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Archive for September, 2010

THE POLITICAL HOME STRETCH

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 30, 2010

Now, with just over 30 days remaining, we’re coming into the home stretch of the American mid-term elections. So far, it has been an interesting race with Tea Partiers flexing their political muscles thereby putting liberal Democrats against the ropes. Prognosticators are painting a bleak picture for the Democrats in the Fall as Americans are outraged over Obamacare, deficit spending, the president’s handling of the Gulf disaster, and the economy in general. If the president has been successful in anything, he has awakened conservatives and set them to work. This is bad news for incumbent Democratic congressmen who want to distance themselves from a president who is now considered political poison.

Some political scientists are predicting Republicans will not only make significant inroads, they may very well recapture not just one but both chambers of Congress. This would be a devastating blow to the president’s agenda and it will be interesting to see how he responds should this come to fruition. President Clinton was forced to become a chameleon when the Republicans captured the Congress in 1996. Will President Obama respond in kind or will he adamantly oppose everything coming from the Congress? I suspect he will continue his policy of referring to the Republicans as “obstructionists.” If he does, he will be a one-term Lame Duck president and Hillary Clinton will break away to form her presidential campaign for 2012.

It will also be interesting to see what the media does in the event the Congress takes a right turn. Will they continue to resist the conservatives or will they embrace them in order to bolster ratings? Although they will drop their guard and cozy up to the Republicans for a while, they will never truly stop sniping at them, but it will be fun to watch nonetheless.

The real winner coming out of the mid-term elections will be the Tea Party who will be emboldened and anxious to campaign against the president in 2012. Following 2010, all incumbents should rightfully be wary of the party, both Democrats and Republicans, and to my way of thinking, that’s a good thing.

As the stock in the Tea Party grows, so will that of the left’s who is now scrambling to offset the pending conservative tsunami. I’ll be particularly interested to hear the rhetoric coming out of Washington, DC on October 2nd when labor leaders, liberal religious leaders and the NAACP have called for a rally on the Mall as a response to the recent Tea Party rally. In all likelihood, we will become even more polarized over the next two years as we approach the presidential election. As I have said before, the histrionics of both sides will be reminiscent of the debates surrounding the Missouri Compromise over 100 years ago.

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. 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

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

RECOGNIZING THE PETER PRINCIPLE

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 29, 2010

“A man has got to know his limitations.” – Dirty Harry

The Peter Principle was introduced back in 1969 by Dr. Laurence J. Peter in his book of the same name. In a nutshell, the principle contends that in a hierarchical organization a person will rise to the level of their competency, and trouble arises if the person rises above it. Along with Parkinson’s Law, it is one of the most well known principles in the world of management. Unfortunately, young people are unfamiliar with the concept which is perhaps why we are seeing more people lately rising above their level of competency.

So what are the earmarks of the Peter Principle? Actually, three indicators come to mind:

1. Project estimates and schedules are routinely missed. The person doesn’t just miss assignments every now and then, but consistently misses them. This is indicative of the person’s ability to see projects through to successful completion or manage by objectives. If he cannot, he either lacks the proper skills and training to perform the work, or simply doesn’t care about being late or over budget.

2. The duties and responsibilities as defined in a job description are not being met. Again, this may be indicative of the lack of proper knowledge, skills and experience, or an attitude problem.

3. The person lacks the respect and confidence of the people working around him, not only his subordinates, but his superior and lateral relationships as well. Although this is difficult to quantify, it basically tells us, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” In other words, the person either has bad social skills, or his peers already know what he is capable and incapable of doing.

Aside from dealing with someone who is in over his head, the real challenge is to hire the right person for the right job, which is not quite as easy as it may sound. Human resource departments may have a battery of tests to verify a person’s skills and general knowledge, but successful experience and attitudes are much harder to substantiate. Again, there are three areas to consider:

1. Ability to meet project estimates and schedules. This is difficult to demonstrate and management inevitably has to rely on the person’s word for their performance. Then again, if the person had been using a Project Management system at his last job, he may have access to documentation which reflects his performance.

2. Understands the job he is applying for. This is where a lot of people get into trouble as they do not really grasp the significance of the job they are applying for, but like the title. Regretfully, people too often chase titles as opposed to jobs. To test his knowledge, ask the person to articulate the job description and how he would satisfy the requirements for it. Further, has he performed a comparable job like this before?

3. Respect of the people he worked with. Again, this is difficult to substantiate as people are more reluctant to give references these days in fear of possible litigation for giving a bad reference. Nonetheless, references should be scrutinized as closely as possible.

The one question that is commonly overlooked is, “Why do you want this job?” The answers might surprise you, e.g.; “I need a job”, “I’m looking to advance myself and need a challenge,” “I’m the right person for the job”, etc. The one I particularly like is, “I want to make a difference,” which indicates to me the person’s confidence and ambition.

Hiring people without doing a thorough examination of the person’s background is courting the Peter Principle.

Allowing people to stay in a position where they are in over their head is just plain irresponsible on management’s part. It is a disservice not only to the company, but to the employee as well. When a person has risen above their level of competency, it will become obvious to others and may affect morale. Standard and routine performance appraisals should help overcome this problem, but if they are infrequently performed or done in an inconsistent manner, the Peter Principle will inevitably kick in. Management should either work with the person to get him back on track, or terminate his employment.

I guess what troubles me here is that people apply for jobs they knowingly are not qualified for, and remarkably, every now and then they slip through the cracks and get the job. In this event, management gets what they pay for.

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. 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

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

OUR DEVOTION TO LITERATURE

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 28, 2010

A few nights ago, my wife and I were visiting with some friends and somehow we got on the subject of literature, specifically the books we read in High School years ago. We compiled quite a list including: “Across Five Aprils” by Irene Hunt, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “Madame Curie” by Eve Curie, “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck, “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck, “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare, “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway, “The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane, “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and “The Yearling” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I’m sure I have forgotten others mentioned that evening, but I think you get the idea.

I don’t think we could point at any of these books and say there was a personal favorite among them. As for me, I found Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” particularly interesting and devoured the book hoping to find a happy ending. I didn’t. It was all rather depressing. Even though I understood the book’s message, I stopped reading Steinbeck after that. The point is, like so many High School students, we drudged through the reading and even though we would hit a dud now and then, we were all glad to have read the books. I think this is due in part to our love of literature. When we were kids, we relished visiting the library or have our parents read to us at night. Each year our elementary school would sponsor a book fair and we would gobble up what we could. By the time we entered high school in the late 1960’s, the book bug had already bitten us.

I’ve read a lot of books since then, but I cannot say I am as voracious a reader as my wife or mother who seem to digest books on a weekly basis. I find my time is more limiting so I tend to be more careful what I read. If a book doesn’t grab my attention in the first few pages, forget it; I don’t need another “Grapes of Wrath.” When I was younger, I was more inclined to read novels, my favorite being “Shogun” by James Clavell, but as I became older my interests gravitated towards nonfiction, specifically history and biographies.

Because of my upbringing, I thought it was important to read to my children at night and took them to the library. Although they were good students, I don’t know if they were bitten by the same book bug, and I suspect a lot of people from Generations X/Y/Z followed suit. This puzzles me greatly. I just don’t see the love of reading anymore.

I believe a large part of the problem is the physical format of literature today. Whereas our generation was accustomed to hard bound or soft bound books, youth is more familiar with computer or cell phone screens today. The Internet, e-books and eZines have taken its toll on the printed word which is why paper is no longer king. It also explains why trade journals have disappeared, subscriptions to newspapers and magazines have greatly diminished, and we now see a rise in electronic book readers like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. Do such devices truly encourage leisurely reading as paperbacks did? I doubt it. Nonetheless, it is a fact of life.

Locally, a High School in our area is conducting an experiment for the county school system whereby they are eliminating all text books and replacing them with Amazon Kindles. In theory, it represents a cost effective solution but the real question is their readability. If this experiment results in impairment of student scores and grades, look for it to be dropped like a hot potato. If it’s successful though, I’ll be curious to see how it affects the love of literature by the students. My thinking is they will be more inclined to watch the movie “The Grapes of Wrath” on their iPods as opposed to reading it on their Amazon Kindles.

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. 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

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Literature, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THREE TYPES OF DESIGN EFFORT

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 27, 2010

Every once and a while I have to remind myself of my roots in the Information Systems world. In an Internet discussion group I monitor, a young programmer recently lamented his department spent an inordinate amount of time in “maintenance” and not new development. I do not believe this is what he meant to say but it reflects some common misconceptions about systems and programming.

Within any systems development organization, there are but three types of work effort: new systems development, maintenance, and modification/improvements. A mature development organization will spend approximately 5% of its time on new development, 10% on maintenance, and 85% of its time on modification/improvements. Let me be clear on our terminology; maintenance is nothing more than the correction of defects, making the system operate in accordance with the specifications of its design. However, the lion’s share of work is in modification/improvements (mod/imps) which represents changes and enhancements to existing systems. There is a good reason for this; very few companies live in a stagnant world, their information requirements are constantly changing due to such things as competition, economics, government regulation, mergers, acquisitions, diversifications, etc. The fact is, business lives in a world of constant change. Change is natural. In addition to changing information requirements, our technology is evolving. For example, software that operates on one computer, will not necessary behave the same on another, hence the need to modify it. The same is true to changes in operating systems and third party packages requiring upgrades from one version to another, thereby affecting in-house programs. The point is, systems and software people live and work in a world of change, not maintenance.

Knowing this, what can be done to accommodate design changes? Several things actually:

* Design system components to be reusable. Decomposing software into reusable building blocks is certainly not a new concept, but to do so requires certain organizational skills and discipline to make it happen. Sharing has to be built into the system component from the beginning, not added in later on. This means design standards have to be invented and reviews enacted to assure compliance. In addition, a repository to inventory and cross-reference such components also offers tremendous leverage to developers and promotes sharing and reusability.

The only alternative to the building block approach is to rewrite programs in their entirety. I have seen both scenarios played out in business. The building block approach is a more cost effective approach that can save considerable development time and money but, as mentioned, it requires organization and discipline in order to properly implement.

* Embrace standards. Uniformity in design means the development staff operates at a common level and shares a vocabulary which obviously improves productivity and simplifies both maintenance and mod/imps. If done properly, a systems analyst or programmer should be able to quickly understand what another developer has done and implement the necessary change quickly. As in the building block concept, design standards have to be adopted and enforced. Without enforcement, there is little point in formulating any standard.

Consideration should also be given to standard design processes so developers fully understand who is suppose to do what, when, where, why, and how. This of course means the use of standard methodologies which provides a road map for development work.

* Logical/physical design. Systems should be designed in such as way as to create independence from the physical environment which is prone to change. Since systems can be implemented physically many different ways, why not design them logically thereby simplifying technological implementation?

For more information on this concept, see my earlier paper entitled, “Logical vs. Physical Design: Do You Know the Difference?”

* Implement new tools to expedite development.

Since the bulk of a system development organization’s efforts are in modification/improvements it would make sense that management devise a means to expedite such work effort. Developers can either continue to rewrite systems and software, thereby consuming considerable time and expense, or they adopt some rather simple techniques that can greatly streamline their affairs. It ultimately depends on management’s willingness to implement organization and discipline in their department. Bottom-line, does management perceive systems development as a science or an art-form? If the former, yes, they can adopt such changes. If the latter, no, nothing will change and developers will continue to lament they are doing nothing more than operating in a maintenance mode.

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. 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

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Software, Systems, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHAT WORKS (AND WHAT DOESN’T)

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 24, 2010

We are all acutely aware of the problems in business today. It seems a day doesn’t go by we don’t hear of another faltering economic statistic, bankruptcy, foreclosure or whatever. It’s all very depressing. Are we really so incompetent that we cannot work out of these doldrums? I think we can, but I’m not sure we’re up to the challenge. I think deep down we’ve all known the answer to our problems, we’re just not willing to address them properly. Instead we tend to adopt quick and dirty solutions that superficially satisfy our problems, hence they are never truly conquered. To illustrate, below is a list of programs proven to be effective for producing positive results in business over the years.

* Proactive Management – we need forward thinking leaders who have the vision to shape their business, who can perform such tasks as planning, establishing objectives, priorities, and forecasts; and can lead their companies into the future.

* Craftsmanship – establishing an environment conducive for developing superior products with a high degree of quality. Such an environment benefits customers and sales, as well as worker self-esteem.

* Yankee ingenuity – the American entrepreneurial spirit is legendary and we can ill-afford to discourage it. We are at our best when we are allowed to take calculated risks thereby encouraging innovation and invention. To make this happen, we need fewer safety nets, not more, thereby emphasizing the concept of risk. This of course requires capitalism.

* Morality – a strong sense of ethics promotes much more than just honesty and personal integrity, it builds trust; trust between management and the work force, and trust between the vendor and the client. Morality is simply good business.

* Teamwork – a well organized team can obviously outperform individual effort. This requires establishing a spirit of cooperation as opposed to rugged individualism. “Win-Win” should be the mantra of the business.

* Customer Service – offer professional and courteous service to customers, treat them like the kings they are. It’s not good enough to build better products, but we must be willing to stand behind them with service and warranty programs.

* Follow the Golden Rule of Business – maximize income, minimize expenses. This includes maximizing productivity and minimizing nonessential interferences.

* The American Worker – when placed in the proper work environment, and set in motion in the right direction, there is nothing the American worker cannot conquer as we have demonstrated time and again over the years. Give them a purpose, a sense of accomplishment, and you’ll have fewer clock watchers. To do so though, workers need to take responsibility for their actions. This means empowering the workers by delegating responsibility to perform their assignments and holding them accountable for their actions. In addition, if management is going to ask workers to work hard, they should in turn be fairly compensated and treated as professionals.

* Government – business needs more government leadership and less regulation. Government should be encouraging business to move in certain directions, not mandating it. Business always works better when government is off their back.

What doesn’t work? That’s easy; simply the antithesis of the items listed above, such as reactive management, individualism, strong government regulation, amoral behavior, etc. Things like greed, corruption, apathy, laziness, entitlement, irresponsibility and petty corporate politics simply do not work, yet these are all commonly found in the American workplace today. It’s time we quit rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and get to work.

If we can agree the items listed above are effective techniques for promoting business, why then are we not using them? Examine each carefully again. Is it not economical to implement such programs? Is it bad for business to do so? Hardly. Again, we have been lulled into believing the best solutions are quick and dirty in nature. No Virginia, there is no panacea, just hard and determined work. We need to believe in ourselves again.

I am reminded of the old maxim, “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”Let’s do it right.

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. 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

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

LIBERALS AND THE MEDIA

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 23, 2010

For the longest time I had trouble understanding why so many people in the entertainment industry supported liberal causes. I thought it was perhaps nothing more than a coincidence. Whereas it was common policy years ago for entertainers to bite their tongues and say nothing which may compromise their careers, today it is more likely they will speak up at every opportunity and generously support liberal causes. It is of course their right to believe in such causes, but it troubled me why the lion’s share of Hollywood and the media is inclined to be liberal. Then it came to me…

Over the years the media has become quite astute as to what the public wants, be it in music, television, movies, comedy, news, art or advertising. In other words, they have developed expertise in what sells to the masses. This, of course, drives programming. They have become so good at it, not only do they believe they know the interests and tastes of the American public, but what is best for them. Thereby they have become adept at manipulating perspectives, values and morality like Pavlov’s dog, and therein rested my clue. Programming is dictated top-down, not bottom-up. They are not so much interested in what the masses want and need as opposed to manipulating what they want and need, thereby controlling what the public purchases. For example, suppose there are two products, “A” and “B.” “A” is without question the superior product. However, if the entertainment industry convinces the public that “B” is better, “A” will undoubtedly lose out. This is amazing power by anyone’s estimate.

Liberals share a similar perspective. They believe the public is not smart enough to know what is best for them and, unfortunately, there is a certain element of truth in this statement as many people behave like cattle, perfectly willing to have others prod them along in a certain direction. Further, liberals genuinely believe they know what is best for the masses which is why, not surprisingly, they believe in big government, another top-down approach for controlling the public. The entertainment industry and liberals share an elitist perspective over the public; “We know what is best for the masses.” It should come as no small wonder therefore that there is a marriage between liberals and the media. From their perspective, the public only exists to pay homage to “the chosen ones” who thrive on their adulation. This is egotistical arrogance at its worst.

In contrast, conservatives believe government exists to serve the people, not the other way around, which is more of a bottom-up perspective. Of course, this means less control for liberals and the entertainment industry. Consequently, entertainer’s are expected to stay in lockstep with liberal doctrine. If you are an up-and-comer in Hollywood, your career advances in proportion to your adherence to liberal causes. If you do not, you are openly criticized and reprimanded as what happened to conservatives like Tom Selleck, Dennis Miller, Janine Turner (TV’s “Northern Exposure”) who all have had to face the wrath of liberals.

When the “Tea Party” came along, the media greatly underestimated its influence and laughed it off as an inconsequential organization. As it gained in momentum and influence though, the media became intimidated and is understandably bent on its destruction as it represents the voice of the people, a group they are accustomed to controlling.

When you consider the compatible interests of liberal politicians and the entertainment industry, a marriage between the two parties seems rather natural. Their financial resources, as derived from the masses, also makes them an intimidating adversary. There are only three ways to hurt the marriage: to not financially support the products they offer (do not buy them), eliminate celebrity adulation (tune them out), and vote politicians out of office.

Conservatives like to believe there is either a single person or a central council calling the shots for the left. However, nobody believes President Obama is smart enough to be such an architect. Maybe not, but in order for conservatives to be successful they must be able to do battle on two fronts: the media and the left. They must devise a “divide and conquer” strategy that drives a stake between the two.

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. 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

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Media, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

MANAGING FROM THE BOTTOM-UP

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 22, 2010

“If we lived in a perfect world, there would not be a need for managers.”
– Bryce’s Law

When the American colonies were forming a government in the 18th century, there was a fleeting notion that George Washington should become King with absolute power. Instead, our founding fathers opted for a democratic society where officials were elected by the people. The intent was to give the individual citizen a means to participate in the running of the government. This was a wise decision and has served America well for over 225 years. By being included in the process, people align their loyalties to the government and country, and are quick to come to its defense in times of national emergency. Involving the individual is a simple gesture that has had long range positive effects on our country.

It is an interesting dichotomy that whereas our country involves the individual, most of our other institutions do not. I have been fortunate to have traveled the world and have seen many different types of companies, from large to small, and in just about every field of endeavor imaginable. Most are run top-down with a benevolent (or maybe not so benevolent) dictator at the helm. Assignments, estimates and schedules are pushed down the corporate chain with little regard for the individual employee.

Over the years there has been a lot of discussion about Theories X, Y, and Z in management; whereas “X” is autocratic, “Y” is more of a “carrot and stick” mentality and “Z” promotes individual participation. Remarkably, despite the many years of promoting the rights of the worker, today we primarily live in a Theory X world. Employees are told what to do and when to do it, without any interest in their input. Today, this is commonly referred to as “micromanagement.” Under this approach, although the work will eventually get done, there is no loyalty to the company by the employee, mistakes are made and quality suffers, and productivity declines since there is no personal sense of urgency by the employee. In other words, the company works, but not like a well-oiled machine.

More recently, I have noticed this same phenomenon occurring in non-profit volunteer organizations, such as homeowner associations, clubs, school organizations, sports associations, even church groups. The people that run these groups may have the best intentions, but rarely do they know how to actually manage. Sadly, some people get involved with such organizations to satisfy a petty power trip they are on. Consequently, they have little regard for organization and adherence to policies and rules. Instead, they try to micromanage everything. People, particularly volunteers, have a natural aversion to micromanagement and quickly lose interest in their work.

Let us always remember that the word “management” begins with “man” for a purpose: it refers to how we interact with people and, as such, it is not a clerical or administrative function, but, rather, a people function; how to work with the human being, a very challenging task considering you are dealing with human beings who can be emotional, irrational, and just plain “thick.” There is a countless number of books on the subject of “management” alone. But for our purposes, perhaps the best way to think of “management” is simply “getting people to do what you want, when you want it, and how you want it.” If we lived in a perfect world, there would not be a need for managers; people would know what to do, and projects would be executed on time and within cost. However, as we all know, we live in an imperfect world. People do make mistakes and problems arise, hence, the need for “managers”, people charged with assigning and directing the work of others. Managers are in the business of solving problems; people problems!

Some of the most productive organizations are those where management succeeded in getting the individual workers involved with the running of the company. Sure, management is still in control, but they have stimulated employee interests by encouraging their participation and feedback. Management still has some top-down responsibilities, including:

1. Delegate – prioritize and assign tasks to qualified employees.

2. Control work environment – minimize staff interferences and provide a suitable workplace to operate with the proper tools to perform the work.

3. Review progress – study employee reports and take corrective action where necessary.

Individual employees have bottom-up responsibilities to management:

1. Participate in the planning process – review work specifications and give feedback; estimate amount of time to perform an assignment, assist in the calculation of work schedules with management.

2. Perform work within time and costs constraints.

3. Report activities to management – including the use of time, interferences, and possible delays.

In this bottom-up approach, employees are treated as professionals and are expected to act as such in return. This results in far less supervision as found in micromanagement. Employees are delegated responsibility, supervise their own activities, and report to management on progress. This approach will work in any business, be it a corporation or non-profit volunteer organization. There is only one catch to this approach: some people resist assuming responsibility for their actions and prefer to have someone else tell them what to do; thereby when something goes awry, they can blame the other person for the snafu. This type of person is more suited for a dictator type of organization where they can continue to grouse about management, yet do nothing to help correct the problem. Aside from this, the benefits of the bottom-up approach far outweigh the negatives. It is simple and it works.

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.”
– Ronald Reagan (1986)

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. 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

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

PROGRESSIVES: LIBERALS IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 21, 2010

Ever notice when the media tries to slip something into our thought processes? It may seem innocent on the surface, but it actually has some subliminal meaning. Maybe it’s a new fashion statement or perhaps a new word added to our vernacular. They slip it in then build on it until it is an accepted concept. For example, the media has been increasingly talking about “Progressive” Democrats as if they are just that, people interested in implementing positive changes to our government. If you listen to the press carefully, you would get the impression that “progressives” are either moderates or possibly even conservatives. I’m sorry, this is just not so as “progressives” actually represent the left side of American politics.

The term “progressive” goes back to the Progressive Era which is considered the period between the 1890s to 1920s. This was an important movement aimed at cleaning up political corruption in government and women’s suffrage, among other things. A diverse set of noteworthy people gravitated to the movement including Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Charles Evans Hughes, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Booker T. Washington, Upton Sinclair, and Republican Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt (who implemented many such reforms during his presidency).

More recently, the “Progressive Democrats of America” (PDA) was formed in 2004 primarily by supporters of Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean. Make no mistake, it is not working in concert with moderate Democrats or Republicans, and it is most definitely not conservative in nature. They are unabashed liberals and although I do not agree with their policies, it is their right to hold their beliefs. I believe the term “progressive” was deliberately selected to conjure up images from a bygone era.

However, my problem is with the “progressive” label. One could deduce if you are not in agreement with the “progressive” point-of-view then you would be an “obstructionist” and therefore an impediment to progress. This is a very clever way of manipulating public perceptions for political gain, something the media seems more than willing to advance.

To me, “progressive” is subliminal brainwashing of the worst kind as it is misleading the public to believe their policies are not liberal in nature and therefore are more positive and palatable to implement. The reality is that “progressive” is a misnomer as it represents the doctrine of the left. One could, therefore, correctly assume that “progressives” are nothing more than liberals in sheep’s clothing.

Now, about those “Blue Dog” Democrats which we used to call “Dixiecrats”…

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. 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

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Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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DOING YOURSELF OUT OF A JOB

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 20, 2010

Many years ago, early in my career, I was meeting with a client in Canada where we were discussing the characteristics of a good manager. My friend made the observation that the true hallmark of a good manager is “He does himself out of a job.” This means the manager has groomed his staff into running the department smoothly even when the manager was absent from the office. I accept this premise and have passed it on to others over the years.

“Doing yourself out of a job” is not as easy as it may sound. The staff has to be well trained and organized; everyone should know what their duties and responsibilities are and eager to execute accordingly. In other words, the manager has to train and inspire the staff to be conscientious workers. Further, the manager needs to delegate responsibility and empower people. If one person drops the ball, another should know how to pick it up and run with it without being asked.

Another part of this philosophy is to groom your people for succession whereby the manager realizes he will not be in this particular job forever and in order to maintain continuity, while minimizing disruptions, it is necessary to prepare for his inevitable replacement. After all, the manager may want to go on to bigger and better things himself.

All of this means the manager needs to invest in his workers, to cultivate their talents and gain their trust. This is more than just teaching skills and developing the organizational infrastructure, it is also a matter of possessing good interpersonal relations/communications.

This approach to management is uncommon regardless of the organizational entity, be it corporate or nonprofit in nature. Because of our inclination to practice “Micromanagement,” whereby the manager personally directs the actions of others, such a scenario is unlikely in today’s workplace. Power hungry “control freaks” refuse to let go of the reigns. Consequently, should the manager be promoted, transferred or fired, the organization experiences disruption and upheaval which, of course, is counterproductive.

As to my friend in Canada, he eventually went on to bigger and better things himself. When he finally departed, his old department was prepared for the transition and hummed along without missing a beat. His successor picked up where he left off and made some changes to the department to reflect his style of management. Nonetheless, he was smart enough to maintain his predecessor’s philosophy and that particular management position has changed over many times over the years, all very smoothly. Basically, they all did themselves out of a job.

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. 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

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

DOG STORIES

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 17, 2010

If you ever owned a dog, you’ve probably got a favorite story you like to tell, all dog owners seem to have such an affliction; here’s mine.

Many years ago when we lived in southwest Connecticut our house was nestled on three acres in the woods. At the time, we had a large German shepherd named “Duke” who was a beautiful animal and a great watchdog. Nobody got into our house without Duke’s consent, and I mean nobody. I’m not going to say he was an aggressive dog but he knew he was the cock of the roost in our neighborhood as other dogs kept their distance. This of course meant we didn’t allow Duke to run free in the area even though it was wooded. Instead, my father hooked up a metal cable from the back of our house down the slope behind our property to a tree about 75 yards away. He then attached a chain to the cable, one end to slide along the cable and the other end to the dog. It was a secure connection yet afforded Duke considerable freedom down the back of our house into the woods.

The section of the cable that ended at the house stopped by our carport which offered Duke a dry area in the event of rain. We didn’t leave the dog out constantly, but he did enjoy being outside particularly in such a scenic setting. In the carport we also stored shovels, rakes, garbage cans and our bicycles. At the time, I had a large J.C. Higgins bicycle which was a brand offered by Sears many years ago. It was an adult sized bike which I had trouble peddling as a small kid. My parents thought I would quickly “grow into it.” Right. Ever try to operate a bicycle where your feet cannot reach the bottom of the peddles? This led to more than one crash before I finally “grew into it.”

Anyway, one day I came home from school and parked my bicycle in the carport. My mother had put Duke on the wire before I got home and, as usual, the dog was glad to see me. I petted and scratched him before going into the house. I don’t know how he did it but during the commotion, Duke somehow got his chain wrapped around the handle bars of the bike, not just once but twice. After awhile he naturally wanted to go down the stairs in the back and out into the woods. As he moved though, the chain wrapped more tightly around the bike. You’ve got to remember that Duke was a big dog and, as such, a tug on the chain wouldn’t necessarily deter him. Consequently, the further he walked down the back, the bike began to move. So much so, the bike suddenly left the carport and went airborne down the chain. I can only imagine what that dog thought as he saw a large J.C. Higgins come rolling down the wire straight at him. Naturally, the dog ran off to elude the monster chasing him, but no matter how fast he ran the bicycle remained in hot pursuit. He finally made it to the end of the wire and hid behind the tree it was tied to. Only after the dog stopped did my bicycle come to a halt.

When I came back outside to the carport I could find neither my bicycle or dog. At first, I thought someone may have stolen them, but when I looked down the wire at the other end I saw my J.C. Higgins menacingly standing guard over a large German shepherd cowering behind a tree with its tail between its legs. It was quite a site; “some fearless animal” I thought. For a long time afterwards I noticed Duke kept his distance from the J.C. Higgins. He didn’t trust it. Evidently this was a serious problem for Sears who discontinued the brand shortly thereafter.

Have you got a favorite dog story? Drop me a line and tell me about it.

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. 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

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in humor, Pets | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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