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Archive for October, 2009

DEADBEATS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 30, 2009

I recently saw a local merchant close his doors after only one year of operation. I don’t want to get into the type of business he was in, but suffice it to say it could have been successful had the proprietor tried a little harder than he did. Instead, he chalked the defeat up to the recession and simply walked away from the business without clearing out his shelves and equipment, or paying his bills. In fact, his mail piled up at the door unopened, and creditors hounded the landlord to let them in the building to retrieve their unpaid equipment. What I found most interesting from this experience though, was the proprietor’s attitude who couldn’t have cared less. He wasn’t the slightest bit embarrassed, apologetic or ashamed of himself. In fact, if you talked to him, you would get the impression that everything was great and he had no problems. He literally just walked away from the company leaving behind a pile of bills and stiffing his creditors.

As a Floridian, this attitude is not exactly uncommon and we have seen many people happily declare bankruptcy at the expense of others. We have some of the most liberal bankruptcy laws in the country. One moment a guy is declaring bankruptcy and leaving his creditors in the lurch for considerable sums of money, and the next moment he wants to be their best friend in a new venture. There is no guilt, no shame, no embarrassment. And I guess I really don’t understand this attitude. I don’t care if he has a tune on his lips or a song in his heart, a deadbeat is a deadbeat.

I don’t consider someone a deadbeat if they have failed in business, yet want to genuinely make amends for their actions. A deadbeat is someone who feels no guilt in abusing the system to his advantage. Even a beggar has honor if he acknowledges his own deficiencies. In contrast, a deadbeat is only interested in one thing, himself. He has no concern for his employees, his vendors, or his customers. He just moves along to his next scam.

I don’t know where this mindset originated from. Years ago, declaring bankruptcy would be considered a scarlet letter in society, but it’s not like that anymore. Now, people are congratulated for outfoxing the system and leaving a trail of debt in their wake, regardless of the people hurt along the way. Is our society so perverted that we applaud bankruptcy as opposed to success? I’m sorry, I just don’t get it, and most likely never will.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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 management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Bankruptcy, Credit, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

PRODUCTIVITY

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 27, 2009

If you lookup the word “Productivity” in a dictionary, you’ll probably find something like, “The rate at which goods or services are produced, especially output per unit of labor.” This implies the best way to improve productivity is through speed. There is no consideration for mistakes made or challenging the process by which something is produced, just speed. This is one of the most fallacious concepts common to American manufacturing and I see it just about everywhere, not only in the corporate sector.

For many years, our company has touted the following formula:

Productivity = Effectiveness X Efficiency

To produce anything, be it a product or service, there are two aspects to consider, not just one: “Doing the right things” (effectiveness), and, “Doing things right (efficiency). Whereas efficiency is concerned with process speed, effectiveness considers the necessity of the task itself. For example, in an assembly line, robotics offer faster speed in performing tasks such as welding, but if the weld is being performed at the wrong time or in the wrong place, then it is counterproductive regardless how fast it works. In other words, in addition to speed, we should be challenging the whole process (“Doing the right things”).

Effectiveness addresses more than just business processes though, it is also concerned with the work product to be produced. After all, there is little point in building something efficiently that should never have been built at all. To illustrate, there is no doubt in my mind the automobile industry in Detroit knows how to make cars efficiently, but it has become painfully obvious they were building the wrong cars. What’s the point of putting something on a menu that nobody is going to order? While Detroit focused on efficiency, foreign competition concentrated on building the right products and captured the American market.

We also see this difference of effectiveness and efficiency in our daily lives. For example, you may believe you had a great day at work; that you accomplished a lot, and maybe you did. Then again, maybe you didn’t do as much as you might think. A lot of people believe just because they were a model of efficiency, they were being highly productive, but were they working on the right things? To quantify your personal productivity, I devised a simple calculator to compute your personal productivity which can be found at:

Bryce Daily Productivity Analyzer

Why are Americans consumed by efficiency and not effectiveness? Probably because we do a lousy job of planning and, as a result, routinely find ourselves in a crisis mode impatient for results. Not surprising, the emphasis in this country is on speed, speed, and more speed! Or as American programmers like to say, let’s not waste time on planning, let’s simply be more “Agile.” I don’t care how you try to spin it, “Quick and Dirty” is “Quick and Dirty.” Quite often you hear workers lament, “We don’t have time to do it right,” which, when translated means, “We have plenty of time to do it wrong.” Our foreign competitors are the antithesis of this mindset and spend more time planning and, in the process, are capturing the American market.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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 management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHY WE GET PEEVED

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 23, 2009

I was recently talking to a friend who was commenting on some of my pet peeves, many of which he could relate to. Inevitably, he asked me why the world was so screwed up today. I thought about this for quite some time afterwards and believe I finally have an answer; it has always been screwed up, we simply weren’t paying attention. Let me explain…

As we enter the work force, usually in our 20’s, we’re full of vim and vigor. We tend to tackle assignments brashly, some would say recklessly or impetuously. Because we want to make a name for ourselves, we tend to knock down obstacles in order to reach our goals and be rewarded. What we lack in knowledge and experience, we make up for in sheer energy.

In our 30’s we’re still energetic but we become smarter as we gain experience in what we do. As we enter our 40’s, we tend to slow down a bit but think of ourselves at the top of our game.

In our 50’s, we’ve become fully experienced in our profession and life, and from this we become acutely aware of our limitations. It is then when we begin to realize time has passed too quickly and we finally start to recognize the changes in the world. In other words, in our youth we were preoccupied with starting our lives; so much so, we were distracted and did not realize the world was changing around us. As we get older, we slow down and suddenly become cognizant of the changes and ask why things aren’t the same as they used to be in our youth.

Our world is a big and complicated place. So big, it is impossible to stay on top of all of the changes going on around us, even in spite of the 24/7 news media. Changes come at us from many directions: politics, science and technology, the arts, competition, fashion, customs, public opinion, social issues, international affairs, and a wide range of changing laws, rules and regulations. However, change is so slow, it is almost transparent to us and if we become distracted, as most of us do, we don’t recognize it. Only after a few decades do the changes become vividly clear to us and by then, it is usually too late to do anything about them as we should have been paying attention earlier on. Suddenly we realize people are acting and looking different, particularly the next generation, that social and moral norms are different, and the world has changed.

So why do we get “peeved”? I think it is simply because we have suddenly realized the world is different and the status quo is unlike what we remembered from our youth. And we don’t like it.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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 management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

MAN HOURS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 20, 2009

I’ve never been comfortable with the concept of “Man Hours,” not that it’s a gender issue, but rather it implies ignorance of how time is used in the work place and fumbles away some simple management concepts needed to run any business, namely accountability and commitment. Actually, I thought the “Man Hour” concept disappeared with the passing of the 20th century, but it appears to be making a comeback.

The fallacy of the “Man Hour” concept is that it assumes a person is working productively 100% of the time. This, of course, is hardly the case in any company. Workers are either working on their assignments, be they what they may, or there are interferences keeping them from their work, such as meetings, phone calls, e-mails, reading, breaks, etc. Time spent on work assignments is referred to as “Direct,” and time spent on interferences is referred to as “Indirect.” The relationship of Direct to Indirect time is referred to as an “Effectiveness Rate” delineating the use of time during the work day. For example, in an office environment, 5.6 hours are typically spent on Direct work, and 2.4 hours are typically spent on Indirect interferences (assuming an eight hour business day), or an Effectiveness Rate of approximately 70%. In no way should Effectiveness Rate be confused as an efficiency rating; the two are NOT synonymous. Whereas an efficiency rating measures how well someone performs a task in a given time, Effectiveness Rate simply measures the use of time during the work day.

Effectiveness Rate teaches us that a person cannot be 100% effective all the time, which is at the crux of the problem with “Man Hours.” Let’s go beyond this though and show how this simple concept should be applied in the work place. For example, Direct time is the responsibility of the individual worker to manage, and Indirect time is the responsibility of the manager to manage. Both Direct and Indirect time should be recorded either using computer software (such as a Project Management system) or with a paper time sheet. To make this work, the individual must participate in the estimating process of an assignment. Instead of an estimate being forced on to a worker, as in a micromanagement scenario, the worker is asked to consider the complexity of the assignment and make a personal commitment in terms of the Direct Hours needed to complete the task. As work progresses, the worker posts his/her time to the time sheet/screen and updates the amount of time remaining on a given task, not in terms of “percent complete” but by the number of Direct hours remaining (aka, “Estimate to Do”). This emphasis on estimating and reporting Direct Hours means the individual must supervise him/herself, thereby the manager spends less time supervising the worker. In other words, workers are treated like professionals and are expected to act as such in return.

Because the manager is responsible for managing the work environment, he/she monitors and controls the worker’s indirect time. Again, it should be remembered that a person cannot be 100% effective. If pushed too hard, the worker may start to make mistakes or accidents which would certainly be counterproductive. This is why, for example, Japanese assembly lines will stop periodically to allow workers to back away from their machines and briefly perform some basic exercise before resuming their work, thereby clearing their heads. The exercise is most certainly an Indirect activity that keeps them from their tasks, but it refreshes them and allows them to refocus.

In the average office, each person will have a different Effectiveness Rate which the manager will monitor. Again, there is a big difference between Effectiveness Rate and an Efficiency Rating. To illustrate, a novice worker may have a high Effectiveness Rate, but it may take him/her more time to perform a task than an experienced worker who might have a lower Effectiveness Rate. Here, the manager must consider the skills and proficiencies of the workers when selecting personnel to perform a task. For more information, see my paper on “Creating a Skills Inventory.”

One of the main benefits of Indirect Time, is its use in calculating schedules. For example, if 100 hours have been estimated to perform a given task, under the “Man Hour” approach, the task would be performed in 12.5 business days (assuming an eight hour business day). By studying Effectiveness Rate though, the manager can use it to calculate a more realistic schedule; for example, assuming a worker is 70% effective, this means there are 5.6 Direct Hours in the business day to perform the work, which calculates into 17.8 business days (and substantially different than the “Man Hour” approach). The point is, Effectiveness Rate builds reality into a schedule.

As work progresses on an assignment, the worker reports his/her time which the manager monitors. If the manager observes the worker’s Effectiveness Rate dropping, he will endeavor to determine the reason why and exercise authority to try to raise it (within reason of course) in order to keep the schedule on track. For example, the manager may instruct the worker to minimize personal phone calls and attendance at meetings. By doing so, the manager is controlling the work environment.

To make this all work, the workers need to report their use of time, something that some office workers spurn claiming it is “unprofessional.” Nonsense. Being a professional means you are held accountable for your actions and committed to delivering on your promises. Since professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants keep track of their time, why not other workers? If workers truly want to be treated like professionals, with less micromanagement, then they must accurately report their use of time. Bottom-line, this interpretation of the use of time promotes the concept of the “Mini-Project Manager” whereby workers supervise themselves. In other words, the company is managing from the bottom-up as opposed to top-down. If done properly, the manager will find he/she will spend more time managing and less time supervising. The concept of “Man Hours” is simply the antithesis of this approach.

As an aside, this concept can hardly be considered new as it was derived from construction projects in the 1950’s. Do you know what the average Effectiveness Rate of a construction worker is? 25% Call the Ripley people, they don’t even believe it.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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 management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

LAWN MOWING

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 16, 2009

I have been mowing lawns for 46 years now. When I was a kid in Connecticut, my family had a reel mower; you know, one of those plain push mowers where the blades twirl faster as you push the mower. When we moved to Chicago in the mid-60’s my father bought our first power mower at Montgomery Ward. The engine only turned the blade; you still had to push it as there was no self-propulsion. Over the years I’ve had a variety of lawn mowers, both push and riders. The fact remains though, year after year I’ve been mowing my lawn. I’ve had help from my son over the years, but now he is off to college, leaving me to fend for myself again.

In my neighborhood, I’m one of the few guys remaining who mows his own lawn, if not the only one. People stare at me as they drive by my house while I’m mowing. I guess they think I’m either eccentric, too poor to hire a lawn service, or maybe I’m a lawn service worker myself. Actually, I don’t mind doing the lawn as it is an excellent way for me to get some exercise, and I take great pride in my work if I can get the lawn to look the way I want it to.

Most of the people in my neighborhood use a lawn service. I don’t think I have ever seen a youth in our subdivision push a lawnmower either. As for my family, both my son and daughter have taken their turn with the lawn mower over the years, but mostly the burden fell to the boy. I’ve always looked upon such work as a great way to teach responsibility and pride in workmanship. Over the years, my son has learned to use all of my power tools and is now pretty handy with them. He also understands safety issues as well. I’ve asked some of my friends why they don’t have their children mow their lawn and they look at me incredulously like I’ve taken leave of my senses. I guess they’re afraid their kids might learn Spanish and become professional landscapers. As for me, I’ve always seen it as a way to teach children how to carry their weight in the household. Then again, I guess I’m old fashioned.

Down here in Florida, the main type of grass we have is Floratam St. Augustine, or just plain “Floratam,” which was developed to resist all the little bugs and critters we have in our soil down here. It’s not quite the same type of grass as you find up north which looks thin and puny by comparison. Actually, I think down here they’ve got us all conned into believing that Floratam is something special when, in reality, it is nothing but an expensive form of crab grass.

It’s interesting the ensemble of lawn tools you collect and use over the years. In addition to the lawn mower, I have a fertilizer spreader, an edger, a weedwhacker, a hedger, a chain saw, different pruning clippers, saws, rakes, etc. It can become quite an investment in equipment if you want to do the lawn yourself. No wonder I get Christmas cards from Home Depot and Lowes.

The only thing I dislike about mowing is when the mower breaks down, which happened to me recently. I have a riding mower and a bolt popped out causing the undercarriage to fall off and snapped a belt. It wouldn’t be a big deal if was a push mower, but because it is a rider, I had to schedule an appointment for it to be fixed and call on a friend with a truck to help me move it which, frankly, is a pain in the ass. Otherwise, when the mower is working properly I can get it done in no time at all.

While the lawn mower was in the shop for repair, which was for a few weeks, I arranged to have a service come in to take care of the lawn for me, and I admit they did a remarkable job. However, it seemed very strange to me not to mow the lawn and I started to go through withdrawal symptoms. I know I won’t be able to take care of the lawn forever and at some point I’ll have to acquiesce the responsibility to someone else. I suppose it’s been a matter of pride and determination for me (or just plain stubbornness). I guess I fear someone saying, “What? You’re getting too old to do the lawn?” Maybe I’m just confused; that mowing lawns for over 50 years is not so much considered a feat of strength, but an act of stupidity. I’m not sure which.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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 management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

WHY THE LEFT HATES RUSH & COMPANY

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 14, 2009

When you hear the name “Rush Limbaugh” mentioned by liberals and the press, the adjectives “controversial”, “polarizing”, “bombastic”, “inflammatory”, and “shock-jock” are often mentioned. Actually, such descriptions are also used to characterize Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and anyone who opposes liberal policies and positions. Although these on-air personalities are generally regarded as the “Dark Side” of politics by Democrats, they also enjoy great ratings on the air waves.

I contend the reason they are condemned by the left is not because of what they say, but how they say it. After all, conservative doctrine is well known and rather predictable. Yet, people tune in regularly to get their daily dosage of conservative viewpoints. The difference lies in their tactics; whereas the liberal media is more covert in their spin on politics and world events (at least they like to believe they are), Rush & Company are more overt and unafraid of a good argument, some would even call it an “in your face” form of broadcasting. They actually relish a good challenge and welcome the opportunity to spar with virtually anybody. Whereas liberals like to spin their agenda using repetitive subliminal messages through the media, conservatives have become more proactive and animated in their discourse, which leads to better ratings.

Liberals have been orchestrating attacks against conservatives for quite some time; yet, when someone like Rush & Company openly fights back, the opposition is appalled and cries foul. Since they will not publicly debate Rush & Company, for fear of losing, the liberals vilify them through innuendo and sniping. Such attacks doesn’t discredit or deter them one bit; In fact, it emboldens them. Any time the liberals openly attack them, on the air or in print, their ratings actually go up, not down, and fills their coffers. In addition to confounding the liberals, it puts them in a no-win situation with Rush & Company; if they attack them, they invigorate their ratings; if they do not, they suffer guilt by silence. Rush & Company, of course, are cognizant of this and know they have nothing to lose.

The Democrats only have three options to thwart Rush & Company; first, they can continue their program of vilifying the opposition, which only makes them stronger; second, they can publicly debate them, whereby they run the risk of losing an argument, or; third, they can completely ice them out by not recognizing them in any manner or form. As Oscar Wilde correctly observed, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Then again, Rush & Company has already developed legions of devoted followers. I’m betting they will simply continue with the first option.

I find it interesting that personalities such as Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews are not considered “controversial”, “bombastic”, etc. They can hardly be called newscasters as they openly spin liberal doctrine. Yet, they are not criticized by the press. Hmm…I guess what is good for the goose is not good for the gander. If you say you agree with Rush & Company, you are openly accused of being “as crazy as they are.” Yet, the opposite isn’t true.

One thing is for sure, Rush & Company is not going away any time soon and will continue to publicly gnaw away at liberal principles (and become rich in the process). I’m not so much convinced the left despises them as much as they are afraid of them. Regardless, whether you love them or hate them, it all makes for great political theater.


Keep the Faith!

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 management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

EXCUSES

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 13, 2009

Down here in Florida we have a lot of problems with trucks breaking down, particularly those used for delivery or maintenance. It seems every time you make an appointment with a driver to drop something off or a workman who is scheduled to perform a task for you, they can never seem to be there on time and blame the truck for breaking down. Does this happen elsewhere in the country or is it something unique to Florida?

By my estimates, all of our roads should be littered with truck parts strewn everywhere. No wonder Detroit needs a bailout since it appears they no longer know how to make a workable truck anymore, nor do the Japanese, Koreans, or Germans. I would love to be in the truck repair business as they must be making a mint.

“No Tim, you don’t get it; there is nothing wrong with the trucks, they’re just using this as an excuse.”

Really? Gee, why can’t they just call and reschedule? That would be more respectful of the customer who wouldn’t waste time waiting on an air head who is probably going to do a ding-dong job for you anyway.

Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to have more respect for a person who admits a mistake as opposed to fabricating an excuse. After all, who does he think he is fooling? Me? Hardly. In our culture we tend to look at the admission of a mistake as a sign of weakness. I don’t. To me, it’s an admission that a person knows his/her limitations and is asking for help. I would rather know this as soon as possible as opposed to waiting for a calamity to strike and suffering the consequences thereof. It is a Bryce’s Law that, “The longer you delay admitting a mistake, the more expensive it will be to correct.”

Think about this, which is worse – the mistake or the excuse? It’s the excuse, right? After all, it’s only masking a mistake and means you are wasting precious time trying to uncover it. What’s so terribly wrong with admitting, “I screwed up” (I would use something stronger, but you get the idea). This is like saying, “I’m human.” I learned a long time ago that nobody is perfect, least of all myself; and, as humans, we all make mistakes in our walk through life. It is inevitable. It bothers me though that we tend to cover it up as opposed to admitting we have a problem. Consider this, the last guy who was perfect, they hung on a cross.

So, you have a choice, if you’re going to be late for that appointment or have a problem fulfilling an obligation, don’t fabricate an excuse; let me know ahead of time so I can plan accordingly. Either that or fix the damn truck!

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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 management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

PLEDGES, OATHS, VOWS & CODES

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 8, 2009

I have been watching the History Channel a lot lately. I find as I get older there is little on the “prime time” channels that interest me. Instead, I find myself drawn to documentaries, biographies, and history, as well as classic movies (you know, the films they made before computers and had real scripts). Recently, the History Channel has been running a series on modern day gangs, both in and out of the prison system, and I have found it to be very interesting. These are gangs who have gone way beyond the Sharks and the Jets; bloodthirsty groups who stop at nothing to dominate a territory and extort money any way they can.

During the documentary, several current and former gang members are interviewed. Interestingly, one of the main reasons they join a gang is to establish a sense of family, a desire to belong to something in order to feel wanted and accepted, which is something they were not getting at home, regardless if they have parents or not. They are willing to pay dearly for this too, and voluntarily take a binding oath and suffer through a harsh initiation ritual, all for the sense of belonging. Such blood oaths and initiations leaves a lasting impression on the individual who dares not leave the gang, partially in fear of the consequences, but more as they desperately want the sense of family.

During our lifetime, we make a lot of pledges, and take certain oaths and vows. For example,

  • “To love, honor and obey, until death do us part.”
  • “To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.”
  • “I pledge allegiance to the flag…”
  • “I will play fair, and strive to win, but win or lose, I will always do my best.”
  • “I, (name), do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

As an aside, I find it interesting that all such oaths related to serving in American government or military end with, “So help me God.”

These pledges are all nice and sound impressive, but I find few people take them seriously anymore and reject them when it suits them. In other words, there is no real commitment to stand behind our words. Consider, for example, “The Journalist’s Creed” or the “Hippocratic Oath” as administered to physicians. If you read them carefully, you have to wonder how many people truly adhere to them.

Mechanisms such as pledges, oaths and vows are intended to define our code of conduct. This, of course, refers to our honor and ability to keep our word, something people use as a measurement of trust. I find it interesting that criminals have a higher regard for such things as opposed to John Q. Public. Maybe its because the criminal code has stiff penalties which will undoubtedly be executed if violated, and the person knows it. In our society though, there is no real penalty for violating our obligations, least of all shame or embarrassment. In other words, taking an oath or vow has become a joke in our society, and as long as it remains a shallow inconsequential ceremony, it will always be regarded as nothing more than a triviality to be implemented only when it is convenient to do so.

It’s no small wonder why today we have a deterioration of ethics, both in our homes and in the work place. It is one thing to enact legislation, quite another to enforce it. You can make all the pledges, oaths, vows, and codes you want, but if there is no real consequence for violating them, there is little point in administering them. The criminal class understands this. John Q. Public does not.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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 management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

FENDER BENDERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 5, 2009

Suffering a fender bender can be a very irritating experience, particularly if it is to a new car. I’m not talking about a major collision, but some sort of ding, scrape or scratch most of us have suffered through. Years ago, my father would go bananas if the slightest thing went wrong with his car. I guess it’s because he belonged to a generation who worked hard for their money and cherished the possessions they paid for through hard work. A lot of people who survived the Great Depression felt this way. If my mom was involved with a fender bender, she wouldn’t hear the end of it for days. Today though, I believe most people have more of a cavalier attitude about such scrapes and don’t appear to get very upset.

I tend to get upset if somebody hits me, but not to the degree my father did. I guess it’s because I tend to drive defensively and avoid getting into situations where an accident is unavoidable. If I find myself stuck in traffic with too many Bozos, I look for ways to escape and find another way around it. So, for somebody to strike my car, I can’t help but believe they are anything less than an idiot. If I happen to strike someone, which hasn’t happened in a long time, I get upset with myself as I should have been paying closer attention to what was going on around me. Regardless of who caused it, a fender bender is a disheartening experience from the get-go.

I don’t know which is worse though, the accident or having it corrected. After exchanging pertinent information with the other driver, and assuming it wasn’t necessary to summon law enforcement officials, the real headaches begin. I have found my insurance company to be pretty good in terms of promptly paying claims and protecting my interests, but I can’t say that about other carriers who tend to run you through a lot of red tape to get your car repaired back to its original condition. Getting a car fixed in a body shop can be quite expensive, and its rather unsettling when the insurance company low balls the estimate, meaning you will have to pay for the repair out of your own pocket (even if you were not at fault).

I guess the insurance companies have a right to be concerned as there are a lot of auto body shops who hear the dinner bell any time they learn an insurance company is picking up the tab. In these hard economic times, where automobile sales are down, the dealers have learned to make their money on repairs. Small scratches suddenly cost hundreds of dollars to correct, and repairing dings and dents have skyrocketed into the thousands of dollars. In other words, the body shops are charging exorbitant rates.

I also have to question how the automotive manufacturers are designing cars today. As a small example, a lot of the cars don’t have the bumpers we were familiar with not long ago. Such bumpers could absorb and withstand a minor hit, but today bumpers are more recessed making it easier to hit the car and cause peripheral damage, such as to a light, a fender, or the trunk. Sure, we want our cars to be strong, but we also want something that will withstand minor fender benders, and won’t cost an arm and a leg to repair.

If we lived in a perfect world, automobile manufacturers would build cars that would be more impervious to fender benders and cost less to repair, body shops would charge fair rates thereby causing our insurance rates to drop and, in turn, we could then afford to buy better cars. Sadly, we live in an imperfect world.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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 management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Automotive, Family, Repairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE LIABILITY OF SUPERVISING CHILDREN

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 2, 2009

There’s some trouble brewing in Virginia, something that will inevitably spill over to other states if we’re not careful. In the case of Kellerman v. McDonough, et al, a 14 year old North Carolina girl was accidentally killed in an automobile accident while visiting a friend in Virginia. This resulted in a wrongful death lawsuit against the mother of the friend who, according to the plaintiff, was responsible for supervising the child while in her custody. Although a lower court dismissed the case, the Virginia Supreme Court overturned the decision. In a nutshell, it means adults are liable for any injury incurred by a child placed in their custody for supervision, even if the injury is committed by a third party (as was the case of the 14 year old). For details on the case, click HERE.

Consider what this means from a social aspect. As kids we used to visit our friends’ homes all the time, play, cause whatever mischief we could, and, Yes, sometimes fall down and hurt ourselves. Now, with this decision, parents will be less inclined to let neighbor children visit their homes in fear of a lawsuit. This means children will spend more time “locked up” at home and have fewer opportunities to socialize with other people. Further, this could conceivably lead to the end of the “good neighbor policy” whereby we will see more frivolous lawsuits enacted pitting neighbor against neighbor. However, this will not stop simply at next-door neighbors, but will also involve baby-sitters, teachers, coaches, crossing guards, bus drivers, shopkeepers, you name it; anyone who may come in contact with a youngster. What’s next? Obviously a mountain of waivers allowing adults to come in contact with a child.

All of this because of a single tragic accident. I do not know the specifics of the case, particularly the dynamics between the cast of characters prior to the accident, but it sounds to me like the parents are partially to blame for allowing their daughter to be placed in harm’s way. And now we will all have to feel the effects of their decision.

Another lawsuit, which is somewhat similar in nature, comes from Staten Island, New York where a mother finally settled a lawsuit with the New Springville Little League for $125,000. It seems a few years ago her son injured his knee while trying to stretch a single into a double under the instruction of the coach. The mother argued that the Little League and coaches were negligent in teaching her son how to properly slide (the defendants countered otherwise). For more information on this case, click HERE.

Here again is another instance where the rest of the world will feel the effect of a seemingly inane lawsuit. As in the first lawsuit, this will undoubtedly result in more waivers to be signed by children and parents in order for them to participate in any kind of organized activity, such as sports, picnics, playgrounds, tag, hide-and-go-seek, and tiddlywinks.

My God, will this madness ever end? Can’t we invent a single waiver that can be universally applicable? Something like…

“The undersigned hereby agrees to hold harmless anyone I willfully come in contact with, that I won’t act like a dumb ass, and that I alone will be responsible for my own actions. Further, if any accident befalls me, I will not make use of any ambulance chaser to try to squeeze blood from a turnip.”

What a horrendous price to pay for the lack of common sense. The insurance companies are going to love it.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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 management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Family, Legal, Society | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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