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Archive for October, 2011

ARE AWARDS REALLY IMPORTANT?

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 30, 2011

I recently snuck away for a little fly fishing in North Carolina with a couple of friends who happen to be illustrators, very respectable ones I might add. One is a personal friend I have known for many years and although we have different professional backgrounds, we inevitably talk about business. The art industry is a highly competitive field, probably because colleges have been churning out a glut of artists, illustrators, and graphic designers over the years. Compounding the problem is the computer which greatly leverages the ability of even the most mediocre talent. Frankly though, companies do not care whether a piece of artwork was created by hand or with computer assistance. They just want a graphic which will enhance an article, a magazine, a book, or whatever. This means the graphics business is not just competitive, but fiercely so.

Within the art world, there is a multitude of awards for excellence at the local, regional, and national levels, even some international awards. All are considered prestigious to a certain degree, some more than others, and artists and illustrators regularly enter their work in hopes of gaining some recognition. In particular, young people crave such awards in the hopes it will boost their career and look good on a resume. As my illustrator friends were quick to point out, such awards may be useful for stroking one’s ego, but they certainly do not put food on the table. Consequently, it is not uncommon for winners of such awards to bypass award presentations as they are more focused on their next job.

You typically find more awards in the arts as opposed to the sciences, even though they have their fair share as well. Instead, sciences rely more on certifications denoting a person is properly skilled to perform a certain task. Whereas, awards stroke the ego, certificates offer prima facie evidence of your qualifications. It means you have passed certain tests of workmanship.

As my friends correctly pointed out, your job performance is more important than any award you can win. The applause of your customers is much more important than winning the esteem of your critics and contemporaries. Satisfied customers represent repetitive business and a more consistent cash flow. They also make better references than any award.

If you find yourself being squeezed between working on a billable job and winning an award, don’t think twice about it, take the money and run. Your work is much more important than any award.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

LICENSE PLATES

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 27, 2011

For many years, automobile license plates came in basically two colors. Each plate listed the state name at the top, the tag number in the middle, and perhaps a state motto on the bottom, such as “Land of Lincoln” (IL), “Constitution State” (CT), “Empire State” (NY), “Sunshine State” (FL), etc. That was it; simple and easy to read. Somewhere along the way though, license plates evolved into sophisticated bumper stickers which allowed their owners to proudly make a statement of some kind to the world. It started with vanity plates where the owner could pay a little extra to arrange the characters on the license plate to their liking. For example, since the “PRIDE” methodology was our main product for many years, we had an Ohio license plate made with the word printed on it. As nice as our plate looked, it was still nothing more than blue letters on white, or white on green (depending on the year we reordered it).

Somewhere in the 1980’s someone finally figured out that license plates lacked “pizzazz” and started introducing graphical images on the plates to make them look more appealing, a sort of p.r. tool for the states. In Florida, for example, a light green image of the state was placed in the middle of the plate with two oranges and blossoms over it to denote our famous citrus industry. This graphic has been with us for a long time now and has become an icon of the state. Many other states followed suit and soon a race was on as to who could design the most eye catching state license plate.

Even though vanity plates had been with us for some time, people next wanted to express their allegiance to a specific organization they belong to or a cause worth supporting, and to do so, a wide array of new plates were introduced which people could obtain, for a tidy fee. I suspect Florida is not too different than a lot of states in this regard. Now instead of a single plate, which is still available by default, people can purchase designer based license plates to support such things as the university they graduated from, a favorite professional sports team, branches of the military, a favorite conservation project, or some other special interest. In Florida alone there are 120 different types of designer plates available:

24 – Environmental (“Save the Florida Panther” or “Manatee”, etc.)
36 – Universities (FSU, UF, USF, Miami, and many others)
51 – Misc (military and charities)
9 – Professional Sports (Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and Jacksonville)
120 – TOTAL

Soon there will be 121 for the “Veterans of Foreign Wars.” For environmental issues or charities, the extra money charged for the plate is donated to the cause, less the state’s cut. One of the more avant-garde license plates I’ve come across in Florida is the John Lennon “Imagine” plate which includes the iconic Lennon self portrait he drew years ago. I wasn’t exactly sure what this plate stood for; at first I thought Florida was now allowing people to put their favorite Rock and Roll band on license plates causing me to wonder if they had one for “Black Sabbath.” As it turned out, the Lennon plate supported Florida’s Food Banks in reference to Lennon’s lyrics, “Imagine no greed or hunger…”

It must be difficult for Florida state troopers to stay abreast of valid license plates. Not only must they stay abreast of the 120+ versions of Florida’s plates, but they have to keep an eye on all the permeations of northern “snowbird” plates as brought down during the winter months. I do not envy the troopers having to figure out what is a legitimate plate and which is a phony. I think I would be a bit suspicious if I saw the “Black Sabbath” plate.

The only other group affected by this are the state prisoners who are normally charged with manufacturing license plates. One good thing about the variety of tags now available though, it should certainly break up the monotony of having to produce a single plate. After all, we have to keep our prisoners busy, don’t we?

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

OUR NATIONAL GOAL: ENERGY INDEPENDENCE

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 25, 2011

Back in 1962, President Kennedy challenged the country to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, and by doing so he established a national objective for us to aspire to. We met that goal and won the space race. In the process, we created new technologies, industries, jobs, and promoted education in the process. Basically, it reinvigorated the country, bringing us out of the doldrums, and created a boom-time in business. It was a win-win scenario all around, but that was then, this is now. Today, the space program is considered passé and the country is experiencing economic stagnation. Frankly, we don’t know where we are going anymore, except possibly in circles.

We should learn a thing or two from Kennedy’s challenge and establish a new goal. Perhaps it should be underwater research, fix the national infrastructure, or devise a new rapid transit system. To me, the logical choice would be to establish energy independence as our national priority, thereby freeing us from Middle Eastern entanglements and economic extortion.

Such a national goal would invigorate education, particularly in the areas of geology, engineering, and mathematics. New technologies would inevitably be devised to access and cultivate energy resources. We already know there are huge reserves of untapped oil, gas, and coal in this country which we should capitalize on. Beyond this, there is the prospect of nuclear, wind, solar, and oceanic energies which we should continue to pursue. Whoever masters the energy resources of the world commands their own destiny. Currently though, we are forced to dance to somebody else’s fiddle which does not bode well for our economic well-being.

4.3 billion barrels of oil have been discovered in Montana and North Dakota, easily dwarfing oil production in the Middle East. We are also sitting on a huge gas field in Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, and Western New York. And let us not forget the other billions of barrels of oil in Alaska and off our shores. Such resources offer a golden opportunity to relieve our economic plight as exemplified by the current oil rush in North Dakota and Montana where jobs are aplenty.

The challenge, of course, is extracting the energy without harming our environment, which is why we need a national challenge to meet our demand without hurting ourselves. Like Kennedy, this requires presidential leadership which, unfortunately, is lacking at this time. The benefits are simply too numerous to overlook. A national energy objective would put the country back to work, promote education, research and development of technology, and free us from foreign entanglements which have plagued us for years.

A single clearly articulated statement of our national resolve could work wonders for us right now. It would give us a sense of direction and hope. There are countries who command gold reserves, diamonds and minerals, etc. Frankly, I’ll settle for being the energy merchant of the world. Everybody else will be forced to fall in line behind us.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

THE 99% COMPLETE SYNDROME

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 23, 2011

It is an undocumented fact that the last 1% of anything takes longer than the other 99%. There are plenty of examples to support this argument, perhaps none quite as visible as the progress bars we see on computers. You know, those little bars telling you how you are progressing in the installation of software or the execution of a program. More often than not, such progress bars seem to race through the first 99% like a blazing track star, yet when we get to that last 1% it seems to slow down to a snail’s pace.

I have also witnessed this same phenomenon in project management situations. As we were building our office in Florida our contractor proudly proclaimed he was 99% complete and we should prepare ourselves to move in. Interestingly, that last 1% dragged on for days, weeks, and even a few months, thereby delaying inspections and prohibiting our move.

In the Information Technology field, it is difficult to get a realistic picture of how much work remains on a project. Programmers love to announce they are 99% complete in writing their programs, but somehow that last 1% never seems to come to conclusion. Either something was wrong in the design of their software they hadn’t anticipated, something had changed, or gremlins had compounded their best efforts. Regardless, the project never ends.

This phenomenon is related to our perspective on work, specifically, “Is the glass half empty or half filled?” Instead of focusing on the work completed, people should be more concerned with the amount of effort remaining. For example, instead of asking about percentages, workers should be constantly evaluating the amount of effort required to complete remaining tasks in hours. Only after this is known should we consider the application of percentages, not before. Unfortunately, that is not the mindset in most project environments. Instead, people tend to consider the amount of work expended against the original estimate, not the remaining effort. This is certainly not a realistic or reliable way of reporting progress. It is pure fantasy.

Surprisingly, there are still quite a few project management packages allowing people to post percentages as opposed to automatically calculating it based on the estimate of hours remaining on project tasks which is simply ludicrous.

So, next time you hear someone claim they are 99% complete with something, it means they still have a long way to go and the person hasn’t got a clue when it will be completed, but it’s close…maybe. Ask yourself this, when was the last time you saw the final two minutes of a football game finish within 120 seconds? I’ve never seen it either.

“The last 1% of a project can take as long as the first 99%.” – 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 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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

TRUE FRIENDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 20, 2011

Over the years I have been fortunate to have had a handful of people I could genuinely call “True Friends.” To me, there is a difference between having “friends” and those considered True Friends. A True Friend is someone who not only shares your interests, but has a personality very compatible with your own. So much so, you are not afraid to share your personal thoughts and problems with him/her and respect their opinion. You laugh together, play together, share troubles together, and sometimes work together. In this respect, a True Friend becomes an extended part of your family. He/she may not be your spouse, but a True Friend will know you almost as well. True Friends serve an important purpose for our soul, to be a sounding board for our triumphs, our failures and frustrations, our sense of right and wrong, our insecurities, and our ambitions. From a self analysis perspective, a True Friend is vital to help satisfy our desire for guidance and approval. Such a sounding board is invaluable to our mental well-being. Family is one thing, True Friends are something else. The fact that a person comes from outside the family circle means they will have a different perspective and will offer you a fresh point-of-view that you will probably not find in your natural family.

Remarkably, there are many people who may have had plenty of friends, but never a True Friend. True Friendship requires trust and respect whereby you trust a person will not betray a confidence and you respect their judgment and opinion. To do so means you must reveal glimpses of your personality and character to your friend until you are convinced they will maintain your best interests and not ridicule or blab your inner thoughts to others. And herein lies the rub; some people are frightened by the mere prospect of ridicule or judgment by others, and thereby refuse to open their kimono to anyone, possibly even their spouses. Their deepest and darkest secrets stay locked up in their consciousness intermixed among many other frivolous insecurities. In other words, there is no release mechanism to relieve stress thereby inviting a variety of personality disorders, such as paranoia, persecution, rationalization, loneliness, etc.

I have known many people who could socialize well, but remained guarded over their personality and consequently had no true friends. While some exhibit narcissistic characteristics, I have met others who appeared rather normal, perhaps because they were supremely confident in their ability to make decisions and pass judgment. I have met others who desperately yearn for someone to talk to, other than their spouses, yet are frightened to confide in another person, regardless of how long they have known them. Such people can certainly be friendly, but they will drift through life never knowing what a True Friend is. Like a marriage, True Friendship requires give and take. In order to know more about another person, you have to give more of yourself. It is certainly not a one-way street.

True Friends do not abandon each other. Even if you physically move great distances away, the friendship remains intact. One of the benefits I have enjoyed with my True Friends is the ability to pick up where we left off. We may not have seen each other for years, but we intuitively know each other. If I telephone them, there is no pretenses, we just carry on from where we left off. We simply know each other too well.

True Friends fill a void we desperately need from a psychological perspective. The death of such a person can be as traumatic as the loss of a family member. A little bit of us dies with that person as our sounding board, our confidant, our inner thoughts are ultimately buried with that person.

You have to pity the people who have never experienced the joy of a True Friend.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

THE PAVLOVIAN EFFECT IN POLITICS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 18, 2011

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who is best remembered for his work on “conditioned reflex” in the later part of the 19th century and early 20th century. His work was primarily concerned with modifying behavior based on repetitive conditioning. His experiments are still well known, particularly with dogs where he observed they began to salivate the moment food was introduced, but he also performed similar experiments on children with similar success. Pavlov’s work was well regarded by the young Soviet government, including Lenin who saw the value of his experiments. His behavioral research led to such things as memory implantation and brainwashing.

Pavlov may be long gone but his work is very much a part of our lives today. To illustrate, if you use the expression, “The rich should pay their fair share of taxes,” some people instantly assume the rich have been cheating the government, that they are misers (and bad people), and should be coerced to pay more than they currently do as punishment. Trying to persuade people otherwise is futile. They do not think about the statement; instead it is simply an image stamped on their mind that they have been conditioned to act on instantly. “Trickle down economics” is a similar political catch phrase that generates a similar response. People don’t know what it really means, whether it is a valid concept or not, but they have been conditioned to believe it is evil.

A similar phenomenon occurs when people accuse the Tea Party of racism. Consequently, the masses develop a conditioned response that all Tea Partiers are racists. The fact there are people of all colors and denominations in the Tea Party is immaterial to those indoctrinated like Pavlov’s dog.

A lot of this is fostered by the media who has the ability to transmit selected images and sound bites over and over again until it becomes second nature to their audience. The media is also the self-appointed Political Correctness (PC) police. If a word is deliberately or accidentally misspoken, said out of context or does not conform to the current rules of political correctness, the audience is stunned by the statement and the speaker is savagely assaulted by the PC police. For example, if you use the word “homosexual” instead of “gay”, you are instantly labeled a “homophobe” or “hate monger.” As an aside, I find it amusing to see a Hollywood movie from the 1930’s where people openly admit they had a “gay” time at a party last night (I’ll bet they didn’t know homosexuals were invited).

The disturbing part of the Pavlovian effect in American politics is that you are guilty until proven innocent, and in most cases it is impossible to clear your name as the public has these preconceived notions indelibly stamped on their psyche. You cannot argue or have logical discourse with such people as their responses have been conditioned by endless media and political spin.

We now live in an age of sound bites and brief images which people are more inclined to grasp than to seek the truth. They’re small, they’re simple, and easy to digest. If said or shown repetitively via the media, the audience will be conditioned to salivate on queue.

I seriously doubt our forefathers could survive in the 21st century. There is no doubt people like Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln would be chewed up and spit out by the politics of today. As for someone like Mark Twain or Will Rogers, who spoke candidly about social conditions in our country, they would no doubt be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

WHEN IS IT NECESSARY TO CHANGE?

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 16, 2011

Among the nonprofit organizations I belong to, there is one where I serve as secretary of the local branch. Like any nonprofit, there are records to be maintained, dues notices to be issued, reports to be filed with headquarters, minutes to be taken, and different mailings made to the membership. It’s not exactly rocket science. When I assumed office, I implemented a data base management system (DBMS) to track membership records and generate reports and mailing labels. I also send as much documentation as possible by e-mail in order to save money on postage and printing costs. All of this has saved us considerable time, effort, and money.

Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed our headquarters has changed the way they produce the annual dues cards and notices for the local branches. Prior to this, the dues notices were printed on a 80 column high speed printer on special carbon stock that formed an envelope and insert. All that was necessary was to burst the envelopes along the perforation marks, slap a stamp on it, and throw it in the mail. The envelope and enclosed dues notice may not have been graphically dazzling, but it worked quite well for many years. Likewise, dues cards were printed on the same high-speed printer which were also burst and separated along perforation marks. Again, the card wasn’t the most elegant from a graphical perspective, but it wasn’t bad either.

This all changed recently where the dues notices, cards, and mailing labels are now printed on special stock and are graphically impressive. The problem though is they are cumbersome to separate, fold, and insert in envelopes (which we now have to purchase separately). In other words, what was once a relatively simple task had become more labor intensive, costing more time and money to perform. The big question is, Why? What was headquarters trying to accomplish? To perhaps produce a better looking card that is stored and forgotten in a wallet? To produce a better looking dues notice for the post office? As someone who has been in the systems business for a number of years, I suspect the old approach was considerably cheaper to perform.

The scenario I describe herein happens every day not just in nonprofit organizations, but in corporations around the world. If anything is constant, it is change (Bryce’s Law). We live in a perpetual state of change where our systems change, our businesses change, our people change, and our technology changes. Change is natural and can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as government regulations, competition, economics, etc. The point is, you change when it is absolutely necessary to do so, not just because you contrarily feel like doing so. Change for the sake of change is madness. The example I describe is one where change is implemented merely to appear fashionable. There was no other reason as the old approach was working just fine, thank you. The point is, you should change only when it is cost effective to do so. This means it is necessary to demonstratively prove you offer a better solution; saving money or time, or perhaps a totally new avenue aimed at addressing specific business needs. In the case I described, I do not believe the developers did their homework and, because of this, have complicated the lives of many branch secretaries; all because someone wanted to show he was being fashionable with technology, which is perhaps the worst reason for change (yet is quite common). Always remember, there is a heavy price to pay for keeping up with the Jones’.

I can tell you authoritatively, whoever redesigned the dues notices and cards at headquarters was certainly not a systems man. Probably nothing more than a glorified programmer in sheep’s clothing.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

BRYCE’S LAWS (continued)

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 13, 2011

Many years ago I devised a framed poster for my father, Milt Bryce, which I presented him at Christmas. I entitled it “Bryce’s Laws,” which was patterned after “Murphy’s Laws.” In it, I listed the many axioms he had coined over the years pertaining to systems, management, and other technical concepts. The poster delighted not only my father, but our customers as well who quickly snapped up the copies we produced. Since then, “Bryce’s Laws,” have survived on the Internet at our web site.

Of course, the laws didn’t stagnate, we kept adding to them over the years and continue to do so today, and not just by Milt, who passed away in 2005, but by other members of the clan including yours truly.

The following is a set of “Bryce’s Laws” aimed at life in general, not just management or technology. I hope you will enjoy them:

If anything in life is constant, it is change.

An elegant solution to the wrong problem solves nothing.

There is only one problem with common sense; it is not very common.

When you are constructing a building, it’s a bad idea to start with the roof.

The only good business relationship is where both parties benefit.

The ethics of a business are whatever the top-dog says they are.

“We never have enough time to do things right.”
Translation: “We have plenty of time to do things wrong.”

A man’s trustworthiness is measured by the number of keys he holds.

Most children are raised by amateurs, not professionals.

Never trust a person who doesn’t have at least one known vice.

Lawsuits primarily benefit the attorneys and nobody else.

You eat elephants one spoonful at a time.

If the mind really is the finest computer, then there are a lot of people out there who need to be rebooted.

It’s hard to keep going forward when logic tells you otherwise.

There is more to building a team than buying new uniforms.

A resume is either an accurate description of a person’s capabilities or demonstrates how well someone can write fiction.

Youth is our only true vacation in life, and our most unappreciated.

It’s not the time you put in, it’s the work product you put out.

The road to truth is rarely without bumps and bends.

Nothing irritates your opponents more than to see you succeed when you are expected to fail.

Do not underestimate the power of the company party.

Progress is arrested when we surrender to the status quo, that we no longer strive to exceed it.

Sometimes intelligence is nothing more than experience in disguise.

The longer you delay admitting a mistake, the more expensive it will be to correct.

All arguments are settled at the cemetery.

There is always a heavy price to pay for keeping up with the Jones’.

In every person’s life, you must eat at least one spoonful of dirt.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

MEASURING GOVERNMENT TRANSACTIONS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 11, 2011

I have long been a proponent of flattening the federal government, a beast I consider to be overbearing and out of control. I tend to see it more as an albatross around our necks impeding progress as opposed to expediting and simplifying our lives. I have written on this subject many times in the past, even offering some suggestions on how to flatten it, such as, “Enterprise Engineering the Federal Government,” a methodology which compares the logical model of a business to its physical counterpart thereby providing a convenient means to identify overlapping work effort, excessive layers of management, and omissions in delivering work products.

There’s another simple benchmark available for scrutinizing government productivity, something actually quite common and easy to use. As my background is in systems, I learned a long time ago one of the key elements in measuring work is in the area of processing transactions. All systems, whether performed manually or with computer assistance involves the processing of transactions. Let me be clear what I mean by this; a transaction is an event between two objects, from one to another, for example, in banking a deposit is a transaction, a withdrawal is a transaction, an inquiry on an account balance is a transaction. A purchase is a transaction; a query is a transaction; printing a document on the computer is a transaction, recording the manufacturing of a widget is a transaction, etc. Everything we do in business and government is based on the processing of transactions, either one at a time (as in an interactive application), or in groups (as in what is referred to as batch processing).

In order to determine the most suitable processing solution, system developers study the amount of time and costs involved with processing a volume of transactions. There may be tradeoffs between the two considerations; whereas a transaction may be processed quickly, it may be costly to do so based on the available manpower and technology at the time. Conversely, slower transaction processing may be less costly. The goal is to find the most cost effective solution, not necessarily what is most technically elegant. To illustrate, payroll is typically produced for groups of employees at one time (batch), as opposed to one employee at a time, primarily because it is more practical and economical to do so.

Let’s consider how transaction processing affects the federal government. To do so, I’ll use the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as an example. According to available data on the Internet, the IRS operates with a budget of approximately $11 billion (with over 106,000 employees). Typically the IRS processes a total of 173 million tax returns (representing transactions). When we divide the number of transactions by the IRS operating budget, we arrive at a figure of approximately $63.58/transaction. The question then becomes, is this reasonable or does it suggest inefficiency? If the latter, we should endeavor to ascertain the reason and correct it. I realize this example is a gross simplification of how to calculate transaction processing, but the reader should be able to see what I’m driving at, that the various departments, agencies, and bureaus of the government can be effectively scrutinized simply by examining how they process transactions, which should be rather easy to do I might add.

It would be interesting to see a study of transaction processing of the entire federal government. Corporations do it, why not government? Some say the government is simply too massive to study. Baloney. That’s a defeatist attitude. I contend we cannot afford not to do it. Are we afraid what we might find or that we might not have the stomach for correcting it? If you’re too squeamish, give me the knife and I’ll be glad to perform the surgery.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

OBAMA v2.0

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 4, 2011

Even if you are not a fan of the president’s ability to manage and lead the nation, you have to admire his political chutzpah. Even in the face of socioeconomic disaster and sagging numbers in the polls, he has the uncanny ability to make people believe in his convoluted vision of America. Now that the 2012 U.S. elections are just thirteen months away, he has crafted a diabolical strategy whereby he has repackaged his failed ideas into new proposals even when the Republicans admonish him, “The Emperor has no clothes!”

It began last November following the midterm elections when the conservative Republicans swept into the House of Representatives. Suddenly, he divorced himself from the “liberal” moniker and painted himself as a mainstream moderate, thereby making his politics appear more palatable to the masses. As it became apparent the “stimulus” and “bailout” programs lacked effectiveness, even appearing to make the economy worse, he eliminated such words from his vocabulary. Then, during the Debt Ceiling debate this summer, he learned Congress would no longer tolerate his spending spree which even his own “Moment of Truth” Commission told him would have to be cut.

As his popularity plummeted in the polls, the president defied conventional wisdom and threw one last “Hail Mary” pass entitled the “American Jobs Act,” which is more of an act of desperation than a legitimate jobs bill. What he hopes to do is paint a new image of himself, “Obama v2.0,” representing the voice of reason and the last champion of the downtrodden. Realizing he can no longer win in Congress, he has drawn a line in the sand and is rallying the proletariat to fight the bourgeoisie, a class struggle no matter how you look at it.

The president’s version of the American Jobs Act is just a “stimulus” package in sheep’s clothing. Time and again he calls upon the rich to pay their “fair share” of taxes. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, millionaires are already paying taxes at a much higher rate than middle-class families (by almost twice the amount, 29.1% to 15%). So what does the president really mean by “fair share”? Does he truly believe the rich are not paying their fair and equitable portion or is he trying to cultivate a naive perception that the rich are greedy and evil? The more I hear him wail for “fair share,” the more I believe he is an anti-capitalist bent on redistributing the wealth of the country, aka Socialism. Consider this, even if the rich doubled the amount of taxes they currently pay, it would not come close to solving our debt crisis. More likely though, they would probably pick up their marbles and move it off shore, along with their businesses.

Although he denies it, the president is relying on class warfare to remain in office. He will say and do just about anything to whip his supporters into a frenzy. He will deny that his poll numbers are down, he will choose his words carefully and insist his policies and positions are mainstream; he will do whatever is necessary regardless of the cost. If anyone has the audacity to challenge him, they will be placed on his enemy’s list called “AttackWatch” and dealt with accordingly.

Regardless if Obama wins or loses in 2012, he will have fractured the country. The divisiveness of the American people is perhaps more pronounced than what we experienced before the Civil War, and we all know what happened there, right?

Mr. President, regardless of how you elect to conduct your final campaign, don’t piss down my back and tell me its raining. I just don’t buy 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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

 
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