to cook, but not young people. America is evidently not alone in this regards as I am hearing similar stories from Japan and the Philippines, and I suspect elsewhere around the globe.

There are several reasons for this, the most obvious of which is time limitations. After you have worked all day, you hardly feel up to cooking at night. Even if they have the time to cook, they are unlikely to do so claiming their mothers never taught them. Because parents didn’t assign chores to their offspring in the kitchen, they didn’t pass along the knowledge and traditions of cooking. To my way of thinking though, here is another example of how technology is influencing our behavior. Since most foods are now available in pre-prepared form, or they can be purchased “ready to go” at a fast-food restaurant, they have grown dependent on such things as microwaves, cooking pouches, frozen food, and white bags. The idea of a “home cooked” meal is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and with it goes basic nutrition.

This explains why “family style” restaurants and diners are slowly disappearing. Because our youth have grown up learning to eat on the run, they are more inclined to gravitate to Pop Tarts, hamburgers, french fries, and chicken tenders. The idea of sitting down to a complete meal is simply a foreign concept to them, hence such restaurants are closing their doors one-by-one.

So, is cooking doomed to extinction? Hopefully not. I would argue young people would love to cook, if someone took the time to teach them. The problem is, nobody is doing so. They do not need anything extravagant, just the basic mechanics. I have a friend who owns a family-style restaurant and I am encouraging him to put on some classes at night for young people. Such courses should include such things as how to layout a kitchen, what are all of the basic tools to use, along with how to clean and maintain them. It should also discuss how to shop, and discern what is good and bad (spoiled), how to cut and chop, and some basic meals to live on. The idea would be to encourage them to learn the joys of cooking. As simple as this sounds, it would be a Godsend to young people embarking into the work force. As I tell my friend, it would also be a good way to encourage patronage at the restaurants.

The reason why family style restaurants are declining is not because our tastes are changing, but because of our growing reliance on technology. If we become too addicted to technology, can “Soylent Green” be far away? As for me, I am certainly not an expert in the kitchen but I have always been willing to learn. For me, the biggest challenge was to prepare a full turkey dinner. True, it was a lot of work, but I discovered it was also a lot of fun.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE “RIGHT” AND “WRONG” OF DESIGN – Why we need methodologies to support our work effort.

LAST TIME:  WHEN ARE WE “ON OUR OWN”?  – I thought the magic number was 18?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Food, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

WHEN ARE WE “ON OUR OWN”?

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 16, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

- I thought the magic number was 18?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Last month I was reading about a 21 year old New Jersey woman, Caitlyn Ricci, who sued her parents to pay for her college tuition. Evidently, the family had a stormy past; her mother Maura McGarvey, an English teacher, and Michael Ricci, a high school basketball coach, are divorced and remarried to others. The mother raised Caitlyn in her house until she was 19, whereupon she was turned out for not living by the rules of the house, such as getting a job, performing chores around the house, and going to school. It gets even muddier when you consider Caitlyn’s paternal grandparents are helping her, thereby suing their own son.

Surprisingly, a judge found in Caitlyn’s favor; for the parents to pay her tuition, citing a 1982 New Jersey landmark case where the court ruled divorced parents are responsible for providing for their children’s education. It should be noted, Caitlyn hasn’t lived with either of her parents for the last two years and refuses to have any contact with them. Nonetheless, the parents have been ordered to pay $16,000 for her tuition at an out of state school, Temple. Regardless of the judge’s decision, the father vows not to pay the fee and face contempt charges instead. Understandably, a lot of parents across the country are rallying behind the parents.

This case was similar to the 2013 Rachel Canning case, also from New Jersey. The case made headlines as Rachel sued her parents for college tuition. Like the Ricci case, the family suffered from some severe squabbles regarding the daughter’s conduct at home, and her choice of boyfriend. She later dropped the suit. However, Rachel was back in the news recently, receiving a domestic violence restraining order against the same boyfriend her parents disliked earlier.

Three things come to mine when I read of such cases:

First, we now live in an age where it is difficult to discipline our children, thanks in large part to anti-corporal punishment laws. If the parents own the house, the children are under their rule, not the other way around. I obviously do not know the family dynamics of the Riccis and Cannings, but there is clear evidence there is a breakdown in the family unit. I suspect the parents waited too long to discipline their children. Now they are paying for it.

Second, a college education is a privilege, not a right. If it was an entitlement, the public would be paying for it. They do not, which is why I am puzzled by the 1982 New Jersey law.

And finally, I thought you were recognized as an adult or, at least, of legal age when you turned 18 years old. I even went so far as to look it up:

18 – Age of maturity – (except Alabama (19), Nebraska (19 or upon marriage), Puerto Rico (21) and Mississippi (21))
17 – Age of criminal responsibility
14 – Minimum age to work, 18 – Unrestricted
18 – Marriage
16-17 – The age by which you can leave school (this varies from state to state)
18 – Voting age
21 – Drinking age

Again, this makes me wonder why the parents are being blackmailed into paying for Caitlyn Ricci’s college tuition. She is obviously recognized as a mature independent adult. If she can hire an attorney for such proceedings, she can certainly find the means to pay for her tuition on her own. This case should be thrown out of court. I fail to see how a judge can order the parents to pay for their children if they are legally recognized as “on their own.”

Maybe there is something unique to New Jersey that brings out the worst in people. Then again, maybe we should just file this story under, “Attorneys Gone Wild.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  DOES AMERICA KNOW HOW TO COOK? – Believe me, we’re not alone in not knowing.

LAST TIME:  YOUR DUTIES AS AN EMPLOYEE  – It is more than what is written on paper.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

YOUR DUTIES AS AN EMPLOYEE

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 14, 2015

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

- It is more than what is written on paper.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

In the corporate world, when we join a company, we are normally presented with several documents from the Human Resources department which we are asked to sign. As a newcomer, you would be wise not to rush through this process and review each document carefully. If you have questions, ask. You do not want to be surprised if a problem arises during your employment or afterwards as an ex-employee.

Among the papers are such things as a Policy Manual (aka, “Employee Handbook”) which contains the official rules and regulations employees must adhere to in a company. It includes such topics as Employment, Pay Practices, Benefits, Absence from Work, and Personal Conduct.

There may also be such things as a formal job description, a Code of Ethics describing the morality of the company, a non-compete clause which prohibits you from competing with your employer in the future, and possibly a non-disclosure form stating you will protect the company’s intellectual property.

The paperwork may appear overwhelming, but it is intended to protect the company against employees from violating policy. Beyond this, there are other undocumented duties you would be wise to observe:

* A job description may specify your duties and responsibilities, but it is assumed you will do so to the best of your ability, not your worst or even mediocre. If this means putting in a little more time than normal, than so be it. If you join a company and put forth minimal effort, you are violating your duties and becoming an unwanted burden on the company.

* You should remain loyal to your superiors and, as such, refrain from undermining your manager. If you are unhappy with the manager, ask for a transfer or exit the company’s employment, but do not malign your boss until you have left. I realize there are many incompetent managers out there, but you owe your allegiance to the person(s) who employee you. In other words, you are not being paid to badmouth your boss.

* Pursuant to the last point, beyond your manager, resist the temptation to spread rumors and false innuendo. It is wise to conduct yourself professionally, thereby earning the respect of others. This includes acting and looking professional, keeping your work area clean, and helping others.

* Resist the temptation to engage in political battles with others. Undoubtedly, politics will be found in the workplace and your survival may require you to be sensitive to it, but do not lower yourself to the level of your detractors. If you’ve got a problem, take it to your boss and ask for advice. If your boss is a part of the problem, look for advice either from a higher level or the HR department.

* Constantly look for ways to improve yourself, thereby becoming invaluable to the company. Do not assume the company will pay for your education, this is something you must demonstrate initiative. If possible, participate in trade groups, take supplemental training courses, get certified, read trade related periodicals and books, or perhaps go farther and write a research paper for publication. In most cases, if companies understand you are trying to improve yourself, they will support you and will likely pay for some of your expenses. At the very least, they will recognize your potential and endeavor not to lose you.

The duties and responsibilities as spelled out in your job description is one thing, but companies are looking for you to go beyond them. In other words, fulfilling your duties means to go beyond what is in black and white. If you want to make yourself invaluable, go above and beyond the call of duty. In the process, you’ll make your company a better place to live and work, not just for you but for everyone.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHEN ARE WE “ON OUR OWN”? – I thought the magic number was 18?

LAST TIME:  WHY DO I HAVE TO TAKE THIS COURSE?  – “I’ll never use it in the real world, will I?”

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

WHY DO I HAVE TO TAKE THIS COURSE?

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 12, 2015

BRYCE ON EDUCATION

- “I’ll never use it in the real world, will I?”

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

An old friend in Versailles, Kentucky recently wrote to me. He is a High School math teacher who is tired of hearing the question from his students, “Why do I have to take this course? I will never use it.” This, of course, is a common lament heard by teachers around the world but it seems to be growing in intensity. Students pose the question as they believe it will have no bearing on their lives, particularly due to technology.

Some people question why their children have to memorize multiplication tables since there are so many calculators embedded in computers and smart phones. This would also suggest the end of the slide rule and the abacus. Others question the need to teach spelling as spell checkers will automatically correct errors, and speech recognition software can be used to read text. I guess the future of printed books is dim, right?

The reason for learning these basic concepts is simple: so people do not become dependent on a particular technology and can carry on manually, and; so they can appreciate the effect of technology. To illustrate, I taught system design for many years. My students learned to define information requirements, and from these specifications, decompose a system into its business processes, work flows, and software. The exercises were conducted manually and in teams. At the end, they had produced a complete system design, all remarkably similar. Afterwards I would then show them how this process could be automated using deductive reasoning. When the computer generated the system design, they understood completely what it had done. Not surprising, the computer produced design was no different than the human’s. Again, the intent was to teach the principles and mechanics so they could do it themselves, and so they could appreciate the need for automation.

The obsession with technology though is becoming overbearing. For example, computer graphics programs are having an adverse effect on illustration and artwork in general. Computer Aided Design (CAD) has become an integral part of drafting and blueprinting. Interestingly, I know of a helicopter firm which lost power at its headquarters. Consequently, the company came to a complete standstill, particularly in the engineering department where draftsmen had no idea what to do without the aid of their computers. As an aside, I do not believe any of them understood what a “French Curve” was.

When I was young, I was proud to master the multiplication tables. As kids, we turned it into a competitive game. I also developed my love for reading at the local library. The ability to grasp concepts and ideas is essential for human curiosity, creativity and problem solving. By becoming dependent on technology though, we arrest our mental development. It’s one thing to implement technology based on concepts we grasp, quite another to effectively use technology without an understanding of the concepts. By doing so, we will not challenge the results produced by technology, thereby leaving us exposed to critical error.

So, to the students of my friend’s high school class in Kentucky, “Why do you need to take this course?” No, you may not need it in your professional lives, but you need it to become a thinking and active member of the human race. Even though technology may do the work for you, these classes are critical for your personal mental development. It ultimately provides you with the ability to “carry on” when your technology fails you.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  YOUR DUTIES AS AN EMPLOYEE – It is more than what is written on paper.

LAST TIME:  CULTIVATING A CULTURE OF FEAR AND ANGER  – The tactics of the left.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Education | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

CULTIVATING A CULTURE OF FEAR AND ANGER

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 9, 2015

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- The tactics of the left.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

It is not much of a secret American liberals are not proponents of Capitalism; they do not see it as fair and, instead, there should be a redistribution of the wealth, from the rich to the poor. It is also not much of a secret they abhor American exceptionalism; that we owe certain minorities of our country and the world an apology for our sense of Manifest Destiny. They also seem bent on eliminating God from our culture, steadfastly banning it from schools, government institutions, removing the Bible wherever possible, and censoring the clergy (see Houston). It is also no secret liberals want to replace the U.S. Constitution with something more modern and less restrictive in terms of rights. And finally, the latest twist is to undermine our jurisprudence system in order to allow thuggery to flourish and undermine the safety of the public. By doing so, they wish to radically change the American way of life and make it more dependent on government.

To get their way, the left’s tactics are simple: create a culture of fear and anger in the populace by falsifying facts, spreading innuendo, and establishing false perceptions in the minds of the public. For example, global warming was presented as a legitimate problem, but has since been debunked. The alleged “War on Women” was designed to raise the ire of female voters; this is simply not true but many people fell for it. Also vilified is energy, the rich, big business, and the CIA. Even our history is being challenged and distorted to suit the liberal agenda through such college text books as Howard Zinn’s, “A People’s History of the United States.” It is also becoming more common for college professors to undermine American values, such as asking students to recite an anti-American pledge of allegiance.

The question thereby becomes, are the people being maligned truly perfect, both those in the past and the present? Of course not, as humans we make mistakes but we must persevere and move forward. Yes, some of our mistakes are embarrassing but we should learn from them. In hindsight, would we have done things differently if we were in their shoes? As someone who studies history, there are many events from yesteryear we are not fit to judge, such as Columbus’ landing on the continent, the American Revolution, Stephen Austin’s colonization of Texas, President Polk’s war with Mexico, Harry Truman’s decision to drop the Atomic bomb on Japan, to mention but a few. These people considered all of the variables of the day, made what they considered to be the best decision, and put their best foot forward. This country would likely not be here if we tried to consider every trifling variable before making a decision. Time would not permit it.

Now we are engaged in a racial debate resulting from the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York. In both incidents, there was nothing to indicate racism had anything to do with their deaths. Yet, the media, the President and others are using this to fan the flames of racism and create a “War on Whites.” White Americans are being asked again to be ashamed of the color of their skin and made to feel guilty for the slavery of the 18th and 19th centuries. There has even been rumblings to ban Irving Berlin’s classic holiday song, “White Christmas,” from the airwaves as it may be construed as racist. Nuts.

Why has this suddenly emerged at the forefront of the news? Let us not forget the President lost badly in the mid-term elections; thereby refuting his policies. He now desperately needs something to rally his base and make him relevant again. What better than racism? Despite the Grand Jury decisions, the President has instructed his Attorney General to pursue investigations for the violation of Civil Rights. In other words, he does not accept the Grand Jury system.

The real victim here is the disregard for law and order. The President and Mayor de Blasio of New York would have us believe the police regularly practice racist tactics and are not to be trusted. In reality, the money earmarked for retraining the police would be more wisely spent helping to promote the family unit and moral values of the black community. Instead of promoting racism, the President should be promoting family values and respect for the laws he is sworn to uphold.

Reason no longer has a bearing in today’s world, the truth must be sacrificed. No lie is considered too big or too small to alter the perceptions of the people. Even political correctness is intended to train the populace accordingly. However, the culture of fear and anger cultivated by the left is dangerous. Now, through social media, protesters and rioters are better organized and can communicate more effectively. It also provides the means to trigger a revolt on no less a scale as the Arab Spring of 2012. This would make the 1965 riots of Watts seem miniscule by comparison, as with other protests of the late 1960’s. And with law enforcement falsely maligned as the bad guys, the attacks against them will be vicious.

So, here we reside in a land of lies, a country consisting of willing pawns who no longer trust the rule of law, the rights of others, and respect for authority. The reason for this culture of fear and anger is simple; divide and conquer. The intent is to create doubt and make us feel ashamed of ourselves and our country. At the very least, new allegiances are being formed as well as a new sense of right and wrong. It is also an ideal formula for anarchy.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHY DO I HAVE TO TAKE THIS COURSE? – “I’ll never use it in the real world, will I?”

LAST TIME:  MOVING FROM THEORY Y TO THEORY X  – Transforming a company from empowerment to dictatorship.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

MOVING FROM THEORY Y TO THEORY X

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 7, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

- Transforming a company from empowerment to dictatorship.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Not long ago I wrote on the three fundamental styles of management, “Theories X, Y, Z.” In a nutshell, Theory X represents top-down autocratic rule (e.g., micromanagement); Theory Y represents a bottom-up philosophy where workers are empowered to take on assignments and supervise themselves, and; Theory Z encourages mutual trust between workers and management, and promotes cooperation as opposed to competition.

Locally, I am watching a distributor of manufacturing supplies change its corporate culture from Theory Y to X, and it is a bit disheartening to witness. The distributor is a sales/service outlet for a nationwide chain that has been in existence for 60 years. With the passage of time, a new line of management has emerged which is changing the company to its very roots.

Prior to the latest management regime, the franchise felt empowered, regularly made or exceeded sales quota, and developed a good reputation for service with their customers. Employee morale was good, the staff felt confident and the facilities were kept spotless, particularly the warehouse. On the corporate website they touted their commitment to their customers, such as being highly responsive and offering quality and professional service.

At one time this was true, but over the last year, as the management team changed, policies changed and the company embraced a strong Theory X form of government whereby everyone was managed by some form of metrics. Remarkably, cash flow and customer service was not included. Instead of analyzing sales volume, they focused on product brands sold, number of cold calls made, and telephone calls. There was no interest in product overhead being stored in the warehouse, or length of time. Nor was there concern if there were enough supplies available to adequately accommodate customers within the territory. Veteran sales and support people were demoted to make way for a younger generation with far less experience. Beyond all this, it was made vividly clear to the staff they were to make no decision without the approval of management.

This led to a noticeable decline in morale as employees felt powerless and afraid to make a decision. Consequently, customer service suffered radically. Shipments were sent slowly, sometimes not in accordance with purchase orders. Frankly, employees couldn’t care less. Sales also suffered as the sales staff felt encumbered as to what they could or could not sell. Slowly, a paralysis set in. Not surprising, the employees became apathetic towards their work, the office took on a sloppy appearance, particularly the warehouse, and workers began to move on to other companies.

Whereas employees before felt empowered and in control of their destiny, now they felt useless and their jobs meaningless.

From an outsider’s perspective, it appeared management was setting up the company for failure and takeover by a competitor. The reality though was the young management team honestly believes this bean counter approach to management will work. Maybe they are right, but it is certainly not the type of company I would want to work for. It is very dehumanizing. Then again, young people graduating from college do not know any better and may readily adapt to such a culture. Until the transition is complete, the company will remain in limbo. The question then becomes, how long will their customers accept this? I suspect not for long. Already, sales have slowed radically and customers are transferring to other companies where they are empowered and allowed to make their own decisions.

I’ll be curious to see if the company can survive another year.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  CULTIVATING A CULTURE OF FEAR AND ANGER – The tactics of the left.

LAST TIME:  WELCOMING A NEW CONGRESS  – What to expect over the next two years.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

WELCOMING A NEW CONGRESS

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 5, 2015

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- What to expect over the next two years.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

As is customary, on the third day of January we installed a new Congress, the 114th to be exact. Now, for the first time since 2007, the Republicans control both chambers:

The Senate – 54 GOP – 46 Dems
The House of Representatives – 244 GOP – 188 Dems

The 2014 mid-term elections were generally considered a rebuff of President Obama’s policies which cost several Democratic Congressmen their seats. As Gallup reported, the Democratic Party has lost its luster and people today feel more aligned with Republicans, at least for the moment.

Somehow though I am reminded of the expression, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” There is a lot on our plate and a lot of wrongs to be righted, for example:

The Economy
Immigration
Obamacare
The Budget and Debt
Defense and the War on Terror
Energy

Basically, Americans are not satisfied with the course our country is headed and the Republicans are presently looked upon as the voice of reason. However, they cannot afford to make any mistakes and will have to walk a tight rope with the 2016 presidential election in mind. To compound their problems, they will be placed under intense scrutiny by the main street media who will criticize the slightest hangnail. The Democrats will also dutifully try to derail the Republicans. It will all make for some rather interesting political theater.

To make this work, the Republicans must display a sense of solidarity and professionalism. It is imperative they demonstrate they possess the country’s overall best interests. Will they have all of the answers? Certainly not, but they must exhibit leadership and common sense which the public is yearning for. This is the key for winning in 2016.

Results will be the order of the day, something the public is starving for after four years of gridlock. Harry Reid may no longer be able to delay legislation in the Senate, but the president will likely veto anything that comes before him and will use any excuse to close the government. Although this has hurt the Republicans in the past, if the Congressional leaders play their cards right, it will now backfire on the president and likely assure a Republican president in the next election.

Although the economy is slowly coming around, our Gross Domestic Product is still at a paltry 3.9%, a far cry from what we are capable of doing, and business is impeded by a stifling high corporate tax rate (40%). We are also no closer to energy independence than we were six years ago which keeps us embroiled in military conflict in the Middle East. And I cannot think of anything more divisive to public opinion than our immigration policies. It would also be nice to see us manage within our means and balance the budget, thereby helping to reduce the debt.

These problems are so massive and complicated, the Congress will probably not be able to scratch the surface, particularly facing opposition from the White House. The fact remains though, we have to start somewhere and it will be a difficult journey, but we have to start.

As always, Congressmen will be asked to take the oath of office:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

To me, it is comforting to note the importance of the Constitution and God in the oath. If our Congressmen can ever be mindful of it, we might just be able to get a few things done.

Now let’s get to work.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MOVING FROM THEORY Y TO THEORY X – Transforming a company from empowerment to dictatorship.

LAST TIME:  2014 YEAR-END WRAP-UP  – My most popular columns this year.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

2014 YEAR-END WRAP-UP

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 19, 2014

BRYCE ON LIFE

- My most popular columns this year.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

This is my last column for the year as I prepare to enjoy the holidays and rest up for 2015. As has become customary, I’m going to use this opportunity to review my top essays from the past year.

As you know, I write on a variety of subjects, such as management, systems, technology, social issues, politics, and observations of our changing world. Sometimes my work is instructional and informative, other times it is controversial or humorous. I certainly hope it isn’t boring. By the number of subscribers I have, their comments, and the hits I have on my web site, I do not believe this is the case.

For my year-end column, I researched my statistics to see which were my most popular articles and speculate on their popularity. Herein, therefore, are my “greatest hits” for 2014.

SAYING GOODBYE TO A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER

Without a doubt, this was my #1 column of the year. In it I described the passing of two high school teachers who had a profound effect on me. This allowed me to comment on the long term effect teachers have on their students. True, many of my classmates enjoyed it, but I also heard from several teachers and students on this one. I evidently hit a nerve.

BEWARE OF A PERIOD AND TWO SPACES

This column discussed the use of punctuation in a job resume. Frankly, I was surprised by how popular it became with the public. Those who took typing classes years ago could particularly relate to it.

RETIREMENTLAND

This was a personal favorite of mine where I provided a tongue-in-cheek description of what retirement is really like. I received considerable e-mails on this one, most loving it, others resenting how accurate I was in describing the various retirement activities.

THE OBAMA JUKEBOX

I write a lot of political commentary, but this was my most popular as people could relate to the sound bites the president regularly serves up, and how they should be translated.

LIFE IS UNFAIR

Here, I provided a humorous description of the “Murphy’s Laws” that regularly drive us crazy. The public enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.

IT’S ME, RIGHT?

A political piece laced with humor. This was another favorite of mine, and a column several people could relate to. One reader said, “So funny Tim – But maybe entirely too true.”

MORE EVIDENCE OF TECHNOLOGY ADDICTION

This is part of an on-going series of articles where I discuss the dangers of technology addiction. I believe this is something many people tend to overlook.

BUILDING TEAM MORALE THROUGH LEADERSHIP

As part of my consulting practice, I wrote this essay which was derived from management concepts in the acclaimed movie, “Twelve O’Clock High.” These simple concepts were taught by the military for many years following World War II.

IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICE

Another essay from my consulting practice where I discussed the need for customer service. This generated substantial comments.

ITALIAN RED SAUCE – IT’S PASSIONATE

This was an unusual column where I discussed the unique taste of Italian Red Sauce, and that everyone claims to have the best recipe. I received considerable comments on this one (most purporting to have the best sauce).

Through my hit counters, I also discovered what my most popular column was prior to 2014. Far and away, it was:

THE REMINGTON RAND ADDING MACHINE, MODEL 41013-10

I’m not sure why this was so popular, as I was describing an ancient adding machine we had in our office. Evidently, it was the same type of machine many other people used in the past. I believe they missed its simplicity, effectiveness, and sound.

For me personally, 2014 will best be remembered as the release of my “Bryce’s Uncommon Sense” series of books, where I discussed politics, management, change, and the American character.

I want to thank all of my readers who commented on my columns this year, both in print and on the radio. Although I may not have time to respond to everyone, rest assured I read all of your comments, both good and bad. Thank you. It’s nice to know people are listening.

Happy New Year.

Keep the Faith!

NOTE: My column will return January 5th

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WELCOMING A NEW CONGRESS – What to expect over the next two years.

LAST TIME:  FINDING PERFECTION IN IMPERFECTION  – Beware of the perfect potato chip, peanut, or person.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,535 other followers