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Archive for December, 2010


Posted by Tim Bryce on December 2, 2010

As many of you know, I have never been a big fan of cell phones, particularly as people use them when driving their cars. My loathe for them was such that I vowed to be the last man on the planet to own one. Well, after seeing countless housewives in the grocery store talking on them, the multitude of idiots using them in cars, kids on tricycles, the homeless gabbing away, even prisoners using them, and finally seeing nobody else in line ahead of me, I finally succumbed and acquiesced to get one. Actually, my wife got it for me as she was frustrated in tracking me down and felt it was time to bell the cat.

Unlike a lot of people, I see the cell phone as something used in emergencies and not as an integral part of my daily life. I can do very well without one, thank you. No, I do not need a cell phone to relieve the tedium of waiting in traffic, the radio will do just fine; nor do I find it necessary to entertain someone while sitting on the toilet or standing in the shower. There is a time and place for everything and I do not believe cell phones fall into these categories. Then again, this is not the first time I’ve been accused of being old fashioned, and likely it will not be the last. I tend to believe I am more pragmatic about the use of the cell phone than most and have no intention of allowing it to change my life style. Consequently, I hereby pledge the following in the use of my cell phone:

* That I will not use it while driving an automobile. If I really need to use it, I’ll pull off the road to talk on it thereby not causing a traffic hazard.

* That I will not use it in the bathroom. I’m sorry, if another party wants my full attention, they will just have to wait.

* That I will keep it muted or off in a public venue and if I find it necessary to talk to someone in a public setting, I will excuse myself so that I do not interrupt others.

* That if I find myself in a situation where I must either focus my attention on either a pressing problem at hand or talk to another party on the cell phone, I will quickly determine which has priority and devote my attention to one or the other, but not both. In other words, I may ask the caller to excuse me so I can finish what I am doing and will call them back when it is convenient for me to do so.

* That I will be judicious in distributing my cell phone number. I don’t need another blockhead calling me regarding some inconsequential nonsense. If I give you my number, it means I trust your judgment, value your friendship or business, and recognize you will not redistribute it to others unless I ask you to. Further, I will do likewise to safeguard the cell phone numbers I have in my address book.

* If I have a voice mail message that says I will call you back, I will, but if I have a voice mail message stating I will be unable to return calls, don’t hold your breath.

* That I will not send text messages while driving or performing some critical function.

* That I will read the manual even though it is written incomprehensibly by programmers who haven’t got a clue what “user friendly” means.

In other words, I pledge not to let the cell phone run my life, but I’ll run it instead. I may be the last man on Earth to get a cell phone, but, alas, I fear I’ll be the first to use it rationally.

EPILOGUE: I first published this column on May 5, 2009. Since then I have remained true to my pledge. I just wish more people did likewise.

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

For Tim’s columns, see:

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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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Posted by Tim Bryce on December 1, 2010

A few things recently got me thinking about the American propensity to “leap before we look.” The recent Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and the Health Care Bill (aka “Obamacare”) are two good examples of fatal deficiencies in our ability to plan. In terms of the Gulf disaster, I was stunned we had no contingency plan as a lot of other countries do. We were simply unprepared for such disasters. Obamacare was different though; instead of taking the time to prepare a full feasibility study, as is customary in the business world, some cockamamie bill was cooked up in a back room in Washington and shoved down our throats. It’s no small wonder people revolted against it. This is a prime example of short stroking the planning process and rushing to implementation. The excuse often is, “We don’t have time to do it right.” Translation: “We have plenty of time to do it wrong,” thereby creating more problems with the program than it cures. This is precisely what we now have with Obamacare, a mess. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are probably shortcomings and problems in our current health care system, and we could probably do more to help others, but how Obamacare was produced was plain and simply wrong and consequently Congress and the President wasted a lot of time rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The next question is, why do we tend to resist planning? Not just the politicians, but throughout the corporate world (particularly in the I.T. world where planning is openly spurned). The short answer: “Because it requires work.”

The long answer: People tend to resist gazing into the crystal ball and prefer to react to life as it passes them by. Some people believe planning in today’s ever changing world is a waste of time, that you must be more “agile” and accommodate changes as they occur. As anyone who has designed and built anything of substance knows, this is utterly ridiculous. We would not have the many great skyscrapers, bridges, dams, highways, ships, planes, and other sophisticated equipment without the efforts of architects and engineers. Without such planning, our country would look essentially no different than how the pioneers first discovered the continent. Although we must certainly be flexible in our plans, and we will inevitably make some mistakes along the way, little progress would be made if we did not try to plan a course of action and control our destiny.

People often take planning for granted, that someone else will be making plans for us, such as government officials, our corporate management, or even the elders of our families. Consequently we become rather lax about looking into the future. Nor is there any encouragement by anyone to plan our affairs, such as a tax break. Whereas other countries offer incentives to save money for the future, such as Japan, America does not. Therefore, planning is a rather personal activity; we either see the virtue in doing so or we do not.

Americans have become legendary reactionaries who procrastinate until it is too late. We see this in everything from business planning, to career planning, family planning, financial planning, and even planning for our demise. It is simply not in the American psyche to plan, but to react instead. There are plenty of examples to illustrate the point; such as Pearl Harbor (where General Billy Mitchell predicted the attack with great accuracy 17 years prior to December 7th, 1941); there is also Hurricane Katrina (where engineers and government officials knew well in advance of the weaknesses in New Orleans’ system of dykes and levees, yet did nothing about it); and, of course, 9/11 (where we learned a hard lesson of dropping our defenses in the face of terrorism).

Years ago, a long range business plan was for five-to-ten years. Such plans have become scarce in recent times; probable casualties of a dynamic world economy. Now, “long range” either means until the end of the fiscal year or end of the quarter. It is even difficult to get a prioritized list of objectives for a department, let alone a whole company. Instead, companies are now operating under a whirlwind of ever changing “priority ones,” thus confusing workers and causing them to be counterproductive.

In the I.T. arena, planning is still very much a faux pas, but then again, it has always been such. For example, in our “PRIDE”-Information Systems Engineering Methodology (ISEM), developers would like to skip through the early phases used for planning and design, in order to get to the programming phases. In other words, they didn’t feel comfortable in planning and instead preferred to be writing software. This makes for an interesting paradox: although they liked to skip down to programming (where the “real work” was performed), they also liked to complain about deficiencies in requirements definition and other design specifications (which would naturally result from the preceding phases had they been performed). The most common excuse you hear from developers is, “The users do not know what they want.” Basically, this is an admission that the developer is either not properly trained in or lacks the discipline to plan properly.

Part of the problem is that we have become very impatient for results and I think this can be attributed to our technology. For example, we now expect information at our fingertips, instant communications, quick turnarounds in medicine, etc. Instead of patiently waiting for results, we now want instant gratification. Consequently, activities such as planning are perceived as interferences for getting a job done.

There are, of course, several tools available for planning: calendars, statistics and trend analysis, blueprinting and flowcharting, feasibility studies, priority modeling tools, etc.

If we do not understand or appreciate the need for something, we tend to avoid it, but that is not the excuse here. We all have at least a rudimentary idea of what simple planning can do for us, we just balk at doing it.

We fail in planning not because we lack the proper tools, there are actually quite a lot of them available to us, but simply because we lack the discipline or desire to do so. Rather, we prefer to wait until disaster strikes so we can blame others for our problems and hope they can bail us out.

Like it or not, planning represents work. It is also something many of us are not disciplined to do, regardless of how simple it is to perform. We can rationalize why we do not plan all we want, but in the end, it is because of one thing, plain and simple: we are lazy.

“Remember, it’s Ready, Aim, Fire; any other sequence is counterproductive.”
– Bryce’s Law

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

For Tim’s columns, see:

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.

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