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INDIFFERENCE IN CUSTOMER SERVICE

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 31, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– It’s bad business, but does anyone care anymore?

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

Customer Service is generally regarded as the “front-line” for any business. It is their responsibility to service the customer, answer questions, expedite problems and keep the customer happy, thereby encouraging repeat business. It is intended to make money, not lose it. At least, in theory, that is what it is supposed to be.

Not long ago we decided to switch banks, which is no small decision for any company to make. We had grown weary of how our old bank was “nickel and diming” us to death on frivolous charges. Even though we would call to complain, they were slow to correct problems. Such incidents occurred so frequently we decided to take our business elsewhere, but before doing so we gave the bank one last chance by telling them if these trivial matters didn’t cease we would be forced to withdraw our account from their bank, to which the customer service rep said indifferently, “Okay.” We then exited stage right and opened a new account in another bank which we have been pleased with so far.

A few months after we moved, a manager from the old bank called to say he noticed we had moved our account and what they could do to get our business back. We politely told him it was too late, but he should look into getting some new customer service reps.

A similar incident happened with our garbage collection service. Their rates slowly rose to a point where we started to look for another less expensive service. We called our current service and talked to a customer service rep to ask what they could do about lowering their rates. She wouldn’t budge. We said we then had no alternative but to go with another service, to which she said “Okay” and hung up. Again, about a month after we canceled the service, a manager called to ask why we had left them. We explained the problem and the response from his customer service rep.

I have a friend who is a sales manager for a large distributor of industrial supplies. He primarily hustles around the area meeting new customers and checking on existing ones. After a customer is established, they can call in orders, large or small, to the main office who should promptly process and ship accordingly. One day, late on a Friday afternoon, a customer called in a small order for a box of tape. Since it was late in the day on the last day of the work week, the customer service rep figured the order could wait until Monday morning. He thought wrong. The box of tape, as innocuous as it seemed, was actually very much needed by the customer. When he didn’t get it in time, he became very upset and the company lost the customer forever. This did not sit well with my friend who had to discipline the customer service rep for the snafu.

Customers do not like to be taken for granted. They want to be assured their best interests are being maintained by their vendors. From this perspective, “Okay” is not okay. The only excuse for indifference in customer service is when the customer is becoming more trouble than he is worth. Even then, he may affect sales simply from a reference point of view. This also means maintaining the status quo will not suffice. Regardless of the policies and procedures in place, customer service reps need to go beyond the call of duty to keep the customer happy. It is what we used to call “hustle.” In other words, they cannot afford to go on automatic, but rather think and take charge of the situation.

Let me give you an example, a few years ago I was flying on American Airlines from Tampa to Seattle, with a connection in Dallas. This was an important business call as I had a sales presentation to make. Understandably, I became upset when the Tampa flight left unexpectedly late. As I arrived in Dallas, I realized I was going to miss my connecting flight. Consequently, I was instructed to get in line to talk to a customer service agent, a line which moved painfully slow and my temper began to rise noticeably. So much so, an older agent read the rage in my face and asked me to step out of line and over to the counter where she was working. Before I could give her a piece of my mind, she raised her hand calmly and said, “Stop. I will take care of you.” I explained my problem and, to her credit, she had me
rerouted and solved my problem. I found it remarkable how she was able to read me and defused the situation. She did it professionally and, frankly, with a lot of class. So much so, she turned a hostile customer into a happy one. I think her maturity and experience had a lot to do with it, but “Okay” was not okay with her, nor was the status quo. The process didn’t solve the problem, it was her personality and socialization skills that saved the day.

Originally published: May 24, 2010

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:  LEGISLATING POLITICAL CORRECTNESS – Will the latest round of political correctness change our attitudes?

LAST TIME:  DEAR NY GOVERNOR CUOMO…  – About those preposterous “START-UP NY” television ads of yours.

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 »

DEAR NY GOVERNOR CUOMO…

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 29, 2015

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– About those preposterous “START-UP NY” television ads of yours.

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

Dear Governor Andrew Cuomo,

Over the last two years I have watched your “START-UP NY” television ads encouraging companies to move to New York. As a Floridian, I am baffled by the ads. I understand your intent of providing dozens of Tax Free Zones near universities and schools, to entice businesses and stem the exit of 100,000 people and jobs leaving your state each year, but is your program really working? Your major incentive is to allow businesses to move to New York where they can work tax free for ten years. At the end of this period, the exorbitant corporate taxes will spring back into effect causing companies to exit again. You will also defer state income taxes for workers for five years, but here in Florida we have no state income tax whatsoever, plus we’re in a “Right to Work” state. There is also considerably more red tape and bureaucracy in your state as opposed to ours. Let us also not forget the differences in climate, where Florida doesn’t suffer from the Arctic weather conditions New York does. So please carefully explain to me why a Floridian would want to move to New York when more people, companies, and opportunities are moving to our state and not yours?

What has been the result of your campaign so far? I’m told “START-UP NY” claims 110 businesses participate in the program, pledging 3,150 jobs. Are these real jobs or just pledged? I read a report your State Comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, recently produced claiming the program is a disaster. His report follows a review by the Albany Bureau of “START-UP NY” which found the campaign cost $53 million since its inception in 2013, and produced a measly 76 jobs. The Associated Press (April 3, 2015) also reported, “The agency reported another 26 businesses have been approved so far this year, while 12 have withdrawn applications. The largest group of approved companies is 37 in Buffalo and western New York. Another 15 are on Long Island, seven in New York City and seven in the Southern Tier.”

For the millions of dollars New Yorkers are paying for this campaign, and the minimal results, this doesn’t sound very cost effective does it?

You are not alone though. Connecticut’s Governor Malloy raised taxes a second time, after he promised he wouldn’t, in excess of $1 billion, a new record. Between increases in real estate and corporate taxes, people are fleeing the Constitution State, and, No, they are not moving to New York to face the same financial burden.

However, Florida Governor Scott is visiting Connecticut and other states to encourage businesses to move to the Sunshine State. His selling points are simple: “Florida has no state income tax, and has cut taxes more than 40 times over the last four years. Unlike Connecticut, Florida is a right-to-work state, with no estate or gift tax. If you’re a business that wants to pay less taxes so you can earn more money, come to Florida.” No doubt he also mentions the lack of snow in our state.

Let me offer some simple advice; first, stop showing those ridiculous “START-UP NY” ads. They are demonstratively ineffective and waste the taxpayer’s money. Second, offer a business friendly environment, such as Delaware and Florida, where corporate taxes are reduced, income taxes are eliminated, and become a “Right to Work” state. Third, cut the waste and spending in your state and learn to live within your means. By doing so, businesses and jobs will return, or at least you will have stopped the massive desertions from New York. Sorry, but I cannot help you with the weather. I do not believe palm trees will survive your winters.

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:  INDIFFERENCE IN CUSTOMER SERVICE – It’s bad business, but does anyone care anymore?

LAST TIME:  WHY THE LEFT HATES DONALD TRUMP  – And, No, it has nothing to do with his hair.

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 Government, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

WHY THE LEFT HATES DONALD TRUMP

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 27, 2015

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– And, No, it has nothing to do with his hair.

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

On June 16th, real estate mogul and celebrity businessman Donald Trump threw his hat into the ring as a candidate for president of the United States. This immediately set liberals into a frenzy and the inevitable jokes about his hair and some of his comments became the butt of jokes. Even the television talking heads snickered at his announcement and dismissed his chances for success. The levity was short lived though as the polls in New Hampshire suddenly showed Trump surging in the state.

The left claims Mr. Trump’s announcement was nothing more than an obnoxious publicity stunt, and characterized him as a buffoon who shouldn’t be taken seriously. Hardly. Trump is the one candidate the left is most afraid of, and for good reason; he is a serious contender, well financed, and represents the polar opposite of the left.

In the coming campaign, liberals will portray Trump as politically incorrect. Maybe, but he is more results oriented and less concerned with making a faux pas, something very appealing to voters frustrated with the gridlock in Washington. Others will portray him as an icon of big business and “trickle-down” economics. The fact remains, Trump has created thousands of jobs for people due to his entrepreneurship. He is admittedly pro-life and anti-gun control, two areas the left despise. Yet, he is a philanthropist and has donated generously to a variety of charities. Bottom-line, he is a confirmed capitalist who understands the value of work and, as such, represents a deterrent to the socialist agenda. The left’s visceral attacks on him suggest they are not only scared of him, but are jealous of his success as well.

Where liberals miss the mark is underestimating the public’s frustration and lack of confidence in our government today. According to a recent Rasmussen poll (June 22, 2015), only 28% of Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction. Likewise, a recent Gallup Poll (June 23, 2015) lists U.S. economic confidence at -9.

Taking note of the success of the fiery speech made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last March before a special joint meeting of Congress, Trump is taking on the roll of a tough-talking, no-nonsense New Yorker. Recognizing America wants a fighter without the usual political spin, he is quickly becoming the voice of the people who are sick of the status quo in Washington and do not trust political elites such as Mrs. Clinton. He may not be the most eloquent orator, but he is going to tell it as he sees it, which is rather refreshing to voters. During his campaign announcement, Trump told the audience several things they could identify with, such as:

“Our country is in trouble.”
“America has become the dumping ground for the world’s problems”
“We have all the cards, but we don’t know how to play them.”
“We are going to make our country great again.”

Such messages resonate with voters as they realize the country is following the wrong path.

Donald Trump is hitting a nerve with voters, not just in New Hampshire but across the country. This explains why the left will go to any length to assassinate his character. They will try to discredit his every move and word, even going so far as to intentionally misquote him. Unlike most of his GOP competitors, Mr. Trump is not a politician (neither is Dr. Ben Carson), but a businessman who understands the world, people, negotiations, and what is necessary to succeed. This means his rhetoric will be noticeably different than the other candidates.

Does Mr. Trump possess a huge ego? What politician or successful businessman doesn’t? Frankly, I am more interested in results.

Liberals and the press giggled when Trump announced he would build a wall along our southern border and have Mexico pay for it. They thought it was hysterical. However, let’s suppose Trump pulled it off, as he has done with other ventures people scoffed at, who would be doing the laughing then? Again, this is the difference between a businessman and a politician. We’ve tried a community organizer, oil men, a peanut farmer and professional politicians, all with minimal success; voters may very well be ready to give a successful businessman a chance.

Do not expect Trump to take liberal criticisms sitting down. He appears to be willing to fight back as he has both the disposition and financial resources to do so. Next time you hear a joke about his hair, just remember it is an attempt to conceal the liberal agenda. If that is all the left has, Trump will only gain momentum.

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:  DEAR NY GOVERNOR CUOMO… – About those preposterous “START-UP NY” television ads of yours.

LAST TIME:  WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CIVICS?  – Is it gone with the wind?

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: , , , , | 13 Comments »

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CIVICS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 24, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Is it gone with the wind?.

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

Something you don’t hear much about anymore in American classrooms is “Civics” which was intended to teach the basic duties and responsibilities of citizens. Sometimes the class was called “American Government” as well. Regardless, the intent was to teach the mechanics of our government and citizenship. Unfortunately, you don’t hear too much about Civics anymore, which is a pity as I believe there are a lot of people operating without even a basic understanding of what is going on in this country. This is why I believe everyone should be certified to be a citizen rather than just by birth right.

In my Civics class, we discussed the various branches and levels of government, how legislation was processed, serving on juries, and of course the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. The Declaration is a pretty impressive document, but to me, the Constitution is one of the most brilliant inventions ever devised by man, particularly when you consider the political climate of the time when it was written. Its three branches of government, with its checks and balances, was a bold experiment, yet, when you read it, you are struck by the simple common sense embodied within it.

James Madison is generally regarded as the “Father of the Constitution” as he took the lead in its development. Madison’s education concentrated on such subjects as languages, philosophy, and speech. His studies also included a few law classes, but he never gained admission to the bar. So, here you have the principal author of our government’s most important document who is more skilled in communications than in law. This is in sharp contrast to today’s Congressmen who are more likely to be lawyers as opposed to any other occupation. Consider this, the original U.S. Constitution was written on just four pages, less the Bill of Rights which was handled separately. Admittedly, these were rather large pages by today’s standards, but it was still four pages in length. Compare this to the recent Health Insurance Reform Bill which was over 2,000 pages long; even the summary was 121 pages. It kind of makes you wonder what today’s Congress would have produced had they been charged with Madison’s responsibility. I can’t help but believe I would prefer the simplicity and directness of Madison’s version instead.

As an aside, I find it rather strange the Constitution has become an icon associated with conservatism in this country. It should be a symbol for all of us.

One of the most important lessons stressed in my Civics class was the need for people to become active and responsible citizens. It didn’t preach disobedience, treachery or anarchy, although this was certainly described. Instead, it discussed the duties of the citizens such as enacting changes through peaceful means, e.g., the ballot box. When I go to my polling station today, I get the uneasy feeling that a lot of people do not know what they’re doing there and what they should be voting for or against. To me, this is downright scary.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, people take their civic responsibilities too lightly. Most are uneducated. In the absence of a bona fide Civics class, people should be required to at least pass the citizenship test as published by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

More than anything, our Civics class taught us that citizenship is something to be prized, and not taken for granted. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s this way anymore, which is why we have a general flippant attitude towards government and a belief that “someone else is pulling the strings.” Interestingly, it is the American public that still pulls the strings, but with the passing of such things as Civic classes, we’ve forgotten how to do it.

Originally published: May 17, 2010

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 THE LEFT HATES DONALD TRUMP – And, No, it has nothing to do with his hair.

LAST TIME:  THE MEDIA’S SELECTIVE HEARING – And, No, it has nothing to do with his hair.

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 Government, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

THE MEDIA’S SELECTIVE HEARING

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 23, 2015

BRYCE ON THE MEDIA

– People hear only what the media wants them to hear; take the Trump interview for example.

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

I have always marveled at the power of the press and how they can manipulate public opinion (or is it spin?). People hear only what the media wants them to hear. To illustrate, I’ll use Donald Trump’s recent interview at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa on July 18th. You know, the one that allegedly cast aspersions against Senator John McCain.

First, let’s be honest, did you hear the nine second sound bite the press used, or did you listen to the full interview? Click HERE for the full interview. Most people have only heard the short sound bite and are unaware of what was truly said. Instead, they relied on the media’s interpretation of the interview with the inflammatory remarks.

Here is the media’s nine second sound bite –

TRUMP: “He (McCain) is not a war hero…”

INTERVIEWER: “He’s a war hero. Five and a half years in a POW camp…”

TRUMP: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, okay?”

Now let’s compare it to the full version with the section referring to John McCain (3:24) –

INTERVIEWER: “…but referring to people as rapists; referring to John McCain, a war hero, five and a half years as a POW, you call him a dummy. Is that appropriate in running for president?”

TRUMP: “You’ve got to let me speak though Frank as you interrupt all the time. So, No, I know him too well, that’s the problem. Let’s take John McCain. I’m in Phoenix. We have a meeting that is going to have 500 people at the Biltmore Hotel. We get a call from the hotel, it’s turmoil. Thousands and thousands of people are showing up, three or four days before. They’re pitching tents on the hotel grass. The hotel says we can’t handle this because it’s going to destroy the hotel. We move it to the convention center. We have 15,000 people, the biggest one ever, bigger than Bernie Sanders, 15,000 people showed up to hear me speak, bigger than anybody, and everybody knows it. A beautiful day with incredible people that were wonderful, great Americans, I will tell you. John McCain goes, ‘Oh boy, Trump makes my life difficult, he had 15,000 crazies show up.’ Crazies; he calls them all crazy. I said they weren’t crazy, they were great Americans, these people, if you were to see these people, you…; I know what crazy is, I know all about crazies, these weren’t crazies. So, he insulted me and he insulted everybody in that room, and I said, somebody should run against John McCain who has been, you know, in my opinion, not so hot, and I supported him, I supported him for president. I raised a million dollars for him, it’s a lot of money; I supported him, he lost and let us down. But, you know, he lost. So, I never liked him as much after that because I don’t like losers. But Frank, let me get to it…”

INTERVIEWER: “But he is a war hero; he’s a war hero…”

TRUMP: “He is not a war hero…”

INTERVIEWER: “He’s a war hero. Five and a half years in a POW camp…”

TRUMP: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, okay? I hate to tell you. Do you agree with that?”

INTERVIEWER: “He is a war hero…”

TRUMP: “…because he was captured. Okay? Perhaps he is a war hero, but right now he has said some very bad things about a lot of people. So what I said is, John McCain I disagree with him that these people are crazy, and very importantly, and I speak the truth, he graduated last in his class at Annapolis. So I said, nobody knows that, I said he graduated last or second to last, he graduated last in his class at Annapolis, and he was upset. I said, Why? For telling the truth? See, you’re not supposed to say that somebody graduated last or second to last in their class, because you’re suppose to be like Frank says, very nice. Folks, I want to make America great again; we want to get down to brass tacks. We don’t want to listen to his stuff with being politically correct, and everything…, we have a lot of work to do. Frank, the other day Hillary Clinton got up, and she said ‘I didn’t like Mr. Trump’s tone.’ We have people, Christians, having their heads cut off in the Middle East. We have people dying all over the border, that’s where I was right, 100% right. We have all this like Medieval times and she said, ‘I didn’t like his tone.’ And you know who else said this? Jeb Bush, ‘I didn’t like his tone.’ What does it have to do with tone? We want results; this group wants results, they don’t want tone.”

So what did we learn from the full interview? First, Trump had a positive relationship with McCain in the past, even going so far as to donate $1,000,000 to McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008. Second, the relationship soured when McCain made the “crazies” comment. Third, Trump made a flippant comment about McCain as a war hero. If you listen to the audio section carefully, you realize Trump was trying to be entertaining as he had through most of the interview. None of this came through the nine second sound bite, which was the effect the media was hoping to achieve. Trump may not be the most articulate speaker, but as a businessman he wants results and the audience reacted positively in this regard. Bottom-line, this incident was much ado about nothing, and the media turned it into something to suit their needs. I’m not sure who owes who an apology, but I suspect it is the liberal press to American voters.

The liberal media has a love/hate relationship with Donald Trump. Because they are working for the Democrats, they certainly do not want him as president, but they love him for increasing their viewership. Think about it, without Trump there would be little to talk about regarding the Republican presidential race. Trump is even overpowering Mrs. Clinton’s public image, as well as the rest of the Democrats. He has single-handedly preempted their exposure as candidates. Any attempt by the other GOP candidates to criticize Trump is a desperate attempt to ride his coattails for publicity. This all makes for great political theater. No wonder Trump’s standings in the polls keep rising.

If Trump’s tactics of no-nonsense straight-talking succeeds, he will change the dynamics of political campaigning. Frankly, he has a chance as people are tired of political correctness and desperately want leadership and results.

One last note about the Ames, Iowa interview; did you know Trump received a standing ovation for his remarks? No, I didn’t think so; the press didn’t want you to know about it. Nor do they want you to know the truth about a lot of things. As we should all know by now, whoever controls the information, controls public opinion.

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 THE LEFT HATES DONALD TRUMP – And, No, it has nothing to do with his hair.

LAST TIME:  THE USDA’S SYSTEM SNAFU  – Another example of government waste and incompetence in building systems.

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 Media, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

THE USDA’S SYSTEM SNAFU

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 22, 2015

BRYCE ON SYSTEMS

– Another example of government waste and incompetence in building systems.

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

Another major system snafu was recently reported by the press, “$444 Million Later, USDA Only Achieved 1.5 Percent of its Goal to Update IT System,” (Washington Free Beacon – June 4, 2015). The project was sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and reported to be two years late, $140 million over budget, achieved only 1.5% of its goals, and finally scrapped. Footing the bill for the disaster was, of course, the American taxpayer.

Named, the “Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems” (MIDAS), the system was intended to replace an earlier system, “Web Farm,” which tracked information on farmers receiving aid from the USDA’s 31 programs.

According to a recent audit by the Office of Inspector General (OIG):

“In response to a longstanding need to modernize the delivery of farm programs, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) initiated a business enterprise solution called Modernize and Innovate the Delivery of Agricultural Systems (MIDAS). FSA reported to Congress in 2010 that $305 million would allow it to consolidate its 31 farm programs into MIDAS by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2012.

MIDAS is 2 years overdue and approximately $140 million over budget and has not delivered the promised enterprise solution. As of April 1, 2015, FSA had obligated over $444 million to this project and had retired only 1 of the 66 applications which were to be replaced by MIDAS. By 2022, the program is projected to have a total cost of nearly $824 million. In July 2014, Secretary Vilsack directed that future MIDAS development cease.”

The OIG’s biggest finding from their audit was, “MIDAS is Overdue and Over Budget Because of Ineffective Project Management and Oversight.”

This is only partially correct. Understanding and applying the mechanics of project management is one thing, devising a road map to travel to your destination is another. From the audit, it was apparent the project lacked a systems design methodology to define the work breakdown structure, deliverables, and review points. Not surprising, developers were allowed to do whatever they wished with no direction. In an attempt to reign in control over the project, they kept reducing the scope to try and break it into more manageable pieces. The fact remains, you cannot effectively perform project management without an overall methodology. As we like to say, “Having a Project Management system without a methodology is like attaching a speedometer to an orange crate; it measures nothing.”

Even though I know nothing about the system, other than what I have read in the audit, I can conclude the system suffered from such things as:

Poorly defined requirements – According to the audit, “The current project manager stated that, at that time, there were only high-level project requirements defined and those were never put into a detailed system requirement specifications document for the project.” Without a proper set of requirements, what in the heck are you building? This means the developers wasted considerable time second-guessing what was needed. This, of course, lead to a plethora of “do-overs.”

No analysis of the current system – Had developers truly understood the aging “Web Farm” system, they would have known the requirements they supported, the data collected and calculated within the system, its strengths and weaknesses, the business processes involved, and could have devised an effective transition plan. It seems rather obvious this was simply not done.

No test criteria or test plan – According to the OIG audit, there were numerous known defects in the new system, which caused users to become dissatisfied. Both the test criteria and test plan should have been devised earlier in the project so programmers understood how their programs should perform.

No documentation – Although it wasn’t specifically mentioned in the audit, I suspect no documentation of any substance was ever devised. Without a set of blueprints, what in God’s name are you trying to build? Or is this based solely on the builder’s intuition? Obviously, documentation is needed for designing the product, as well as for maintenance and modification purposes later on.

Data redundancy – if there is no documentation, it is safe to assume data redundancy plagued the system. If the data is “dirty,” the information produced will be inconsistent and unreliable.

Here is what I believe happened with the system: They took a software approach for designing MIDAS as opposed to a system approach. For example, they probably created a data base quickly, then tried to figure how to get data in and out of it. I would suspect the program source code was well written, probably using “Agile” techniques, but the fact remains none of it was designed to work in a concerted manner.

If you were to ask the MIDAS developers why they didn’t concentrate on the important up-front planning and design phases, they would probably lament, “We do not have time to do things right”; Translation: “We have plenty of time to do things wrong.” Had they spent more time in the initial design stages, there would have been less second-guessing, and the system would have likely come in on-time and within budget. The eternal question, to me, is why do people prefer to do things wrong? The truth is, today’s systems developers do not get it, do not want to get it, and never will get it, which explains why we will never be able to build enterprise-wide systems again. Even if they did “get it,” they wouldn’t understand it as they simply do not care.

What occurred at the USDA is typical of the systems being built in this country today. For example, the highly touted Obamacare Health Care system was also well over budget, late, and cost taxpayers in excess of $400 million. This could have been done more competently and at greatly reduced expense.

Aside from not possessing the expertise to perform this work, developers simply do not want to, preferring to try and program their way to success. After watching this for forty years, I can tell you authoritatively, “It doesn’t 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:  WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CIVICS? – Is it gone with the wind?

LAST TIME:  1976 REDS VERSUS 1927 YANKEES  – Which was the best team in Major League Baseball?

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 Systems, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

1976 REDS VERSUS 1927 YANKEES

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 20, 2015

BRYCE ON BASEBALL

– Which was the best team in Major League Baseball?

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One of the favorite arguments among baseball aficionados is, “What Major League team is considered the greatest of all time?” Inevitably, the 1976 Cincinnati Reds is matched against the 1927 New York Yankees, two great teams from different eras. First, I would like to make my case for the Reds as I was fortunate to have watched them during the 1970’s. I also have a fondness for the Yankees, particularly this legendary group from the 1920’s who dominated the baseball world in their heyday.

1976 Cincinnati Reds – nicknamed “The Big Red Machine” (1970-1976)
Won two back-to-back World Series titles (1975-1976). Was in the World Series four times during this period. The team’s combined record from 1970-1976 was 683 wins and 443 losses, an average of nearly 98 wins per season. In 1976, their record was 102-60, a record for the time. During the 1976 All-Star Game, the Reds dominated by having five players in the starting line-up, Bench, Rose, Morgan, Foster, and Concepción. Also in 1976, they swept the New York Yankees in the World Series 4-0, with an accumulated score of 22-8.
The team was best known for its speedy offense and “Gold Glove” defense.

Starting players:

Johnny Bench (C) –
Hall of Fame. Reds retired his number, 5
1970 and 1972 NL MVP (same years the Reds went to the World Series).
1976 World Series MVP.
MLB All-Century Team.
MLB All-Time Team.
All-Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team.
14 time All Star.
10 time Gold Glove.
1970 NL HR Champ (45)
1972 NL HR Champ (40)
NL Rookie of the Year (1968).
Career HR: 389.
Career RBI: 1,376.
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.
Babe Ruth Award.
Hutch Award.
In 1976, 16 HR, 74 RBI.

Dave Concepción (SS) –
Reds retired his number, 13.
9 time All Star; MVP (1982).
5 time Gold Glove winner.
In 1976, .281 average, 21 stolen bases.

George Foster (LF) –
1977 NL MVP.
5 time All Star; MVP (1976).
2 time NL home run champ (1977, 1978).
3 time NL RBI champ (1976-1978).
Silver Slugger Award (1981).
In 1976, .306 average, 172 hits, 29 HR, 121 RBI.

César Gerónimo (CF) –
Four consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1974 to 1977
In 1976, .307 average, 22 stolen bases.

Ken Griffey (RF) –
3 time MLB All-Star; MVP in 1980
In 1976, .336 average, 189 hits, 34 stolen bases.

Joe Morgan (2B) –
Hall of Fame. Reds retired his number, 8.
1975 and 1976 NL MVP (same years the Reds won the World Series).
10 time All Star; MVP (1972).
5 time Gold Glove.
Silver Slugger Award.
In 1976, .320 average, 151 hits, 60 stolen bases.

Tony Perez (1B) –
Hall of Fame. Reds retired his number, 24.
7 time All-Star; MVP 1967.
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.
Career HR: 379.
Career RBI: 1,652.
In 1976, 19 HR, 91 RBI.

Pete Rose (3B) “Charlie Hustle” –
1973 NL MVP.
1975 World Series MVP.
17 time All Star. Won 1970 All-Star Game.
2 time Gold Glove.
Silver Slugger Award.
3 time batting champion (Silver Bat Awards).
Career Hits: 4,256 (MLB Hits King).
NL hitting streak record (44).
NL Rookie of the Year (1963).
MLB All-Century Team.
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.
Roberto Clemente Award.
Most seasons of 200 or more hits – 10 (shared).
Only player in major league history to play more than 500 games at five different positions – 1B (939), LF (671), 3B (634), 2B (628), RF (595)
And many other MLB records.
In 1976, .323 average, 215 hits.

Gary Nolan (P) –
1972 All Star.
Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Sparky Anderson – Manager –
Hall of Fame. His #10 was retired in Cincinnati.
3 times World Series champion; twice with the Reds and once with the Detroit Tigers.
He was the first manager to win championships in both the National and American Leagues.
American League Manager of the Year in 1984 and 1987.

The unsung hero of the Reds was their General Manager, Bob Howsam, who helped engineer the team. As GM, he built up the club’s farm system, producing players such as Concepcion and Griffey. In 1971, he crafted a deal with the Houston Astros which brought Morgan, Foster and Geronimo to the Reds. He was also the man who replaced veteran manager Dave Bristol with an unknown, Sparky Anderson.

1927 New York Yankees – nicknamed “Murderers’ Row” (1926–1928)
Won two back-to-back World Series titles (1927-1928). Was in the World Series three years in a row.In 1927, their record was 110–44, a record for the time.Also in 1927, they swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series 4-0, with an accumulated score of 23-10.
The team was best known for its awesome batting.

Starting players:

Pat Collins (C) –
Capable catcher but was traded after the 1927 season.
In 1927, .275 average.

Earl Combs (OF) –
Hall of Fame by Veterans Committee.
Lead off batter.
In 1927, .356 average, 231 hits.

Joe Duggan (3B) –
Finished his career with a .957 fielding percentage as a third baseman.
In 1927, .269 average.

Lou Gehrig (1B) “The Iron Horse” –
Hall of Fame. First player to have his uniform number retired in MLB, 4.
1927 AL MVP, same year as winning the World Series, and 1936.
7 time All Star.
Triple Crown winner (1934).
AL Batting Champ (1934).
Career HR: 493.
Career RBI: 1,993.
Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games, a record that lasted several years until Cal Ripkin, Jr. or the Orioles broke it in 1995.
MLB All-Century Team.
MLB All-Time Team.
In 1927, .373 average, 47 HR, 175 RBI.

Mark Koenig (SS) –
Batting a team-leading .500 in the 1927 World Series.
In 1926, .285 average, 150 hits, led the AL in errors (47).

Tony Lazzeri (2B) –
Hall of Fame (posthumously by Veterans Committee).
1 time All Star.
Considered one of the top hitting second basemen of his era.
In 1927, .309 average, 102 RBI.

Bob Muesel (OF) –
AL Home run champion (1925).
AL RBI Champion (1925).
In 1927, .337, 174 hits.

Babe Ruth (OF) “The Bambino,” “The Sultan of Swat” –
Hall of Fame. Yankees retired his number, 3.
2 time All Star.
1923 AL MVP.
AL Batting Champion (1924).
AL ERA Champion (1916).
Career HR: 714.
Career RBI: 1,992.
Played on 7 World Series Champion Teams.
Named the greatest baseball player of all time in various surveys and rankings.
MLB All-Century Team.
MLB All-Time Team.
In 1927, .356 average, 60 HR.

Wayte Hoyt (P) –
Hall of Fame by Veterans Committee.
In 1927, 22 game winner, most in AL.

Miller Huggins – Manager
3 times World Series champion with the Yankees.

When you look at the statistics between the two teams, an interesting picture emerges:

STATS BY STARTING LINEUPS

1927 YANKEES 1976 REDS
HITS 1,314 1,284
RBI 749 652
HR 151 118
SB ? 186
SO* 308 525
ERA* 3.192 3.064

* OF THE STARTING ROTATION

1927 YANKEES 1976 REDS
HALL OF FAMERS 4* 4
MVP 2 (3 years) 4 (for 6 years)
ALL-STARS 3 7 (5 became MVP) (69 appearances in total)
ALL-CENTURY 2 2
ALL-TIME 2 1
GOLD GLOVE** N/A 5 (26 GG total)

* Two were awarded by the MLB Veterans Committee.

** Gold Glove started in 1957, after the 1927 Yankees.

From the statistics, the Yankees had a definite edge in terms of batting, which explains how they received the nickname “Murderers’ Row.” Pitchers were simply intimidated by them. Both Ruth and Gehrig had superlative seasons in 1927, particularly in terms of slugging. In addition, five players of the starting rotation batted over .300.

The Reds also had five players of the starting rotation batting over .300, but they also had speed, defense and balanced pitching. Whereas the talent of the Yankees was primarily vested in Ruth, Gehrig, Combs, and Lazzeri, the Reds represent a more complete team of talent.

In reality, this is not about which team is better, but instead, it denotes the attributes of a great team. Both the Reds and the Yankees had truly great players, great coaching, discipline on the field, but also knew how to have fun. Any differences or opposing attitudes were put aside for the sake of the team.

The key though was their ability to play as a cohesive unit, where each player watched the back of the other. This is also a fine example of leadership, where the great players inspired the others to play at a higher level. As role models, they set an example for others to emulate. For example, the friendly competition between sluggers Ruth and Gehrig, resulted in Ruth hitting his record 60 home runs in 1927, and Gehrig gathering 175 RBI. This helped push others like Combs to collect 231 hits, and Muesel and Lazzeri to collect over 100 RBI each.

On the Reds side, players like Bench, Rose, Morgan and Perez led the team. On the field, Bench was the field general who controlled the game. From his vantage point behind home plate, he could see everything and instructed the defense accordingly. Rose and Morgan were the spark plugs who charged the machine into action, and Perez was a mentor to the younger players.

It was much more than just talented players, both teams were examples of leadership determined to achieve greatness.

Regardless whether you prefer the Reds or Yankees, we will probably never see the likes of such teams again in our lifetime.
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 USDA’S SYSTEM SNAFU – Another example of government waste and incompetence in building systems.

LAST TIME:  BACKING UP THE TRUCK  – Whoa, slow down! Let’s not leap before we look.

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 Baseball | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

BACKING UP THE TRUCK

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 17, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Whoa, slow down! Let’s not leap before we look.

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

We have an expression we use around the office whenever we discuss a new idea and someone impulsively acts on it without first thinking it through, we call it “backing up the truck.” This came about several years ago when we were discussing a publicity idea to promote our I.T. related products. Basically, we were thinking of writing a series of white papers on various subjects and mailing them to our customers and key contacts in the industry (e-mail was still in its infancy). At the time, everyone at the meeting agreed it was a good idea but we should sleep on it over the weekend. However, one of our guys took the initiative of calling a paper supplier and, lo and behold, on Monday morning a delivery truck backed up to our offices with a couple of skids of paper. We were all bewildered why the person ordered the paper before a decision had actually been made, hence the expression.

“Backing up the truck” obviously represents a “leap before you look” type of impulsive behavior and, unfortunately, we see too much of it in the corporate world. I think it might be caused by the highly competitive nature of corporate politics whereby people try to scratch and claw their way to the top and seize on any opportunity for recognition. Yes, it is necessary to respond in a timely manner to the pressures of business, but companies can ill-afford a knee-jerk reaction to every problem or opportunity.

Another reason for it may be that we have raised a generation of people who only understand instant gratification and cannot plan their lives beyond 5:00pm. This would suggest they have learned to operate in a constant “fire fighting” mode of operation whereby they react as opposed to plan. In other words, “backing up the truck” is a natural part of their corporate culture.

If the wrong decisions are made, a “backing up the truck” form of behavior can be both costly and destructive. If you are a one-man operation and have supreme confidence in your judgment, than it might be a suitable form of behavior. As for me, I like to think things through. For example, rarely do I ever write and publish an article on the same day, regardless of the easy-to-use publishing tools now available. I have made it a policy to sit on an article for at least 24 hours (including this column), to give me a chance to think about it over night and look at it with a fresh perspective on the following day. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t make a modification to an article as a result of this process, be it large or small. I am therefore more confident in what I am presenting to my readership.

When I fly, I like to see a pilot with a little gray hair. It’s not that I have anything against younger officers, I just feel more comfortable knowing there’s someone in the cockpit who has been around the block a few times, and has the experience to consider all of the alternatives before making a decision, such as Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger. There’s no substitute for experience.

By the way, in our “backing up the truck” example, cooler heads prevailed and the skids of paper were returned to the vendor the next day.

Originally published: May 14, 2015

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:  1976 REDS VERSUS 1927 YANKEES – Which was the best team in Major League Baseball?

LAST TIME:  THE PROBLEM WITH NEWSLETTERS  – Why most end up lining the bottom of bird cages.

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 »

THE PROBLEM WITH NEWSLETTERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 15, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Why most end up lining the bottom of bird cages.

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I have belonged to a plethora of nonprofit organizations over the years, be it related to Information Technology, management, homeowner associations, sports clubs, political groups, fraternal organizations, school clubs, etc. Most, if not all issue a newsletter either monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. Due to rising printing and postal prices, most have gone to an electronic format, be it on the web or in PDF format, which has dramatically cut costs. Regardless, they all pretty much say the same thing.

With rare exception, most newsletters try to put a positive spin on how the club or association is doing. They are typically a public relations piece with the intent of trying to encourage the membership to remain active and attend meetings. As I tend to be intimate with the organizations I participate in, I realize such newsletters offer more facade than substance. They may say everything is great, but the reality is things couldn’t be much worse. Not surprising, participation in nonprofit groups is waning, probably due to the politics involved and changing values. Instead of making meetings meaningful (fun and interesting), most nonprofits have fallen into a rut and do not know how to get out of it.

So, why do nonprofits only report positive trends? They fear their membership would abandon them if they knew what was actually going on. Somehow the quote by Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men” comes to mind, “You can’t handle the truth!” This may be so, but I would like to believe the membership would rally behind a cause if they truly believe in the institution and knew what was really going on.

Knowing the calendar of events and what club awards were presented is one thing, knowing the condition of the club is something entirely different. There is an old expression derived from psychology which states, “You cannot treat a patient if he doesn’t know he is sick.” Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see clubs add to the newsletter financial statements, membership totals, or attendance records, along with commentary by the chief executive? We would at least grasp what was going on and come to the aid of the institution.

In every organization I have been involved with, I have found it important the senior officer report on the condition of the organization at least once a year. This is similar in intent to the President’s State of the Union address. Here, the intention is to come clean with the members by discussing such things as: Membership, Facilities, Participation, Finances, Programs, Sickness and distress, Harmony, Relations with similar groups, Charitable activities, and how well we met our Objectives.

Only by disclosing such items in the newsletter would the members comprehend why a dues increase is being proposed, an assessment, or change in policy.

Because most newsletter do not include such items is why I do not take newsletters seriously; they only tell us what they want us to hear. It also explains why most end up lining the bottom of bird cages.

The best surprise is no surprise.

Related article:
PRODUCING NEWSLETTERS: BEWARE OF THE BIRDCAGE

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:  BACKING UP THE TRUCK – Whoa, slow down! Let’s not leap before we look.

LAST TIME:  THE GOLDEN ERA OF AMERICA (1945-1960)  – One of our greatest periods of forgotten prosperity.

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 Communications, Life, Media | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE GOLDEN ERA OF AMERICA (1945-1960)

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 13, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– One of our greatest periods of forgotten prosperity.

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

Following World War II, America experienced great prosperity from 1945-1960 which I refer to as “The Golden Era of the 20th Century.” Yet, for some unknown reason, it is commonly overlooked in history books. As the builder of the Atomic bomb, which ended the war, America found itself in the unfamiliar role as leader of the free world. From this, we developed a national pride and swagger as to our abilities. Some thought we would slip back into an economic Depression. We didn’t. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, many returning soldiers went back to school and graduated with college degrees and ambition. Not surprising, Academia flourished during this time. People went to school who normally couldn’t afford to, and college enrollments swelled.

Since, we were no longer forced to ration goods, as we did during the war, we developed a huge consumer appetite which propelled industry. Unlike the destruction of post-war Europe and Asia, America was able to quickly build a manufacturing juggernaut which commanded world markets. Possessing an attitude of “The Sky is the limit,” American business created a new generation of technology consisting of such things as computers, aircraft, jet engines, ships, automobiles, televisions, and more. Returning G.I.s began a migration to the suburbs, representing boom times for the construction industry. We created the Interstate Highway System which meant we could move more freely across the country, working wonders for tourism and our national parks. There was also a significant transition from trains to planes, and passenger jets entered service. NASA was also organized in preparation for the Space Race with the Russians. Telephones also changed, from limited use to just about everyone having one in their home. Computers were being introduced during the 1950’s for business use, representing a new way to quickly perform calculations for construction, manufacturing, and government use.

Hospitals and medical research also grew during this period, thanks in large part to the “Baby Boom,” and a populace spreading throughout the country.

It was during this period the Theory Y form of management came into existence in the workplace. Unlike Theory X, representing top-down autocratic rule (e.g., micromanagement), Theory Y represented worker empowerment, where employees were delegated responsibility and allowed to conquer projects on their own. In other words, it was a bottom-up approach encouraging people to embrace their work and assume ownership. Time was considered immaterial; getting the job done was of paramount importance and they did whatever was necessary to do so.

America forged relationships with countries all over the world, who were in the process of rebuilding their industry. Our GDP jumped from $200M in 1940, to $300M in 1950, and $500M in 1960, more than doubling prewar figures. This meant there were many jobs, better wages, and a higher standard of living. It was certainly an exciting era as we experienced many new freedoms, particularly in the areas of transportation and communications. Not surprising, a burgeoning middle class grew and prospered.

Culturally, music changed from Swing and Jazz to Rock ‘n’ Roll. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby were slowly being phased out to make way for the likes of Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and The Comets, Buddy Holly, and many more. Thanks to the advent of television, movie attendance began to drop off, as did radio listeners. People found it less expensive to stay home and be entertained by the likes of Uncle Miltie, Jackie Gleason, and Sid Caesar. Desperate for audiences, the movie studios turned to CinemaScope which offered a big-screen panoramic picture which couldn’t fit on television. They also tried 3D photography, but this was the era of the blockbuster, featuring movies such as “The Robe,” “The Ten Commandments,” and “Ben-Hur.” A new breed of actor was entering the industry, such as Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe. In sports, baseball was still king and New York City was the place to be with the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants.

In 1959, Alaska and Hawaii became our 49th and 50th states respectively. Presiding over the country was Harry S. Truman, from 1945-1953, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, from 1953-1961. Probably because of his kinship to the G.I.s, Ike became the symbol for this period of prosperity. He launched the Interstate Highway System, and NASA which paved the way for the future. Perhaps our biggest concern throughout this period was the threat of communism and the Cold War. Aside from Korea, we lived in a general peaceful period of time.

So, why is this period so important and what does it tell us about today? Three things come to mind. First, there was a spirit of unity in the country back then. There was less division and more of a spirit of cooperation, which is particularly understood by soldiers. Having survived the Great Depression and becoming the leaders of the free world also gave us a sense of confidence in ourselves, thereby creating a “can do” mentality which stimulated ambition. Their unbridled enthusiasm created a “go-go” attitude which pushed the country to success.

Second, the government helped pave the way for business and industry, but really didn’t interfere, at least when you compare it to the government bureaucracy of today.

Third, we have far more luxuries today than our predecessors, and we tend to take things for granted. Whereas our forefathers understood the need to earn something, today there is more of a sense of entitlement. Perhaps we need another Great Depression or World War to teach us these values again.

The period of 1945-1960 is one of the greatest eras of prosperity in U.S. history. This was when the “movers and shakers” of our country changed the world. It is the Greatest Generation’s legacy. You have to take your hat off to them.

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 PROBLEM WITH NEWSLETTERS – Why most end up lining the bottom of bird cages.

LAST TIME:  THE DIGNITY OF WORK  – Every job is important.

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 | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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