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Archive for January, 2012

OBAMACARE & THE SUPREME COURT, A PRIMER

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 31, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

Mark the dates of March 26-28, 2012 on your calendars as we are about to witness one of the most titanic legal struggles in this century, the fight over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as “Obamacare,” which went into effect March 23rd, 2010. Actually, we won’t be able to see much of anything as cameras are not allowed in the Supreme Court proceedings. However, I can assure you it will be extensively covered by the media as this is a major constitutional issue. And you better pay attention as the decisions made here will have long term implications on our country.

In reality, there are three separate cases which will be heard individually, which is somewhat strange as they are all closely related. The stakes for this are high too as it will pit the President and the Democrats, the proponents of the bill, against the Republicans, the bill’s opponents. The outcome will undoubtedly play a role in the outcome of the November elections. Nonetheless, both sides will want to make sure “their people” are present on the bench, both liberal and conservative. Three justices may have to be recused though:

Justice Sonia Sotomayor worked for the president and helped write the legal strategy used for the court challenges. In other words, she is already intimate with how arguments will be refuted by the president’s people.

Justice Elena Kagan is a long-time cheerleader of the bill and served as Solicitor General during the Congressional health care debate.

Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife is an active opponent of the bill but he, himself, has no direct involvement.

Of the three, Sotomayor and Kagan are more intimate with the bill and played an active roll in its passage. Nonetheless, it is doubtful any of the judges will recuse themselves as the stakes are too high.

Representing the president’s side are the departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor, along with their Secretaries, collectively “the government.”

Their opponents are 26 states with Florida at the forefront, private individuals Mary Brown and Kaj Ahlburg, and the National Federation of Independent Business (“NFIB”). Both Ahlburg and Brown are fighting for the right to remain uninsured.

The three cases include:

To be argued March 26-27 –
Department of Health and Human Services, et al. vs. the State of Florida, et al. (11-398)

Basically, the government is trying to appeal a district court’s ruling that the individual mandate (to purchase insurance) is unconstitutional and that it cannot be singularly severed from the act.

To be argued on March 28th –
National Federation of Independent Business, et al. vs. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. (11-393)

Is intended to reverse the Eleventh Circuit’s judgment on the severability issue where they concluded the individual mandate can be severed from the remainder of the act.

The State of Florida, et al. vs. the Department of Health and Human Services, et al. (11-400)

First, questioning Congress’s authority to expand the eligibility for Medicaid of individuals up to 133% above the poverty level; Second, questioning the constitutionality of establishing penalties for large employers that do not offer adequate health insurance coverage to full-time employees, and; Third, whether other provisions of the Act could be severed from the Act’s minimum coverage provision if that provision were found to be unconstitutional.

In a nutshell, the case needs to answer the following questions:

1. Does the Commerce Clause (Article I Section 8 Clause 3 of the Constitution) grant Congress the power to require individuals to maintain a minimum level of health insurance or pay a tax penalty?

2. Did Congress exceed its enumerated powers and violate principles of federalism when it pressured States into accepting conditions that Congress could not impose directly by threatening to withhold all federal funding under Medicaid, the single largest grant-in-aid program?

3. Is the suit brought by respondents to challenge the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, 2 U.S.C. 7421(a)?

4. Is the individual mandate severable from the ACA?
(Source: Oyez)

My concern is how Obamacare, if sustained, will affect the sheer nature of capitalism by forcing people to purchase products they do not necessarily want. It is also an expression of more federal control over the states by withholding Medicaid. In other words, who should have more authority, the federal government or the states?

Regardless of the decision, it will be a “Win-Win” decision for the Republicans. If the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare, it will be a major defeat for the president and will mean we have to go back to the drawing board. However, if the Supreme Court sustains Obamacare, it will create a major uproar that will likely drive the Democrats out of office. Either way, the Republicans win.

Fasten your seat belts, it is going to be a bumpy ride.

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

THE OFFICE SHRINK – Who fulfills the role in your organization?

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 29, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

Are there any Industrial-Organizational Psychologists out there anymore? After looking over the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the numbers don’t look very promising. Pity; It’s a useful profession aimed at studying human behavior in relation to the work environment and making recommendations for improving productivity. I’m afraid the position has diminished and defaulted to individual managers who are not properly trained to be office shrinks.

I am not such a psychologist by training but I have an appreciation of the work involved and understand the fundamentals. Bottom-line, the Office Shrink considers such things as worker intelligence level, motivation and attitude towards their job. From these observations, the office shrink will formulate a style of management, either autocratic or allow more worker freedom and participation in the decision making process. See “The Three Theories of Management” (X, Y and Z) in my PAPER.

Whether you are looking at your workers collectively or individually, these analysis tips will help. Perhaps the best place to start is to analyze in-house Employee Evaluation Forms which, in theory, should be performed on a regular basis. Here is a SAMPLE. Where such forms do not exist, the Office Shrink will be forced to evaluate workers based on nothing more than interviews and personal observations.

For each individual, the Office Shrink needs to consider:

Intelligence:
– What formal education does the worker have and what were his/her grades?
– What training certificates does the worker possess?
– What is the skill set of the worker?
– What is the IQ of the worker?
– What is the level of the worker’s intellectual curiosity? Is he/she apathetic or do they ask questions, read trade related publications, participate in groups, volunteer to help, etc.?

What motivates the worker?
– Job security?
– Money?
– Recognition/praise?
– Special attention?
– Personal/professional integrity?
– Other

How does worker respond to:
– Criticism (Good/Bad)
– Praise (Good/Bad)
– What are the “likes” of the worker, incl. hobbies (develop a listing)
– What are the “dislikes” of the worker, incl. hobbies (develop a listing)

Senses; How acute are the senses of the worker (sharp/dull)? Such analysis may provide some insight in adjusting the physical environment.
– Sight
– Sound
– Smell
– Touch (incl. sense of temperature)
– Taste
– 6th senses – intuitiveness, reaction to clutter, etc.

Attitude about job:
– Professional vs. ambivalent vs. wishes he/she were elsewhere.
– Output – Very industrious vs. minimum effort vs. sub-par performance.
– Discipline – Consider work space, personal appearance, and approach to work; Clean, organized, methodical, punctual versus sloppy, tardy, many errors in workmanship.

Socialization skills:
– Communications skills – communicates well? (oral and written)
– Interpersonal relationships – Extroverted versus introverted.
– Courtesy – refined versus crude

From this analysis, the Office Shrink will understand a few things; first, the personality types in his work force (A, B, C, and D); (see “Personality Types”). More importantly, the shrink will form an opinion on the workers collectively in terms of their capabilities and note patterns of personality traits. From this, the shrink will determine two things: a suitable approach to management and how to manipulate the Corporate Culture to suit his needs.

If the Office Shrink perceives the workers as people possessing low intelligence and motivation, most likely the shrink will recommend more supervision until the problem is rectified (aka, “micromanagement”). However, if the workers are perceived as intelligent, take initiative, and produce superior results, he will be more inclined to recommend worker freedom and empowerment.

The Office Shrink may also recommend modifications to the corporate culture, such as dress, protocol, ethics, office layout, ergonomics, paint and lighting, possibly even adjustments to sound and smell which may affect the focus of workers.

As I said, I have considerable respect for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists. In the absence of such a person, the manager must assume the role. Unfortunately, without proper training the manager makes decisions based on his rudimentary perceptions of the situation. The smart manager though has no problem playing the role of Office Shrink. With a little education and/or consulting assistance he can take charge of his area of responsibility and run it like a fine watch.

For more information on these management concepts, see my e-book entitled,
“THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! – Empowering Managers in today’s Corporate Culture” If you also need consulting assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

THE POLITICIAN IN ME

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 26, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

I’ve never been good at politics and I believe it is due to the nature of my job which is to tell people what is wrong with their systems and management. I’m paid to be brutally frank with companies which is not exactly an endearing trait. My job is to tell them the whole truth, not just what they want to hear. I’m polite and professional in how I present the facts, but I am certainly not a politician. I cannot afford to be. No doubt I would flop if I were to run for public office, even if it was for nothing but dog catcher. I would likely say something matter-of-factly and thereby step on the toes of someone in the process, regardless of how right I was.

As this is a major election year, we’ll be asked to vote for president, senators, congressmen, governors, assemblymen, mayors, commissioners, etc. Frankly, I don’t trust any of them, regardless of their political party, as I believe such people have sold their soul to the devil in order to be elected. This is the problem with government today, nobody trusts the politicians. They say one thing, then do something else. We simply do not know what to believe regarding these people, nor do we know what they’ll do until they’ve been elected into office which is obviously too late. To me, this is indicative of how preposterous our electoral process is and why we need to enact some serious campaign reform, maybe even a whole hysterectomy.

Another reason I would make a lousy politician is because I know how to say “No.” You’re a great guy if you say “Yes,” but a real schmuck if you say “No.” People only want to hear “Yes” regardless of the issue, which has been one of our great problems over the years whereby politicians promise voters the world without any idea of how to pay for it. I’ve made more enemies as a result of saying “No” than anything else I may have said. Recognizing the many problems we have with the national debt, budget, and deficit, I would actually like to hear “No” more often than “Yes” for awhile.

When you have enemies, you have to develop some rather thick skin as they will try to undermine your every move, more out of spitefulness than anything else. Fortunately, I have never been concerned with being in a popularity contest; I would rather be at peace with my convictions than popular. You may not like what I have to say about an issue, but you always know where I stand. I also try to be objective, honest, and play fair; three characteristics which dooms me as a politician. Then again, maybe we need more people who are less inclined to bend the rules and more concerned with getting the job done.

Thank God I was never infected with the political bug. I like being able to look at myself in the mirror without fear of blushing.

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

THE OBAMA BLAME GAME

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 24, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

Have you ever seen a guy in an office who couldn’t complete a project even if his life depended on it, regardless of the amount of time afforded him? You know the type, an arm chair quarterback who is quick to take credit when the opportunity presents itself and blames others when things go awry. Such a person’s management style is perhaps best described as reactive as opposed to proactive. The truth is, everybody knows he is in over his head and grows tired of his excuses. Such is Barrack Obama who is simply floundering as president. To listen to his side of the story, he would have us believe he had nothing to do with the problems of the economy, the national debt, unemployment, the growing powder keg in the Middle East, etc. Not only does he consider himself blameless, but goes so far as to portray himself as the victim of the work of others.

Obama began his term blaming George W. Bush for all the problems of the world, a clever strategy which helped get him elected. Interestingly though, he is still blaming Bush after three years in office. The most popular catchphrase associated with his first term is, of course, “It is Bush’s fault.” You’ll notice he still uses the present tense, not “WAS”, but “IS.” Bush became the scapegoat for everything that ocurred not only during his term of office, but even for events associated with the Obama administration, which included blaming Bush for the Solyndra scandal. Huh?

As the president begins to posture for his reelection, the reference to Bush is slowly being minimized and replaced by blaming the Republican Congress which is vilified as the cause of the national debt, the economy, unemployment, his low popularity ratings, not to mention the delays to his various vacations. As the head of his party, he has somehow lost sight of the fact that it takes two to tango; instead of finding ways to overcoming impasses, as all of his predecessors had to do, he is content to draw a line in the sand and dare the Congress to step across it.

The president has also blamed a lot of other people along the way:

* He blamed the rich for making people poor. (Huh?)

* He blamed automation for unemployment. (Huh?)

* He even blamed the 2011 Texas Wildfires on Global Warming. (Huh?)

* And he doubtless blames Israel for the problems in the Middle East.

Interestingly, all of his blames are designed for political gain. If you say them with enough repetition and conviction, people gullibly begin to believe them and are able to recite them chapter and verse. It’s what is commonly known as drinking the O-Kool Aid. Regardless of the data opposing him, his supporters fervently blame others for the president’s weaknesses.

Mr. Obama may be a fine speaker but he has yet to prove his leadership capabilities which is basically the difference between a talker and a doer. His lack of experience as an administrator has become glaringly obvious. In management terms, he is a prime example of the Peter Principle whereby someone has risen above his level of competency.

Just remember, his mantra going into the elections will be, “Deny everything, blame everyone else.” Heck, an incompetent manager couldn’t say it better.

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE MYTH OF THE PAPERLESS WORLD

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 22, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

For a society bent on becoming paperless I find it rather amusing that sales at corporate giant International Paper Company actually increased from $21.9B in 2006 to $25.1B in 2010. It doesn’t sound like the demand for paper is diminishing, does it? In reality, printing is being offset from one party to another. To illustrate, the many community and civic newsletters which used to clog our mail boxes have been replaced by PDF files which are commonly e-mailed or downloaded from web sites. People print them in part or in full as opposed to the publisher, thereby transferring publication costs to the consumer.

Financial institutions were quick to jump on the bandwagon. Most, if not all banks in this country have abandoned printing and mailing monthly statements thereby forcing the consumer to print them instead. Reluctantly, they’ll still mail you statements if you must have them, but they desperately want to get out of the printing business. The government has followed suit. Whereas taxpayers used to get their IRS booklets and forms through the mail, now the consumer is expected to download and print it themselves. No wonder the United States Postal Service is going broke, there is nothing to mail anymore.

Our company has maintained a post office box for a number of years now. In the past we could count on receiving at least 100 pounds of junk mail annually, but this has dropped off substantially. Now we barely get a post card. Instead, our e-mail queues are overloaded with spam despite the blockers we have in place. If we find an ad for something we are interested in, we’ll dutifully print it (not the retailer).

Perhaps the two biggest areas of e-paper is in travel reservations and retail sales. For example, airline tickets in the past were printed and mailed to you. Now, the consumer is expected to print them instead. The same amount of paper is produced, only you are paying for it. Retail sales are no different; the consumer must print a receipt if he is so inclined, not the vendor.

When you walk into an office supply store, one of the biggest items commanding your attention are the skids of stock paper available to you. Somebody must be buying all this paper, and most likely it is the consumer as opposed to businesses who have it delivered directly to their offices. Aside from paper sales, the sale of printers, cartridges, and paper shredders are also doing well, thereby indicating a robust print industry is still alive and well.

The transition of printing costs directly impacts your cost of living. Sure, paper is relatively cheap, but the cost of printers and ink cartridges add up over a year’s time. Going paperless may reduce the costs of the organization producing the documents, but it certainly adds to the cost of the consumer, such is the price of progress I guess. No wonder sales at International Paper is increasing unabated. Maybe the folks at Dunder-Miflin are on to something after all (from NBC’s “The Office”).

So, is the world really going paperless? Ask International Paper.

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Computers, Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

WHY TIM TEBOW BOTHERS PEOPLE

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 19, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

This season, Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos electrified the National Football League (NFL) more than any other player in the sport, not because of his athletic prowess, but because of his spirituality. He is somewhat of an enigma to sports analysts. Despite the claims of his critics he lacks the proper skills to lead an NFL team to victory, he somehow found a way to win and propel the Broncos into the playoffs. “Whoda-thunk-it!”

Tebow is from Florida where interstate sports rivalries are legendary, particularly between Miami, FSU, and the University of Florida (UF) which is where he went to school. While at UF, he somehow managed to bedevil the other Florida teams and in the process earned a Heisman Trophy and help win a couple of National Championships. He didn’t do it with swagger either but as a team leader who was known to be rather pious in his religious beliefs. His personage and track record resulted in the scorn and envy of his opponents. Frankly, he seemed “too good to be true” and became the man you loved to hate if you were not on his side. Such anger has carried forward with him to the NFL where he has more than his share of detractors, some even going so far as to call him an “Anti-Christ” for his praying on the sidelines.

I can think of a lot of reasons for hating an opponent, but praying shouldn’t be one of them. Some resent him because he appears to be more spiritually connected to his Lord than others, a characteristic that seems to give him an edge. Others openly mock his spirituality. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with it, nor do a lot of football fans who can relate to his beliefs. More than anything, I think Tebow’s praying on the sidelines is considered a violation of political correctness. Christianity has been in retreat in this country over the last few decades. Thanks to a long line of litigation, we are now overtly conscious of the separation of church and state. The PC police, as embodied by the media and government, have worked overtime to shun religion, even going so far as to poke fun at anyone who openly proclaims their allegiance to Jesus Christ. Heck, we don’t even say “Merry Christmas” anymore out of fear of antagonizing someone.

So, along comes Tim Tebow, a well recognized athlete who openly embraces his Christian faith. Such religious athletes who gain notoriety, not just for their athletic abilities but their spirituality, are few and far between. Tebow is a modern day Eric Liddell, the “Flying Scotsman,” a devout Christian Olympian who in 1924 refused to run in a heat on a Sunday (the Christian Sabbath) and thereby withdrew from a 100-metres race, his best event (as depicted in the 1981 film “Chariots of Fire”). Although some were upset Liddell refused to run, many more applauded his adherance to his religious beliefs.

Unlike Liddell, Tebow plays on Sundays but he competes with the same religious ferver that the Flying Scotsman enjoyed. Some people are offended when Tebow quietly prays on the sidelines by himself, not out of resentment for Christianity but because political correctness tells us not to accept such behavior and demean the person instead. The media and football world has to be careful though, many Christian athletes and fans are rallying around Tebow and are beginning to emulate his style of praying, now called “Tebowing.”

Tebow begs the question, where do we find our strength to compete? Some find it in conviction of character and experience, others find it in vicious competition where you must win at all costs, even if it means cheating. For people like Tebow and Liddell, it is in their Christian beliefs which promotes morality. Maybe therein rests the problem, that people are not willing to accept fair gamesmanship and honest competition anymore. Fortunately, there are some people who believe in such archaic concepts. If Tebow can find strength on the sidelines by quietly praying to the Lord, I will not fault him or hold him in contempt. I may actually admire him instead.

“Those who honor me I will honor.” – 1 Samuel 2:30

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Morality, Religion | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

JACKIE MASON IS RIGHT

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 17, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

I have had the pleasure of seeing many different comedians over the years, including luminaries such as Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Smothers Brothers, Rodney Dangerfield, David Brenner, and George Carlin. One name that has been on my list to see for some time now is Jackie Mason. I remember watching him on the Ed Sullivan show years ago, but I never had the opportunity to see him in person until he recently came to perform in Clearwater, Florida. Frankly, I thought he had retired years ago as I assumed he was getting on in years. He may not be a spring chicken anymore but Jackie Mason is still very much alive and well. I saw no sign of fatigue and his voice and delivery were still solid.

I realize a lot of Mason’s jokes were part of his standard repertoire, but I was somewhat surprised when he turned to politics, particularly when he turned right. In most cases, when comedians weave political humor into their act, they try to keep it balanced, for every Democrat joke, there is normally a Republican joke and vice-versa. If anything, comedians tend to malign conservatives and promote the liberal agenda instead. I was surprised when I found Mason to be just the opposite. Instead of jokes about George W. Bush and the GOP, we were treated to a flurry of jokes poking fun at notable Democrats such as President Obama, the Clintons, Al Sharpton, and others. After telling Democratic jokes for awhile, the audience naturally waited in anticipation for Mason to take a swing at the Republicans. It never materialized and he bore in deeper on the left. I could tell some people in the audience were becoming squeamish by the bashing of Democrats, but Mason wouldn’t relent. Although his remarks were made in jest, you sensed he was actually preaching to the audience.

To make his points, Mason would often use simple analogies which anyone could relate to. For example, to contrast the difference between the extensive experience of John McCain and candidate Obama’s lack thereof in the 2008 election, he asked the audience what kind of dentist they would use to pull a tooth, someone with experience or someone who presumed to have good judgement, “Maybe that tooth should come out, maybe not.” He also questioned the credentials of Hillary Clinton for which her highest accomplishment thus far was as wife of the president; in this instance, Mason rhetorically asked if an airline pilot became ill, should they ask his wife to fly the plane?

Mason fearlessly talked about race relations, a touchy subject many people avoid like the plague, and turned it into a comical subject. He also has little patience for political correctness and was unafraid to poke fun at it, and perhaps that is his genius, to cut through the baloney and question the taboos of the day. As for me, I appreciated his comments on capitalism, that the individual has the right to try to succeed in any endeavor of his choosing, but he must be mindful that he also has the right to fail. I couldn’t have said this better myself.

It may have taken me many years to see Jackie Mason in person, but better late than never. I appreciated his unapologetic style of humor. He had a lot to say and made his points with finesse. Hopefully, the audience took to heart what he was telling them. I know I did.

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

METHODOLOGIES & THE DANCE OF THE FAIRIES

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 15, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

Over the years I have had numerous friends and family ask me what exactly our company did; it seemed rather mysterious to them and perhaps still does. Flippantly I tell people we are in the “methodology business” which is the truth but a bit unsettling to people as most only have a vague idea what this means. In a nutshell, a methodology represents a series of steps in a project specifying Who is to perform What, When, Where, Why, and How (aka, “5W+H”), from start to finish. Perhaps the best way to think of a methodology is as a roadmap or an assembly line where a product is developed over a series of work stations. The operators at each station perform specific tasks on the product until it is ready to progress to the next work station and, ultimately, completion. Our company’s particular forte is in the areas of standard and reusable methodologies for Systems Design, Data Base Design, and Business Planning. Obviously, there are many other methodologies for different types of work effort, such as architectural, manufacturing, engineering, accounting, and other industries. Whether you are constructing a building, manufacturing an automobile, or designing a bridge, there are certain stages of work that must be completed in a specific sequence. In project management terms, a methodology is commonly referred to as a work breakdown structure (WBS) with precedent relationships denoting the sequence of steps in a project.

Typically, a methodology consists of a series of phases of work which can be subdivided into activities and tasks. As one phase is completed, the project progresses to one or more other phases thereby allowing parallelism. Not all projects are executed sequentially, some may follow parallel paths where work is performed concurrently. Regardless of their construction, methodologies should be documented in order to provide guidance in their execution and to provide a convenient means to verify the methodology is being adhered to. To this end, the International Standards Organization (ISO) devised the ISO 9000 series of standards back in the 1980’s which was intended for a company to document all of its methodologies which, in theory, is intended to improve quality. Through the documentation, people can verify the various project steps were executed properly. Although this is certainly helpful, it cannot substantiate how well a product was built, only that it was built in accordance to a methodology. Even if the methodology is superbly documented, a flaw in the actual construction of the methodology itself will prove fatal to any project using it. This little oversight is the Achilles Heel of the ISO standards.

Not all methodologies are created equal. Most are written as an inordinate series of books and worksheets. Regardless of how well they are written, if workers become more obsessed with completing forms and checklists, they tend to lose sight of the product they are building. We refer to this phenomenon as “The Dance of the Fairies,” whereby developers are more concerned with following paperwork than in producing a quality product. Whenever you follow a methodology blindly you tend to overlook the work product you are trying to produce.

In devising any methodology, I ask customers to think of the work product to be produced and base the construction of the methodology on it. For example, if we are to build a major product, like an automobile, I instruct them to break the product into separate assemblies of work, e.g., body, drive train, engine, etc. By doing so, it is easy to define what phases may be executed sequentially or in parallel. In other words, the methodology maps the product structure, not just some random series of activities. When defining any step in the methodology, be it a phase, activity or task, it is important to define the deliverable associated with each step. By this I mean defining a tangible result which can be reviewed for acceptance; it has either been done or it hasn’t which is one of the earmarks of an ISO standard. Defining steps without a tangible result is pure folly. Further, for each deliverable, acceptance criteria should be provided to give reviewers a basis for performing a proper examination. Without an acceptance criteria the reviewer has no way of knowing how well the deliverable was built (only that it has or has not been done).

To me personally, a methodology is a state of mind, not an extensive library of documentation. Instead, it is what all good craftsmen know about in terms of building any product; that there is a right way and a wrong way for building something. Such craftsmen understand there is a calculated risk for overlooking or cheating a step in the methodology, risks that jeopardize the quality of the product. They also understand a documented methodology is helpful for providing insight in how to build something, but it is not a guarantee you will produce superior results. Quality must be built into the product during design, during the methodology, not inspected in afterwards, and this cannot be done by blindly following “The Dance of the Fairies.”

No matter how I try to explain it though, I find the concept of methodology is still somewhat nebulous to most people which is why I normally describe myself as a “management consultant” or someone involved with the I.T. industry. I still get blank looks but it seems to sink in better than “methodologist.” Perhaps this is why I envy farmers, bankers, butchers; at least people have an idea what they do for a living.

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

THE SWEETENING OF AMERICA

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 12, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

I find as I grow older I tend to gravitate towards simpler things. Take coffee for instance, I’ve always found pleasure in a simple cup of black coffee. I honestly believe I can distinguish a good cup of coffee from a bad one simply by drinking it black. Adding sugar, cream, and any other additive only masks the flavor. Then again, the bitter taste of the coffee bean is what a lot of people try to avoid, preferring instead a variety of sweeteners transforming it into more of a ice cream sundae as opposed to a hot cup of coffee in the traditional sense. Now coffee comes in a myriad of flavors including vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, and peppermint. Its whipped with cream, sprinkled with chocolate, and chilled with ice. Perhaps the best way to describe coffee’s transformation is from the “the rocket fuel of business” to Bosco.

Coffee is not alone in this regard. I recently visited a local liquor store to buy libations for the holidays. I don’t normally drink vodka but I was surprised by the variety of flavors now available including lemon, lime, apple, marmalade, raspberry, apple strudel, and dozens of other flavors (What, no kumquat?). I also noticed various liqueurs now come in an assortment of flavors as opposed to just one, especially the coffee flavored ones. I took most of this in stride as I typically don’t imbibe such drinks. However, as a whiskey aficionado, I was stunned to see apple and cinnamon flavored whiskeys creeping onto the shelves. Only then did I realize whiskey was also beginning to undergo a sweetness transformation.

I suppose this movement to sweeter alcoholic beverages was to be expected as the kids who savored sweetened fruit drinks and power ades years ago have grown up and cannot tolerate some of the bitter flavors of adult beverages. Nor will this be a passing fancy as young Americans have been conditioned to crave soft and sweetened drinks. Take iced tea for instance, whereas older people tend to enjoy unsweetened tea, younger people cannot palate it without some sort of sugary substance. Also consider Americans fascination with sweetened coffee drinks is directly rooted in chocolate. It kind of makes you wonder if we are really enjoying the flavor of such drinks or are we simply hooked on chocolate and sugar. I suspect the latter.

As for me, I’m a single malt scotch man who appreciates the simplicity of a good glass of whiskey, particularly when coupled with a fine cigar. I do not need to sweeten it up, just quietly sip and enjoy it at the end of a busy day. I enjoy its full bodied flavor with a touch of smokiness from its casks. Like I’ve always said, it’s the little things in life that make it enjoyable, such as a black cup of coffee, unsweetened iced tea, and a glass of single malt scotch. The day I am given a glass of tutti frutti whiskey is probably the same day I’ll stop drinking it.

I do not need to put in additives to enjoy such beverages, just simply to appreciate them for what they are and how our forefathers designed them. Like I said, keep it simple and enjoy the ride.

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

OBAMA’S TRACK RECORD – BY THE NUMBERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 10, 2012

Last year I described a general strategy for defeating the president in the next election (see “How to Defeat Obama in 2012”). Key to this was forcing the president to run on his record which can hardly be considered stellar. As the campaign unfolds, Republican contenders have somehow forgotten this and are content to snipe at each other instead. In the meantime, the president revels in the GOP squabbling as he remains out of the limelight and has even gone so far as to tout his record as president. I do not believe the president has anything to brag about though and his record has to be brought back into perspective. To do so, I researched the data from several key areas and compared the president’s record thus far to his predecessor, George W. Bush, who Obama openly vilified during his campaign as the cause of the country’s woes. Keep in mind, the data contained herein contains Mr. Bush’s full eight year term of office, while Mr. Obama’s reflects no more than two or three years of service.

Unemployment

Bush (8 years): 3.8% low to 7.3% high
Obama (3 years): 7.8% low to 10.1% high (currently annual average is 8.9%)
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

“Back in early January, when Barack Obama was still President-elect, two of his chief economic advisers (Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein) — leading proponents of a stimulus bill — predicted that the passage of a large economic-aid package would boost the economy and keep the unemployment rate below 8%. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.”
– Stephen Gandel, TIME Magazine, July 14, 2009

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Bush (8 years): $9.9T to $14.3T
Obama (3 years): $13.9T to $14.5T (as of 2010)
Source: Measuring Worth

“Like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning.”
– President Barack Obama, February 3, 2010

Government Revenues (including taxes)

Bush (8 years): $3.6T to $4.7T
Obama (3 years): $3.6T to $4.8T ($5.25T projected for 2012)
Source: USGovernmentRevenue.com

“We’ve got to make sure that people who have more money help the people who have less money.”
– candidate Barack Obama, November 2007

Spending

Bush (8 years): $3.24T to $5.34T
Obama (3 years): $5.94T to $6.05T ($6.22T projected for 2012)
Source: USGovernmentSpending.com

“Now, what that would require would be some shared sacrifice and a balanced approach that says we’re going to make significant cuts in domestic spending. And I have already said I am willing to take down domestic spending to the lowest percentage of our overall economy since Dwight Eisenhower.”
– President Barack Obama, July 15th, 2011

Federal Deficit

Bush (8 years): $-236.2B to $458.5B
Obama (3 years): $1.4T to $1.2T ($1.1T projected for 2012)
Source: USGovernmentSpending.com

“When we continue to spend as if deficits don’t matter, that means our kids and our grandkids may windup saddled with debt that they’ll never be able to repay.”
– President Barack Obama, July 22nd, 2010

Federal Debt

Bush (8 years): rose from $5.6T to $9.9T
Obama (3 years): rose from $11.8T to $15.1T ($16.65T projected for 2012)
Source: USGovernmentRevenue.com

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies… Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”
– Senator Barack Obama, March 20th, 2006

Federal Government size (employees)

Bush (8 years): 4.1M to 4.2M
Obama (3 years): 4.4M (data available through 2010 only)
Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management

“Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the House Small Business Committee on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 that the Obama administration believes taxes on small business must increase so the administration does not have to “shrink the overall size of government programs.”
The Family Foundation, June 2011

When you factor in the enormous potential economic impact of Obamacare, assuming it survives the Supreme Court, the failed stimulus packages and bailouts, the additional bureaucracy of his czars and other questionable appointments, etc., you have to wonder what the president has to crow about.

Not surprising, the media seems to be more than willing to divert the public’s attention from the president’s record to the foibles of the GOP candidates. I realize Americans have short attention spans, but surely they cannot believe things are any better today than three short years ago when he took the reins.

“YES WE CAN!” – Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan. Did they? The American voters will decide on November 6th.

Register to vote.

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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