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Archive for January, 2009

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 30, 2009

I was going to entitle this piece “Bureaucrats Gone Wild” as I wanted to draw attention to the government officials who go out of their way to make life a living Hell for us, but I already covered this in an earlier column (see “Bureaucrats”).

It’s not bad enough that government bureaucrats create their own little fiefdoms to express their self-importance, but it is how they try to play mind games with the taxpayer that disturbs me more, particularly young ones. Let me give you a couple of examples…

I’m involved with a nonprofit group who owns and maintains their own building. Not surprising, they are subject to the same rules and government codes as everyone else, such as health, fire, and building inspections. For years, the group diligently maintained their building and conformed to ever-changing codes. However, one year they were visited by a young fire inspector who wrote up an extensive list of code violations. This came as a complete surprise to the group. Although a few of the items on the list were legitimate, there were others that could best be described as superfluous. Nonetheless, the group complied with the requests, at considerable expense, but are now leery of any more inspections by the young power-hungry bureaucrat.

In another instance, I had a friend who did some minor work in South America. For some unknown reason, a young IRS agent targeted his company for an audit and, finding out about the South American connection, accused my friend’s business of making millions of dollars in South America of which they owed considerable back taxes. Understandably, this shocked the company’s management as they adamantly maintained their innocence. Nonetheless, the IRS agent asserted his contention thereby forcing the company to hire a team of accountants and lawyers to successfully refute the charges, also at considerable expense.

In both examples, the bureaucrats considered the defendants guilty until proven innocent, not the other way around as we would normally expect. Reasoning with the young bureaucrats was out of the question, as they saw this as an opportunity to make a name for themselves. Not only did their inexperience lead to bad relations with the people they were suppose to be serving, but cost people a lot of money to defend themselves over frivolous charges. I guess it’s no small wonder why people do not trust or respect their government officials, particularly “Bureaucrats Gone Wild.”

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Leave a Comment »

OUR SENSE OF HUMOR

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 27, 2009

Everyone seems to be grousing about how bad things are today, and maybe they are right, but I wonder how much our sense of humor contributes to our mindset. If you listen to the late night comics on television, everyone is an idiot. Sure we might chuckle now and then, but I find this to be more cynical and destructive than positive and beneficial.

Comedy has changed a lot over the years and I believe it is a reflection of our culture. First, our language has become cruder and more sexually explicit. I believe we can thank Lenny Bruce for this. Just prior to Bruce, standup comedians like Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart won over their audiences with observational comedy whereby they drew upon past experiences and embellished on them. Their routines could hardly be considered risqué, but they would consistently pack the house. This all changed with the likes of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Sam Kinison, and many others who introduced shock comedy. Today, nothing is sacred, and it seems we no longer see the humor in simple things anymore, and seem to prefer grungy images instead.

Let me give you an example, years ago Jack Benny and Mel Blanc would bring the house down with their Mexican “Si, Sy, Sue” routine. Abbot and Costello would make the house howl over some of their bits involving math or “Who’s on First?” Groucho Marx had a fast wit and tongue who could make your head spin. Today, all of these routines would be considered lame. I think the difference here is that the comedians of yesteryear wanted you to use your head and think. They offered mental gymnastics based on some very simple observations familiar to the common man. If you wanted something risqué, you either had to go to Las Vegas or a nightclub. Today, you can find it on just about any channel on your television set, including Disney.

Today’s humor can best be described as “in your face” leaving nothing to the imagination. I’m not saying the humor of yesteryear is necessarily better than today’s, but I am noting the differences in perspective and to suggest comedy influences our perceptions and attitudes. We have gone from poking fun at ourselves, our foibles and frailties, to vicious attacks on others; from subtle to biting humor; from suggestive to explicit; from witty to crude; from avant-garde to shocking; from positive to negative. Probably nothing clarifies the difference in comedy better than the Dean Martin roasts of the 1970’s to the roasts on Comedy Central these days. The differences are substantial.

The reason I stopped reading Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” years ago was because I believed he had nothing positive to say. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it tiresome to constantly hear the glass is half empty as opposed to half full. I guess that is why I eventually tuned out Leno, Letterman, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert, even though they still command good ratings.

As the producers of Monty Python’s “Spamalot” said at the show’s opening, “We need silly,” meaning we need comedy to relieve the stress in our lives, but I don’t think we’re really getting it. Instead of diverting us away from our problems, the humor of today tends to emphasize our problems by telling us how screwed up we all are, that we are losers living in a no-win world. I would much rather hear something like Henny Youngman’s, “Take my wife, please.” Or Rodney Dangerfield’s, “I could tell my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.” And Groucho Marx who asked, “What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic? Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.”

What’s funny is funny regardless of when it was said, but also understand what’s cynical is cynical.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Leave a Comment »

PROCRASTINATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 23, 2009

I think we’re all pretty much guilty of some form of procrastination during our lives. I know I am. The word itself comes from the Latin word “procrastinatus”: pro- (forward) and crastinus (of tomorrow). We try to put something off as long as possible, hoping that it will go away, but it rarely ever does. We avoid it because procrastination means to do something considered painful to us, be it a hard decision or a difficult task. We often use the lame excuse that we don’t have time to do something, but the reality is we plain and simply don’t want to do it. I don’t think anyone actually procrastinates over something they really want to do. So we should look upon procrastination as a sign of how a person really feels about something.

This got me thinking about how many decisions we make during the day. We make all kinds of trivial decisions, such as what clothes we will wear, what to eat, etc., but how many significant decisions do we really make? Probably not as many as we think. Financial decisions are often painfully difficult, such as where we should invest money, the purchase of a new house or automobile, insurance, etc., but we don’t make as many of these decisions as we should. We also infrequently think about career and health related decisions. Probably the two areas we most frequently make decisions about is related to our jobs and maintaining our homes. In terms of our jobs, it seems the bigger the assignment, the harder it is to make decisions regarding it and we often seek advice, particularly if our job depends on it. But the same is true at home as well; the bigger the task, the more likely we are to seek advice. For example, there is a big difference between replacing carpeting in a room, and replacing a roof. This implies there is a comfort factor involved with making a decision. In other words, do we know all of the variables and are we convinced this is the proper course of action to take? If we do not, we tend to procrastinate. Replacing a roof is a much more complicated problem than simply replacing a carpet, thereby requiring more studying and advice.

Perhaps the best way to overcome procrastination is to simply prioritize your objectives and assignments, determine not only what you would like to do but what would be most beneficial to you, and get up off your ass and do it. Avoid defeatist attitudes, and try to think positive. You might just find that the problem you have been procrastinating over is not as difficult as you thought it was. But understand this, it will not go away on its own and the old axiom, “Not to decide, is to decide,” will inevitably kick in (and usually not in your favor).

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”
– Andrew Jackson

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Leave a Comment »

MAKING TIME

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 20, 2009

I was recently asked how I learned to make the time necessary to accommodate the many activities I have been involved with over the years. Actually, it’s not too difficult to answer: children. Prior to my wife and I starting a family years ago we both worked at separate companies and, because we were still young (in our 20’s), we would frequently work late into the night. Often we would meet afterwards for a bite to eat somewhere. On the weekends we would have our own pet projects. I particularly relished mornings where we would devour the newspaper over a pot of coffee while listening to some Jazz or Sinatra in the background. But this all came to an abrupt end when our first child was born. It’s truly amazing how a baby can monopolize your time. Life as I had known it was over, not that I minded as this is what we had intended all along, I just never realized the substantial difference it would make in our lives.

I quickly learned that I couldn’t operate “business as usual” anymore. Whereas I used to get to work by 8:00am and stay later, now I found myself arising much earlier and getting to work by 6:00am (5:30am was not uncommon). This afforded me the opportunity to stay on top of things. As most of my coworkers didn’t arrive until 8:30am the office was quiet and I found I could get quite a bit of work done before everyone arrived. This became such a habit with me that years after the kids had grown up, I still come into work fairly early.

As my children grew up, I suddenly found myself involved with school functions, youth sports, scouting, etc., you get the idea. It was around this time that I started to slowly back away from responsibilities in other volunteer organizations. In essence, I was learning to prioritize my time. I realized I had a small window of opportunity to work with my kids and try to be an important part of their lives, and I like to believe I made the right decision. But these were the tiring years as it was common for me to be out attending meetings or being at a ball field five or six nights a week. As the kids got older, I was able to back away from the student related activities and finally regained some time for other activities.

If I learned anything from this experience, it was that “making time” meant managing your shifting priorities. You obviously can’t be everywhere and do everything, so you have to start asking yourself what is important to you. Some people may want to concentrate purely on their professional careers, others on their family or community. It is quite a balancing act, something that will test the stamina of both your spouse and yourself. As in any partnership, I found communications was key to success so that we both agreed on our course of action, understood each other’s schedules, and helped each other whenever necessary. This, of course, also meant sacrifice on both of our parts.

Had it not been for children, my wife and I would probably still have leisurely weekends and late night suppers. We probably would have traveled more as well. But to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. To me, “making time” represents a life changing experience where I had to change my sleeping and work schedules, prioritize my activities, and make certain sacrifices. Although I caution you not to bite off more than you can chew, I encourage you to get involved with something, be it for your family, your community, your company or profession. Go the extra mile. We have enough people sitting on the sidelines. If everyone did just one thing, think of how far ahead we would be.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

RESUMES

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 16, 2009

I’ve read a lot of resumes in my day. Coming from the Information Technology sector I have seen some pretty crazy ones filled with a lot of gobbledygook involving technical acronyms and programming jargon. Here’s an example, “Proficient in the following languages and operating platforms: C, C++, DOS, MVS, CICS, ISPF/VS, DB2, OS/2, OS/400, AIX, UNIX, Java, JavaScript, Perl, Basic, HTML, DHTML, XHTML, XML, PHP, PDP, JCL, SQL, George 3, Win95/98/Me/XP/VISTA, etc.” Sounds pretty impressive doesn’t it? The problem is verifying that the person does, in fact, know these things. Most of the time I’ve found they might have nothing more than a rudimentary knowledge of the subject which is why we recommend testing the applicant as opposed to just taking his/her word for it.

I also find it irritating when a person uses verbose language to describe himself. For example, whenever someone says they are a “Senior Software Engineer,” this simply means he is nothing more than a programmer with two or more jobs under his belt. Some people add so many adjectives to describe their credentials and boast of their successes (not their failures) that you would think he is the second coming of Christ. Whenever I see this, I ask myself, “If this person is so great, why isn’t he running his own company; why does he need a job from me?” Touting ones’ successes is natural, but a little humility in the presentation of the resume would sure be refreshing.

I may not be an expert in preparing resumes, but I think the ones that appeal to me most are those that are simple and to the point. Frankly, if they cannot keep it to one page that isn’t too busy looking, I think people will lose interest. I know I do. If I want additional detail, I’ll ask for it. Tell me plain and simple: What are you interested in doing? What’s your background? (your employment history) and What do you know? (your skill set). I don’t want to know how you conquered neuro-electronic fusion systems based on a hashing algorithm you invented; do not try to baffle me with your brilliance. Just tell me how you can do a job for me and blend into the corporate culture. I think team accomplishments are still valued over individual achievement by most employers today.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ARE THESE THE GOOD OLD DAYS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 13, 2009

As we get older we’re very much inclined to talk about the good old days. I’m sure I’ve bored my kids to death over what happened back in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. My parents liked to talk about the 30’s and 40’s as they survived the Great Depression and World War II. And my grandparents used to talk about World War I and the Roaring 20’s.

But it occurred to me recently that these will be considered the good old days for someone, probably my children’s generation. And if these are really the “good” old days, it makes me wonder what awaits us in the years ahead. Today’s economic uncertainty makes us all worry about tomorrow. Our permissive society makes me wonder what our morality and values will be. Will religious fanaticism and/or the struggle over energy plunge us into a new kind of war? Will we be kind to mother Earth? And will our ever-changing technology affect global communications and economics? There are a lot of unknowns here which we can only speculate on without absolute certainty. It’s hard to plan for the future not knowing where it might take us.

It would be wrong to paint a picture of nothing but doom and gloom. As a species, we must always try to put our best foot forward and hope to build a better tomorrow, but to do so we have to become engaged in what is going on and chart our own course of action as opposed to allowing others to dictate our future. This means we have to become more proactive, and less reactive, in living our lives. We have enough people sitting on the sidelines, it’s time for the younger generation to get into the game and run with the ball, not just in government, but in our companies, our communities, our schools, our places of worship, and other volunteer organizations. As Americans, we can ill afford to simply maintain the status quo.

One reason we like the “good old days” is because they represent a seemingly simpler time in our youth, something we all yearn for as we grow weary of the rat race. I’ll be curious to see in twenty to thirty years from now, God willing I’m still around, if we look back at this decade as a simpler time. I tend to describe it as much more fast-paced and fiercely competitive than the last thirty years. If this is true, what will the 30’s look like? The 2000-30’s (2030) that is. God help us.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Leave a Comment »

MANAGING A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 9, 2009

Recently I was adding up the number of Board of Directors I have served on over the years for nonprofit organizations. This includes computer societies, fraternal organizations, homeowner associations, even Little League. The number was close to 40 where I have served in some capacity or other, everything from president, to vice president, secretary, division director, finance chairman, publicity and public relations, newsletter editor, webmaster, even historian. In other words, I think I’ve learned a thing or two about nonprofit organizations over the years. One of the first things I learned early on is that unless you manage the nonprofit group, it will manage you.

Running a nonprofit group is not exactly rocket science and is actually pretty simple, but surprisingly few people grasp the basics and end up bungling the organization thereby creating upheaval for its constituents. If you are truly interested in properly managing a nonprofit group, consider these ten principles that have served me well over the years:

1. Know the rules. Get a copy of the governing docs, read them, and keep them with you. Do not try to hide them. In fact, make them available to your constituents either in paper form or as a download on the computer (such as a PDF file). Got a briefcase dedicated to your group? Keep a copy of the docs in it and, if an electronic version is available, place an icon on your desktop to quickly access it.

2. Get to know your constituents. How can you expect to adequately serve them if you do not know what their interests are or the group’s priorities as they perceive them? They won’t always be correct, but understand their perceptions and deal with them accordingly. You might want to circulate a survey to get their view on certain subjects, and to solicit their support.

3. Communicate – not only with the other members of the board, but with your constituency as well. Failure to do so only raises suspicions about what you are doing. Newsletters, e-mail blasts, and web pages are invaluable in this regard, particularly the latter where you can post news, governing docs, contact information, meeting minutes, audit reports, correspondence, etc. Simple communications will clear up a lot of the problems you will face as an officer on the board.

4. Administer – keep good records, regardless if government regulations require it or not. Whether you are maintaining records with pencil and paper or by computer, it is important that accurate records be maintained, particularly about the group’s membership, logs of activities, attendance, finances, minutes, etc. It is not really that complicated to perform; you just need someone who pays attention to detail. Don’t have the manpower to do it yourself? Then hire someone, such as a management company, who can competently keep track of things.

5. Lead – people like to know where they are headed. If you are in charge of the group, articulate your objectives and prepare a plan to get you there. Also, do not try to micromanage everything. Nonprofit groups are primarily volunteer organizations and the last thing they want is Attila the Hun breathing down their necks. Instead, manage from the bottom-up. Delegate responsibility, empower people, and follow-up. Make sure your people know their responsibilities and are properly trained. Other than that, get out of their way and let them get on with their work.

6. Add value to your service. People like to think they are getting their money’s worth for paying their dues. In planning your organization’s activities, be creative and imaginative, not stale and repetitive. In other words, beware of falling into a rut. Your biggest obstacle will typically be apathy. If your group’s mission is to do nothing more than meet periodically, make it fun and interesting, make it so people want to come and participate. Try new subjects, new venues, new menus, etc. Even if you are on a tight budget, try to make things professional and first class. Change with the times and never be afraid of failure. You won’t always bat 1.000 but you will certainly hit a few out of the park and score a lot of runs.

7. Keep an eye on finances. As officers of the Board, you have a fiduciary responsibility to maintain the group’s finances and report on their status. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a well thought-out and itemized budget. Operating without one is simply irresponsible. And when you have a budget, manage according to it; if you don’t have the money allocated, don’t spend it. Obviously, you should also have routine finance reports produced (at least on a monthly basis) showing an opening balance, income, expenses, and a closing balance. Most PC based financial packages can easily do this for you. At the end of the year, perform a review of your finances by an independent party, either a compilation as performed by a CPA or a review by an internal committee. Post the results so the constituency can be assured their money has been properly handled.

8. Run an effective meeting. Nobody wants to attend an inconsequential meeting. Whether it is a weekly/monthly board meeting or an annual meeting, run it professionally. Print up an agenda in advance and stick to it. Start and end on time and maintain order. Got a gavel? Do not hesitate to use it judiciously. Maintain civility and decorum. Allow people to have their say but know when issues are getting out of hand or sidetracked. And do yourself a favor, get a copy of “Robert’s Rules” and study it.

9. Beware of politics. Like it or not, man is a political animal. Politics in a nonprofit group can get uglier than in the corporate world. Some people go on a power trip even in the most trivial of organizations. Try not to lose sight of the fact that this is a volunteer organization and what the mission of the group is. Keep an eye on rumors and confront backstabbers, there is no room for such shenanigans in a nonprofit group. If you are the president, try to maintain an “open door” policy to communicate with your constituents. It is when you close the door that trouble starts to brew. Also, ask yourself the following, “Who serves who?” Does the board serve its constituents, or do the constituents serve the board? If your answer is the latter, than dissent will naturally follow.

10. Maintain control over your vendors. Try to keep a good relationship with those companies and people who either work for or come in contact with your group, particularly lawyers. Always remember who works for whom. I have seen instances where attorneys have taken over nonprofit groups (at a substantial cost I might add). The role of the lawyer is to only offer advice; he or she doesn’t make the decision, you do (the client). One last note on vendors, make sure you maintain a file of all contracts and correspondence with them. Believe me, you’re going to need it when it comes time to sever relations with them. Keep a paper trail.

Bottom-line: run your nonprofit group like a business. Come to think of it, it is a business, at least in the eyes of the State who recognizes you as a legal entity (one that can be penalized and sued). There are those who will naively resist this notion, but like it or not, a nonprofit group is a business. Consider this, what happens when the money runs out?

I mentioned earlier that you might want to hire a management company to perform the administrative detail of your group. To me, this is an admission that the Board is either too lazy or incompetent to perform their duties (or they have more money than they know what to do with). Just remember, it’s not rocket science.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

TRUST

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 6, 2009

Have you ever noticed there doesn’t seem to be a lot of trust anymore? We tend not to trust our government, our companies, our coworkers, the media, our neighbors. Heck, we’re even suspicious about the motives of our own relatives. It wasn’t always like this. We used to openly trust people and never feared political back stabbing. Alas, no more. We used to leave our house and cars unlocked; even going so far as to loan a friend a car with no questions asked. Again, no more. When we delegated a task or responsibility to someone, we knew it would be completed properly. No more.

It is natural to gravitate to people we trust, and it’s understandable as to why:

  • We respect their judgment.
  • We value their opinion.
  • We feel free to exchange ideas and thoughts with them, including secrets.

Think about it, aren’t these the attributes of a true friend or business colleague? In other words, they exhibit the same moral values we do, if not better. But when a trust is broken, it is difficult if not impossible to repair, and our interpersonal relationships rapidly deteriorate.

The decline of trust denotes a change in our culture and not necessarily for the better. I believe it indicates a more permissive and immoral society whereby a person’s word is no longer his/her bond and people become more concerned with self-preservation as opposed to the welfare of others around them. In other words, the decline of trust represents a splintering of people. As an example, instead of delegating responsibility and empowering people to do their job, we tend to micromanage their activities, which is an open admission we do not trust their judgment. This leads to discontent among the workforce and promotes individualism over teamwork.

As indicated earlier, building trust is a difficult task, particularly if it is broken. The best thing is not to break it in the first place. To build or restore trust it is necessary to offer some visible demonstration of trust, be it something as simple as delivering on a promise, maintaining a confidence, or lending a helping hand when push comes to shove. Speaking from experience, it is always comforting to know that someone is watching your backside as opposed to your wallet.

Regarding the diminishing role of our national motto, “In God We Trust,” some would say this is simply an issue regarding the separation of church and state. As for me, I see it as another sign of the decline of our culture. If we cannot trust God, regardless of our religious denomination, who can we trust?

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Leave a Comment »

FINDING COMFORT IN INCOMPETENCE

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 2, 2009

I think we’re all familiar with the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss,” but I seem to be running into this more frequently in a lot of small nonprofit organizations, such as youth sports, fraternal groups, homeowner associations, etc. I have had more than my fair share of experience with such groups over the years and I am always amazed at how incompetently they are run. People who get on the board of directors for nonprofit groups typically mean well, but most don’t have a clue as to what is necessary to effectively run them.

Running a local nonprofit group is not exactly rocket science, but I’m amazed how many people make it overly complicated (does the expression, “Making mountains out of mole hills,” mean anything to you?). Basically, you have a set of governing docs which you have to follow (which most people on the Board rarely read), you have to keep track of your membership, perform some service for them, and collect money and pay the bills. Hopefully, a rationally prepared budget is somewhere in all of this, but this is becoming as rare as having the organization’s finances independently reviewed on an annual basis. But in a nutshell, that’s all there is to it. Yet, time and again, I see people bumbling their way through nonprofit groups, causing more problems than they solve. So much so, that it is not uncommon for them to hire management companies to come in and run the administrative detail of the organization, for a tidy fee of course.

Nonprofit organizations are typically driven more by ego than common sense. It’s sad when you see someone campaign for President more for the notoriety or power as opposed to performing anything useful. To me, this is just plain bizarre. I guess there are people who need some petty recognition, particularly if they never did anything in their professional lives.

Such organizations tend to be fraught with cronyism, a good ole boy club whereby you have to be anointed to become a member (if you play ball with the powers that be). The last thing they want is an outsider to come in and shake things up. By controlling the rules by which the game is played, the board pretty much has carte blanche to do what they want, and therein lies the problem. The board might be smug and content, but the institution itself begins to deteriorate from neglect. Where there is cronyism, there is incompetence, and where there is incompetence, there is decay. Whenever you see a nonprofit organization fail to adequately report to their constituency on its activities and status, or goes so far as to thwart criticism of the status quo, you see such a scenario.

Typically the only way to overcome a despot or like-minded board is to take over the board in force or by legal maneuvering. Then again, is the incoming board going to be any different than the outgoing board?

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Leave a Comment »

 
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