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Archive for February, 2013

AN ASEXUAL SOCIETY?

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 27, 2013

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– Which would you chose, better wages or a better job title?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Last month, the Department of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff announced women soldiers would be allowed to be placed in combat situations, a somewhat controversial change in policy. I’m not sure how this will play in Poughkeepsie or just about anywhere else. I do not doubt the tenacity and determination of women soldiers, but their use in the infantry isn’t exactly being greeted with a lot of enthusiasm. This is another area where people are trying to press the envelope, perhaps for the wrong reasons, namely sexual equality.

Hollywood may be following suit. There is now talk about merging the best “actor” and “actress” categories into a single gender neutral grouping. Some people welcome this merger, others see it as a threat to women, such as Sally Field who recently claimed such a merger would prove disastrous to recognizing women. Personally, I’m old-school and still make the distinction of “actors” and “actresses.” Referring to a woman as an “actor” just seems silly regardless of political correctness.

I’m a little surprised the gender neutral people are not advocating a similar position in sports. After all, if women and men can now face each other on the battlefield, why not the playing fields? The answer is rather obvious, the physical differences between the sexes. I really do not think it would be fair to permit a woman to face the offensive line of the Green Bay Packers, or go one-on-one against the Boston Celtics, or hockey or baseball. I’m certainly not trying to provoke a Bobby Riggs challenge to women in these sports, only to recognize the obvious physical differences. In boxing and wrestling there are “classes” dividing the competition, such as flyweight versus heavyweight, which observes physical differences in order to provide fair competition. I do not see the separation of men and women in athletics as being any different.

There are obviously things women can do better than men. Going back to acting, there are scenes women can portray more convincingly than men, such as sorrow, affection, and concern. Meryl Streep is often recognized for the variety of roles she has played. There have been many others over the years as well, such as Katharine Hepburn, Betty Davis, Myrna Loy, Patricia Neal, and many others, who could do scenes that men couldn’t possible hope to replicate. A flash of their eyes alone can speak volumes. Conversely, there are scenes men can do more convincingly than women. So why not celebrate our differences as opposed to merging them into something indiscernible?

Gender neutrality is always a touchy subject. However, this is less about equality among the sexes and more about what is practical and fair. There will always be people though who want to press this issue to the sublime. Frankly, some things should just be left alone.

I wonder how the DOD will react when women soldiers are captured in combat. Do they believe our enemies will observe their human rights? My guess is they will be treated more brutally than men. Maybe this is the type of equality the gender neutral proponents are looking for. You cannot help but wonder if this new policy will hurt or help our effectiveness in combat situations. I guess we are about to find out.

No, I do not believe in an asexual society. We should celebrate our differences as opposed to trying to merge us into one. And, Yes, I will continue to use the word, “actress.”

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE GREAT COMMUNICATORS – It’s not just what they said, but how they connected with you.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

HUNG UP ON JOB TITLES

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 25, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Which would you chose, better wages or a better job title?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Not long ago I went to the drive-thru window at our local bank to make a deposit. I was dutifully greeted by the attendent who I had chatted with before on numerous occasions. On this particular visit, the attendant, who I judged to be in her mid-twenties, was delighted to inform me she was now the “Head Cashier.” I congratulated her on the promotion, finished my business and departed. Over the next several weeks though, whenever I visited the bank, she made a point of letting me know she was the “Head Cashier” with an air of boasting about her. I presume she did this with all of her customers, that I wasn’t just being singled out. She had even gone so far as to etch a new name plate with her title boldly printed on it. It was important to her that the bank’s customers recognize her authority. Frankly, I just wanted to process my transactions and go about my business. Although I initially commended her on the promotion, I really couldn’t have cared less.

I find job titles in business to be rather amusing. Originally, a job title was intended to denote the type of work a person performed, e.g., doctor, baker, banker, etc. Over the years though some rather avant-garde job titles have emerged which are intended to impress others. For example, we use “Software Engineer” as opposed to a mere “Programmer”; “Human Resources” as opposed to “Personnel”; “Branding” as opposed to “Advertising,” a “Mixologist” as opposed to a “Bartender,” etc. For some reason, the Information Technology field has more than its share of cryptic titles, for example: “New Metrics Analyst,” “Content Engineer,” “E-mail Channel Specialist,” “Metamediary CEO,” “Chief Knowledge Officer,” and “Chief Internet Officer.” I even ran into one entitled, “Webmistress Extraordinaire” (I think this last one is related to “Domestic Goddess”).

If you can’t invent a fancy new title, simply modify an old one by delineating the level of skill or experience required to perform it, such as junior or senior. For example, banks make extensive use of “Vice Presidents,” a much coveted title. Yet there are many permeations of it, such as Junior VP, Associate VP, Senior VP, Managing VP, Executive VP, etc. Banks make extensive use of such titles as opposed to paying a decent salary. Nonetheless, some people believe meaningless job titles are more important and will help them secure a better job in the future.

Even in nonprofit organizations, titles become rather important to people. I have seen people boast they were President of their Homeowner Association, VP of Membership for clubs, and Secretary or Treasurer of other groups. They relish such titles as it denotes they are a person of authority and should be taken seriously. Now I will admit such titles are important to define areas of responsibility, but there is little point in having such titles if you do not perform anything in return. Such meaningless job titles ultimately demean the office you hold and the organization you are supposed to be serving.

As for me, job titles tell me a lot about a person’s ego and his/her insecurities, particularly if they boast about it, such as the “Head Cashier.” In reality, most people are less interested in the job title you hold and more interested if you can perform the work advertised.

Executives couldn’t care less about job titles. To illustrate, I remember an instance where an Information Technology Manager was given an assignment to complete an important high profile project for his company. Needing programmers for the project, he sought permission from the executive committee to hire some more. In the end, the committee granted his request and told him he could hire as many people as he wanted, and give them any job title they desired, but when the project was completed, fire them all. It might have seemed cruel, but at least they got an impressive job title to post on their resumes.

As for me, if the choice is between a fancy new job title or better wages, you can keep the job title. I know who I am, what I am capable of doing, and am certainly not hung up on job titles.

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
AN ASEXUAL SOCIETY? – Why are we trying to merge the sexes; what does this accomplish?


Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 14 Comments »

PUTTING SERVICE BACK INTO “SERVICE STATION”

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 22, 2013

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Will it play in today’s world?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Many years ago, I worked at a Standard Oil service station in Ohio while still a young man (back when it was called “SOHIO” for those who remember). I call it a “service station” as opposed to a “gas station” simply because it made more money on service as opposed to gasoline, which was just 35 cents/gallon at the time. As an attendant, I would change tires, check/recharge batteries, and perform grease, oil and filter jobs. Our senior guys would perform the tune-ups and balance tires, which was somewhat of an art back then. We also pumped a lot of gas, and in the process would check under the customer’s hood to see if the engine was working fine, and all the fluids were at proper levels. By doing so, we sold a lot of supplemental products, be it wiper fluid, oil, radiator antifreeze/coolant or maybe even suggest new tires. It was not our intent to gouge the customer but to offer friendly service to the people in our area. Not surprising, we got to know our clientele rather well and developed strong relationships. So much so, they came to trust our advice; if we said they needed oil, they bought it with no questions asked. If everything looked fine, we told them so. I must have personally checked hundreds of tires, batteries, dip sticks, air filters, and cleaned lots of windows, not to mention pump a lot of gas. The station’s owner recognized that service was just plain good business and ran a professional station, including uniforms. It was very important that at least one attendant be visible near the pumps at all times in order to encourage business and, believe it or not, this worked remarkably well. I have retold this story ad nauseum to my children over the years, to the point where they now automatically roll their eyes whenever I mention the word, “SOHIO.”

It occurred to me though that most people today do not know what a service station is truly like. Since the 1980’s, the American public has learned to pump their own gasoline in order to save money. After all, service station attendants costs money. On a lark, I struck up a conversation with a friend who owns a modest independent gas station and asked if it would be okay for me to dress up as an attendant and work at his station for a day. This was to be an experiment and I expected nothing in return, other than to write about it. My friend was skeptical about the stunt, but as he was also interested in seeing the reaction from the public, he gave me his blessing to proceed.

On the day of the experiment, I reported for duty wearing a light blue short-sleeve shirt, navy blue trousers, a navy blue baseball cap, and some very durable rubber soled dark shoes as I knew I would be on my feet a long time. I also kept a red rag in my back pocket to check oil, and my old reliable tire gauge which I used back when I was a gas jockey. Basically, I was trying to replicate the old SOHIO look. It was clean, comfortable, and hopefully looked professional.

My friend’s station was a small one with only a single island containing six pumps; five for gas, and one for Diesel fuel. Gas was considered nothing more than a vehicle to draw people inside the station to buy soft drinks, beer, tobacco, lottery tickets, milk, and other food basics. He also sold automotive fluids and window wipers. He had only one bay next to his station to service cars, but this was seldom used.

I began promptly at 6:30am to get a head start on morning commuters. My first customer was a man with a pickup truck and trailer for his lawn mowing business who wanted to “tank up” for the day. As I approached him, I greeted him with a friendly, “Good morning,” as he was stepping out of his vehicle. “Fill it up for you?” I asked.

The man was startled at my approach. The sun wasn’t quite up yet and he looked at me suspiciously. I assured him I was there to simply service his truck. When he realized I posed no threat, he began to warm up to my advances, and asked for me to fill up both the truck and gas tanks for his mowers.

“No problem,” I replied, “Why don’t you go inside and have a cup of coffee while I finish this for you. Do you want me to check under the hood for you?”

“Ah, sure. Why not?” and he went inside for coffee, still a bit perplexed.

As I filled the truck, I cleaned his windows and checked under the hood. His oil was good, but he needed a little window washer fluid which I filled up for him. Just as I was finishing his gas tanks, he reemerged from inside the station clutching his coffee.

“You’re all set; I put a little washer fluid in it for you, but your oil and tires look fine. Just pay inside,” and he did.

In total, it took me about five minutes to service the car which I thought was rather good time. I was anxious to process his rig quickly as it was taking up considerable space by the pumps, which was space other cars could use. When he came back out, he tried to hand me a tip, but I told him it wasn’t necessary and I wished him a good day. He drove away happy. Maybe a bit confused, but happy.

No sooner had the truck pulled away when two cars pulled up to the pumps. Again, I dutifully welcomed them, and serviced their cars much to their bewilderment. Like the previous driver, I invited them inside to have some coffee while I finished up. On one of the vehicles I noticed the rubber on the windshield wiper was wearing out, as is particularly common thanks to the sun. I quoted him a price for new wipers and he instructed me to put them on. As the day progressed, I sold a lot of wipers, much to the pleasant surprise of my friend.

I repeated my routine dozens of times in the morning. Time and again, people were hesitant to let me service their car, but were glad to do so when they discovered I posed no threat. In addition to gas, I sold several products for my friend. When I wasn’t busy, I would sweep up around the station to make it look more attractive. By early afternoon, the word had gotten around about the new service attendant in town, and we started to get an influx in business. My friend was surprised as afternoons were normally slow for him.

Older people told me how nice it was to see a service attendant again, and young people thought it was just “cool” for someone to help them at the station. In particular, women appeared to appreciate the service as they didn’t have to deal with a dirty gas pump. I even had an occasion where a young couple stopped by to ask for directions (something I used to answer regularly years ago). In another instance, an older couple asked if I could change the oil and filters in their cars. I said I was a little busy at the moment, but I could have it done within a half hour and suggested in the meantime they go and have lunch at the restaurant next door, which they did. I’m sure the restaurant owner appreciated the business.

I took breaks now and then, but stayed with it until 6:30pm when rush hour abated. Even then, we had people bringing their cars in to see the “service station” they had heard about.

At the end of the day, my feet were sore, but I reviewed the day’s sales with my friend who claimed they were up nearly 30%. In addition to selling more gas, we had also sold more wipers, oil, wiper fluid, radiator fluid, drinks, snacks, and a heck of a lot of coffee. Frankly, he was surprised by the day’s take.

“Can you come back tomorrow?” he asked.

I thanked him for the offer but told him it was a young man’s job to perform (as my feet kept telling me). I suggested he hire a couple of high school students, teach them the ropes, and see what happens, which he did. It may have taken them a while to teach them hospitality and service, but once they caught on, my friend’s station became a fixture in the area and has prospered ever since, all because of an old concept called “service.”

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:  
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
HUNG UP ON JOB TITLES – Which would you chose, better wages or a better job title?


Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Business, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

POLITICAL DEMOGRAPHICS

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 20, 2013

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– True, the president won Florida, but certainly not by a landslide.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Last October, just prior to the presidential election, I made some predictions regarding the demographics of the voting public. More recently, I attended a presentation given by a statistician who waded through the election data in our area. Ultimately, I learned my predictions were correct, but in the process I also discovered several other factors I hadn’t considered.

According to the statistician, the president may have narrowly won Florida, but Republicans made some in-roads when you study the numbers. For example, more Republicans voted than Democrats in Pinellas County. This was in sharp contrast to 2008 where Democrats turned out in force. Not surprising, older people favored Romney, particularly white men. In contrast, younger people favored Obama, particularly women. Aside from the political parties, it was independent voters who carried the day for Obama; 61.4% to 32.28%. Translation: Republicans may have been successful in rallying the party faithful, but did a lousy job selling their message to people outside of their party. One factor the local GOP organizers had to contend with was a liberal media, including the local “Tampa Bay Times.”

Not surprising, southeastern Florida ultimately turned the tide for Obama, predominantly the Latino vote. This means Romney was unable to appeal to such voters, despite the popularity of Senator Rubio from that area. Perhaps if Rubio had been on the ticket as vice president, it might have been another story.

As for me, the most illuminating facts presented by the statistician regarded how votes were cast. There were three variables studied: absentee ballots, early voting, and voting at precincts on election day. Surprisingly, more ballots were cast by absentee as opposed to the other two. Whereas more Democratic voters submitted absentee ballots, more Republicans voted at their precincts on election day, and relatively few voted early. The Republicans may have won at the precincts, but lost simply because the Democrats made a concerted effort to have people vote by absentee ballot.

Plain and simply, the Obama organization ran a better campaign than the Romney team. One of their secrets was the Obama “app” which was used to monitor and track voter interests, thereby giving them the means to determine the hot buttons of the public with a high degree of precision. The Republicans simply had no such “app” and campaigned using older methods.

According to the statistics, I discovered the Florida race was a lot closer than I had heard through the media. True, the president won, but certainly not by a landslide. In fact, the difference was razor thin. Are the Republicans devastated by the defeat? Hardly. If anything, they learned a painful lesson about the tactics required for the next campaign in 2014.

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  PUTTING SERVICE BACK INTO “SERVICE STATION” – Will it play in today’s world?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

DEALING WITH PETTY POLITICS

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 18, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Some alternatives to kissing someone’s ring.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

It seems petty politics is an inherent part of our lives. There is no escaping it. We find it implemented by government bureaucrats, corporate department managers and supervisors, and officers of nonprofit organizations, be they homeowner associations, club sports, religious orders, garden clubs, fraternal organizations, or whatever. In most cases, petty politics emerge over turf wars where people jealously guard the fiefdoms they have built for themselves. Somehow it reminds me of two sentry ants, each desperately guarding the entrance to their ant hill from each other, and both unaware the two ant hills are connected by tunnels underground. Neither realizes they are playing on the same team.

Petty politics comes about when small-minded people have been placed in a position of authority and take pleasure in being able to exercise control over other people who would normally smash them like a bug. They desperately want to prove they are someone of importance and should command respect. And therein lies their weakness: Ego. They want to dominate you, not so much as to fulfill their duties and responsibilities, but primarily because they want to neutralize you as a competitor or as someone who might spoil their plans. Ironically, the more they try to intimidate you, the more they lose respect, not just from you, but by others observing the conflict.

When you are faced with a person practicing petty politics, there are a few options at your disposal:

1. Play their game. This ultimately depends how long this person or yourself will be around. If it is nothing more than a short period of time, it might be more expedient to simply let the other person have his/her way. If the person if going to be there longer though, you may wish to consider other tactics, such as…

2. Challenge their authority. This is a “head on” approach that will naturally result in the creation of an enemy; then again, the person was already proven himself to be an enemy from the outset so it might be worthwhile to conquer this problem now as opposed to running into again in the future. This requires you to question their authority, thereby undermining them. Before you do this though, be sure to research the friends of your adversary as they will likely be called into play if you become a problem. In other words, you will not be just fighting the petty politician, but his friends as well.

3. Perform an end-run around your obstacle, either by way of his superior or another person who can perform the service for you.

4. Offering a bribe sometimes works, be it a small present, gift or some other form of remuneration. Know this though, once you have done so, the petty politician will expect it as a regular diet.

5. Ignore them. This can be the most devastating of the tactics taken. Since the petty politician craves recognition, do not give it to him under any circumstance. Do not say anything good or bad about the person, just ignore him. Simply go about your business as if the other person doesn’t exist. Find alternatives instead. If the person has something you need to fulfill your task, just take it; do not ask permission to use it as the other person certainly will not consent to give it to you. Just find another way to get the job done, but ignore the person completely. It will drive him crazy.

I have found over the years, when it comes to petty politics, you have to fight fire with fire. If you have a petty politician embedded in your organization like an Alabama tick, you can either pacify your antagonist, or yourself. Just remember, bureaucrats exist to impede progress, not expedite it. Consequently, they play dirty. If you plan to combat such a person, be prepared to get as dirty as he is.

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  POLITICAL DEMOGRAPHICS – True, the president won Florida, but certainly not by a landslide.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

 

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

WHAT ARE YOU KEEPING THAT FOR?

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 15, 2013

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Good question. Perhaps it is time to clean house and eliminate the flotsam and jetsam.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Some time ago I wrote a column entitled, “Crud,” which discussed the volume of material we store in our homes. In the article, I made two observations: that crud is seemingly magnetic thereby causing it to attract other crud, and; sooner or later, everything will inevitably end up in the garbage dump. I still believe this to be true. More recently, I stopped by a friend’s house who was endeavoring to clean out his crawl space under his house. Access to it was through a small door outside of the building which required my friend to get down on his hands and knees and literally crawl in. He asked if I would help him remove the crud he had been storing there. From the inside, he would move it to the entrance and I would drag it away and stack it outside. Frankly, neither of us knew what to expect. Like a lot of us, the family had been periodically throwing various items down into the crawl space for years. It was now time to clean it out, and I could hardly describe any of it as any form of forgotten treasure.

There were some small holes in the foundation which allowed outside air to circulate in the crawl space. Unfortunately, it also allowed in considerable dust and humidity which meant just about everything emerging from under the house was coated with what appeared to be Martian dust. Slowly, but surely my friend began to pass items through the hole to me, including street hockey sticks, skateboards, a variety of baseball and softball paraphernalia, spare tires, old plastic storage boxes that cracked as we brought them out, suit cases in varying stages of decay, kiddy skin diving equipment (snorkels, flippers, and masks), camping equipment, fishing poles, spare parts to cars that were sold many years ago, shelving racks, and at least three dozen golf clubs and irons, all of which were now unusable due to age and decay. My friend finally emerged from the crawl space now coated in the Martian dust himself.

We then surveyed the amount of crud we dragged out and began speculating how old some of the items were. It obviously began many years ago when his children were young, but as they were now all grown up, we realized some of the objects had been down there for at least 25 years. All my friend could do was shake his head in bewilderment.

This little exercise caused me to think about the inventory area we maintain in our office, something I haven’t addressed in quite some time. It’s not a huge warehouse, simply a large room with metal shelving units where we house materials associated with our software products. Over the next few weeks I began to sift through everything and purge the materials we no longer use. In the process, I was able to fill up our garbage dumpster several times. I found old framed charts and promotional posters, video tapes in Beta and Industrial VHS formats (which nobody uses anymore), hundreds of plastic folios for taking notes, packages of plastic templates which now smell like rotten cheese, and paper, lot’s of paper. In addition to computer paper for printers we no longer have, there were boxes and boxes of old manuals and forms to be disposed of, stationery and envelopes of various sizes for our office in Cincinnati (which we left in 1985). We even had two old blackboards in excellent condition, but we couldn’t give them away as nobody uses chalk and slate anymore, particularly the schools (it’s now white boards and computer screens). We recycled whatever materials we could, but we still kept the garbage man incredibly busy for a few weeks.

Between my friend’s house and our office, I am now convinced humans are pack rats by nature. It’s probably in our DNA. Although most of us abhor “hoarders,” we all seem to have a tendency to hold on to things longer than we should. I tend to believe we keep such items because:

1. We think we might find a use for the object sometime in the future, such as passing it down to a relative or friend (who appreciate your kindness but throw it away in the end).

2. We think the object might appreciate in value which we could sell for a profit later on, perhaps on Craiglist or eBay. The only problem is that even when you take good care of such objects, the technology changes and not too many people want it any longer. For example, I posted on eBay a Sony Trinitron Color Camera (DXC-1610) from the early 1980’s in excellent condition which I found in our warehouse. We didn’t receive a single nibble. Sadly, it will likely end up in our dumpster (in the solid metal case it was originally packed in).

3. We attach sentimental value to certain items which inhibit us from disposing of them properly. For example, I found some framed charts we received in Japan recognizing our contribution to improving productivity through Information Systems. I just couldn’t bring myself to pitch them.

The criteria I used in cleaning out the warehouse was, “Do I want to move this should we change offices?” This helped me make up my mind quickly. I eliminated several “dust catchers” as a result of this perspective, most of which was made obsolete through changing technology. We simply had no use for it any longer.

Whether we do it intentionally or not, I think we all collect more crud than we need. As I observed in my earlier article, everything will eventually find its way to the garbage dump, and I mean everything. I do not believe in treating possessions frivolously, but I recognize they tend to outlive their usefulness over time. And the last thing I want to hold onto is three dozen golf clubs covered in Martian dust. As I said to my friend, “What are you keeping that for?”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
DEALING WITH PETTY POLITICS – Some alternatives to kissing someone’s ring.


Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

MAGNETS OF CONTROVERSY

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 13, 2013

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– People who question the status quo are often under attack.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

There are those people who avoid disrupting the status quo at all costs. You know the type; they are politically correct to the point where they hide their head in the sand so they may not be noticed and fear any form of criticism. They may have an opinion, but they dare not speak it openly. The media counts on such people with empty minds as they can be easily shaped and manipulated.

Then there are others who are magnets of controversy. They are not afraid to say what is on their mind, right or wrong, regardless of the consequences. I tend to believe I fall into this category. My numerous articles on business, politics, and life’s passing parade has earned me the ire of people on more than one occasion. You may not always agree with a position I take, but at least you know where I stand on an issue. While others are content being “Yes Men,” I tend to point out when the emperor has no clothes. Such a style in writing is either appreciated for its candor, or despised by the staunch advocates of the status quo. It certainly does not endear me to everyone, but that is not my intention either. Rather, I am endeavoring to stimulate thought.

Winston Churchill deplored “Yes Men,” as do I. Mental gymnastics was important to Churchill. If you had an opposing opinion, he wanted you to stand your ground and defend your position as opposed to acquiescing. Such was his path to enlightenment. I tend to agree. Over the years, I have been fortunate to participate in numerous arguments, all aimed at seeking the truth. In an industry as young as Information Technology is, such discourse is vital. Unfortunately, too many people prefer going on automatic as opposed to engaging their brains. I have no time for such unthinking cabbages and pity their existence. However, some are caring and thoughtful, but lack the means to articulate suitable words. Consequentially, they tend to bite their tongues and avoid the limelight. What a shame.

Magnets of controversy are people who question the status quo in order to improve it. It’s an area staunchly guarded by the ignorant and unthinking, people who will zealously guard against any change. Some people are jealous of the attention such magnets receive and criticize them, more to discredit them as opposed to offering a refutation. While some people may disagree with me venomously, I do not take them to task as I refuse to lower myself to their level.

Our corporate logo since our inception has been, “Software for the finest computer – the Mind.” In the end, we are challenging people to use their intellect and question things that have either been taken for granted or to consider a new perspective. There may be good and valid reasons for maintaining the status quo, then again it might be time for a change. Either way, we should be allowed to argue our position. Such is my job as a magnet of controversy.

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHAT ARE YOU KEEPING THAT FOR? – Good question. Perhaps it is time to clean house and eliminate the flotsam and jetsam.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

 

Posted in Society | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

THE FIVE ELEMENTS OF MASS PRODUCTION

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 11, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– It’s what keeps products and services affordable.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I was recently watching a PBS biography regarding Henry Ford, the famed automotive industrialist who revolutionized manufacturing to produce affordable transportation for Americans. His “Model T” was the first automobile to be mass produced on a grand scale. Between 1908–1927, Ford produced over 15 million such vehicles. Ford’s secret to success was in two areas: recognizing average Americans as his prime consumers, as opposed to developing cars for the rich, and; introducing the concept of the assembly line whereby the vehicle was assembled quickly in stages. Ford identified over 7,000 separate tasks to be performed in manufacturing his automobile. These tasks were broken down in such a way as common laborers could perform the work as opposed to skilled craftsmen. By doing so, he was able to produce 1,000 vehicles a day, a mind-boggling number at the time, all of which were snapped up by the masses.

I’m not sure if we are all cognizant of the five elements of mass production. I don’t think it is taught in the classroom anymore, but it is something we should all be aware of in the workplace as most companies make use of it.

The Five Basic Elements of Mass Production include:

1. Assembly Line – defines the progression and synchronization of work. The Ford example is typical of manufacturing, but you can find similar scenarios in the service industry, such as restaurants, banking, insurance, etc. where there is a specific sequence of events which must be followed in order to produce the desired work product in a timely manner.

2. Division of Labor – breaks the production process into separate tasks performed by specialists or craftsmen. Subdividing the process down into smaller increments provides the means to employ common workers as opposed to developing a dependence on highly skilled craftsmen which may add to the cost to the work product. The danger here is the tedium of repetitive work, as Ford discovered. There are many ways to overcome this, such as routine breaks with light exercise (popular in Japan), or rotation through the various stations in the assembly line, thereby challenging workers to learn all facets of the work product.

3. Precision Tooling – provides mechanical leverage in the assembly line. Even in Ford’s day, he understood the need for using the most technologically advanced tools, something requiring constant monitoring and upgrading.

4. Standardization of Parts – for interchangeability and assembly by unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Such standardization provides the means to share and reuse parts not just within a single product, but between many products. Imagine you are a manufacturer of lawn mowers, and you have fifteen different models for different applications, standardization of parts lowers production costs, simplifies product development, and promotes integration within product lines. This concept can be applied outside of manufacturing as well.

5. Mass Demand – the impetus for mass production. Without it, there is no need for the other four parts. In Ford’s case, it was his desire to sell his product to the multitudes, not just one group. He recognized the need for studying consumption which, of course, is now a responsibility of Marketing to perform.

An inherent part of the production process is the concept of productivity, whereby:

Productivity = Effectiveness X Efficiency

Most people fallaciously equate productivity with efficiency, which simply gauges how fast we can perform a given task. Effectiveness, on the other hand, validates the necessity of the task itself. There is nothing more unproductive than to do something efficiently that should not have been done at all. An industrial robot, for example, can efficiently perform tasks such as welding. However, if it welds the wrong thing or at the wrong time, then it is counterproductive. It therefore becomes important in the production of any product to define Who is to perform What work, When, Where, Why, and How (“5W+H”) which, of course, is the duty of an Industrial Engineer to perform.

The Five Elements of Mass Production affects everyone and is driven by the consumer who desires products and services at an affordable price. The five elements are obviously found in manufacturing, but it can also be applied to other areas, such as systems and software development where processes and programs can be developed in a factory-like production environment. It can also be found in construction where a developer builds multiple houses or condos in a neighborhood. Actually, it’s much more prevalent than most people realize.

Next time you ask for that $.99 hamburger, thank the five elements of mass production. It is what made that product affordable to you.

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MAGNETS OF CONTROVERSY – People who question the status quo are often under attack.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

WHO ARE THE GOOD GUYS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 8, 2013

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– Have they all ridden off into the sunset?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

It used to be you knew who the good guys were. In the movies, there were western heroes like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, and Zorro (I would include Hoot Gibson, Tom Mix and Hopalong Cassidy, but I don’t believe too many people would know who they were). There was also Tarzan, spaceman Flash Gordon, and comic book heroes like the Shadow, the Green Hornet, Superman, Batman, etc. We also used to admire our athletes like Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, all of which were gifted athletes who represented their sport and team admirably. We also followed explorers like Charles Lindbergh, Admiral Byrd, and the Mercury astronauts, not to mention men in the military such as Audie Murphy, Billy Mitchell, Eddie Rickenbacker, Sergeant York, and Chuck Yeager. Even Indiana Jones, which was introduced 32 years ago, is from a bygone generation.

Whether they were fictitious or not, these were all people who were admired. They also made handy role models for others to emulate, particularly our youth. They defined what was good, and were people with unshakable integrity. They were people who could be trusted and, frankly, you wanted to shake their hand. More importantly, you wanted to be them. There is no doubt, many of them were carefully managed by a studio and agents, and their public comments were well scripted, but their public persona remained above reproach.

I’m not too sure who our heroes are anymore. None receive the publicity our heroes of yesteryear received. The heroes emerging from Hollywood today are portrayed as flawed individuals. Through some twist of fate, they all have an unsettling dark side whereby they can either turn to good or evil. Our athletes have become mercenaries who are as loyal as the highest bidder. Perhaps the closest thing we have to heroes are our military troops, police, firefighters, and EMT personnel, but we think of them more as faceless professionals, as opposed to bearing any identity.

Maybe our heroes are nothing more than those people on reality television who sing and dance, or maybe they are the latest generation of cartoon characters, such as “SpongeBob SquarePants.” If this is true, it is rather shallow thinking. I also hope they are not the “gansta” rap artists or street gangs.

No, I’m not too sure who the good guys are anymore. All of my childhood heroes, such as Johnny Weissmuller, Clayton Moore and Buster Crabbe, are long gone. I am certainly not suggesting we go back to these characters of yesteryear, but I am wondering why we are not promoting new characters based on the same virtues and nobility. It would seem there is a premeditated attempt to do away with not only such characters, but the ethics associated with them, such as honesty, integrity, honor, and bravery. These are all admirable traits, but I no longer see them being portrayed in a positive light. The “good guys” serve an important function in our society, namely “morality.” Let’s just hope the good guys haven’t all riden off into the sunset.

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:  
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
THE FIVE ELEMENTS OF MASS PRODUCTION – It’s what keeps products and services affordable.


Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Life, Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

THE DEATH OF BIPARTISANSHIP

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 6, 2013

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– It’s actually been gone for a long time, at least since 2009.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

On numerous occasions, President Obama has openly criticized Congressmen for the lack of give and take in their deliberations and contends such “business as usual” behavior is unacceptable. He does this with great aplomb, as if he was an innocent bystander in the process. He deserves kudos for not cracking a smile when saying this. Congressmen on both sides of the the aisle contend they yearn for bipartisanship but I’m afraid its time has passed, and it is now nothing more than a pipe dream. Former Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine recently dropped out of Congress after recognizing hyper-partisanship has led the federal government to becoming dysfunctional. Forces are at work to prohibit it.

The Left paints people like George Bush, Mitt Romney, and John Boehner as the personification of evil; conversely, conservatives see Barrack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi in the same light. Even though voters were acutely aware of the gridlock in Washington, they elected to keep it that way. Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Boehner, and Cantor are still in their same positions; the balance of power in the Congress remains unchanged; the economy, debt and deficit are still out of control; we still do not have a budget; we’re still putting pork into our legislation (including the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ and ‘Hurricane Sandy’ bills); we still do not know the truth about Benghazi or ‘Fast and Furious’; taxes continue to climb, and; we continue to raise the salary and perks of our government leaders. The only thing we accomplished in 2012 was that we raised billions of dollars to fuel the fires of the media. So why should we be optimistic that anything fruitful will occur during 2013?

The Left blames a lot of the problem on Grover Norquist’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” whereby legislators signed promises to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.” Liberals criticize this pledge for impeding negotiations. On the other hand, conservatives feel snookered by Obama over the “fiscal cliff” legislation which upped the tax rates of the rich, while also including considerable “pork.”

During his first campaign, the President promised his administration would be the most transparent in history. It didn’t exactly work out that way. GOP congressmen were certainly not consulted over the Obamacare legislation. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the time was unsure what it included, but she dutifully pushed for its passage. The president has basically decided he cannot negotiate with House Republicans, consequently it is no longer a matter of deliberating over the content of a bill, it’s a matter of knowing when to introduce it for political gain, such as at the last minute. This would all be laughable except for the fact America is faced with some rather severe problems. So much for transparency.

Make no mistake, the hyper-partisanship is all about control of the country, not just the purse strings either, but how Americans should live and work, and who should call the shots, the government or the citizens. I do not believe the politicians in Washington honestly want bipartisanship as it means caving into the other side, thereby derailing their plans for control. It’s more than just acquiescing due to principles and ideology, but also to the interpretation of morality. Put yourself in the position of a Washington politician and honestly ask yourself what can truly be gained from practicing bipartisanship. The reality is, unless something radical changes the current situation in Washington, bipartisanship has gone the way of the Dodo.

To be blunt, there is no such thing as “political morality” in Washington, which is ultimately why Americans no longer trust its government. This is why I am a big proponent of a Constitutional Convention as prescribed by Article V of the Constitution, whereby certain elements of the Constitution can be addressed, such as: Congressional term limits, Congressional compensation and benefits, Federal lobbying, the Electoral Process, Immigration, Balanced Budget, etc. These are topics Congress and the White House simply do not have the political fortitude to address, but something we desperately need.

Although the president claims to be an innocent bystander in the partisan confrontation, he is the chief strategist for his party and actually spurns any suggestion of bipartisanship, which is why he relies heavily on executive orders. This is evidently what the voters wanted and it will continue unabated, if not get progressively worse. In the meantime, the people grow restless. Well at least half of us do, the other half thinks everything is just fine. Go figure.

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&JB Investment Company (M&JB) 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:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
WHO ARE THE GOOD GUYS? – Have they all ridden off into the sunset?


Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST).

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

 
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