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Archive for October, 2015

PRESS 1 FOR ENGLISH

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 30, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Or Press 0 to speak with an agent.

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

Welcome to (any company using voice mail). Your call is very important to us. Listen to your options carefully:

PRESS 1 – for English.

PRESS 2 – por Espanol.

PRESS 3 – for any other language except French, Greek, Dutch, Italian, German, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, and Ebonics.

PRESS 4 – if you detest Voice Mail.

Thank you. While we’re processing your request we’ll now play some incredibly boring music repetitively that has been proven to drive away most adults.

PRESS 1 – if you are a glutton for punishment and want to continue waiting.

PRESS 2 – if you would like to call back and be bored to death another time.

PRESS 3 – if you would like to change language options.

PRESS 4 – if you detest Voice Mail.

Please note, for Quality Assurance purposes some of our calls may be monitored. In reality though, we couldn’t care less.

PRESS 1 – to enter your nine digit social security number.

PRESS 2 – to enter your account number which we will lose after you have entered it.

PRESS 3 – to enter the winning Lotto number for tonight’s drawing.

PRESS 4 – to enter the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

For a Customer Service agent:

PRESS 1 – to speak to “Bob” in India.

PRESS 2 – to speak to “Bob” in Baghdad.

PRESS 3 – to speak to “Bob” in Pakistan.

PRESS 4 – to speak to “Bob” in the United States. Sorry, just kidding.

Thank you for your patience. All of our agents are currently busy with other customers at this time. Please stay on the line and the next available agent will take your call in the order it was received, which happens to be backwards. While you’re waiting, take your telephone outside to your front yard, jump up and down, wave your arms madly, and scream like a chicken as it will be a better use of your time than waiting for us to do anything on the phone.

Originally published: October 1, 2010

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE PERILS OF NOT KNOWING YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES – “Nobody is driving officer, we’re all in the back seat.”

LAST TIME:  MORALE IN THE MILITARY  – Lowest since the Carter Administration.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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Posted in Communications, Life, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

MORALE IN THE MILITARY

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 28, 2015

BRYCE ON THE MILITARY

– Lowest since the Carter Administration.

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

I happened to have lunch recently with a friend in the military, a captain in the Air Force. In the course of our conversation, he complained about the state of morale in the military. A few days later I happened to talk with another military friend, a captain in the Army, who also spoke of the growing morale problems in his branch of the military. The similarities of their separate remarks surprised me.

As captains, I look upon them as “middle management” in the military, charged with instructing their men under orders from their superiors. Remarkably, both painted a dismal picture, not at all what the general public perceives as the state of our military. What I heard was a dog-eat-dog world where there is little teamwork or cooperation, a cover-your-ass mentality, and people bailing out of the service as opposed to making it a career. They described a very bureaucratic world with an inordinate amount of paperwork impeding progress. There is also a lack of leadership, and you are discouraged from taking charge. In other words, there is no longer a culture of “improvise, adapt and overcome” as characterized by the Marines. Instead, it appears the military is suffering with a bad case of “Theory X,” a top-down autocratic form of management best characterized by the expression “micromanagement.”

I was also told the millennials coming into the service are “soft” as they feel entitled to promotions without having to earn it. This is alarming to people just ten years their senior.

After speaking with the captains, I was reminded of the military culture under President Jimmy Carter, which was perhaps one of our lowest points in recent memory. This all changed for the better when President Ronald Reagan became Commander-in-Chief.

Following these discussions, I decided to do a little investigation to see if these were legitimate grievances. It didn’t take me long to validate their stories. This past December, the “Military Times” ran a story titled, “America’s Military: A force adrift” which described a worsening morale crisis. The Times surveyed 2,300 active-duty troops and from this, “found morale indicators on the decline in nearly every aspect of military life. Troops report significantly lower overall job satisfaction, diminished respect for their superiors, and a declining interest in re-enlistment now compared to just five years ago. Today’s service members say they feel underpaid, under-equipped and under-appreciated, the survey data showed.”

The survey goes on to report, “active-duty troops reported a stunning drop in how they rated their overall quality of life: Just 56 percent call it good or excellent, down from 91 percent in 2009” (at the start of President Obama’s administration).

All of this follows years of deep cuts in the military and tens of thousands of troops pink slipped. Unfortunately, most soldiers do not see the military getting better any time soon, hence the growing disenchantment. From this perspective, the parallel to the Carter years is uncanny. What is most troubling is the American public has no idea of the problem and prefer to think everything is rosie in the military. The truth is, it is not. It should make us all wonder what kind of leadership we’ll have in our next armed conflict, and if anyone will follow.

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  PRESS 1 FOR ENGLISH – Or Press 0 to speak with an agent.

LAST TIME:  HOW THE PRESS CONTROLS POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS  – “The judge, jury and executioner of American politics.”

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Military, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

WHO’S ON BEEF?

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 27, 2015

BRYCE ON FOOD

– Let’s see, we have hot dogs on first, burgers on second, chili at short, and I don’t give a damn on third.

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

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently took aim at our consumption of meat, claiming it was a carcinogen, much like tobacco. They specifically included processed meats, such as hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, and just about anything prepared at a butcher shop. They also took aim at red beef, bacon, and cheese. No doubt, vegans from around the world ran a celebratory lap after learning of this. I’m sorry, but I’m not quite ready for tofu burgers or chili made from bean sprouts. Nope, not going to happen.

The report implies the consumption of such meat products should be regulated like tobacco, and likely taxed as such. Sorry, but I do not want the government any more involved with my food than they already are. I also foresee a class action lawsuit in the not too distant future against supermarkets and butcher shops, much like the ones against the tobacco companies. I can see the attorneys drooling already. If such a lawsuit is won, this will be the end of meat consumption as we know it, and hello to “Soylent Green.”

As for me, I’ll continue to “mainline” on beef. Sorry, I’m hooked. I love my char grilled hot dogs (particularly from Buffalo), my Cincinnati-style Chili, Beef on Weck (another delicacy from Buffalo), hot Italian sausages, pork ribs, tacos and burritos, meatloaf, burgers (e.g., White Castles), and, of course, steaks, chops and bacon. I also love fowl and seafood, but save the beef for me.

Frankly, I believe this to be nothing more than another liberal conspiracy to change our habits and make us feel guilty about ourselves, much like climate control. To paraphrase Charlton Heston though, they will have to take my hot dog “from my cold, dead hands.” These “do-gooders” are going to be the death of us all, not the meat. Why can’t they just leave us alone? Maybe its finally time to divide the country and let the liberals live in one section of the country and the sane people in the rest. Maybe its time to let the the Godless ones of California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Wisconsin, Washington, Chicago and New York City secede and leave the rest of us alone.

Either that or I guess this means we will all have to give it up; reading the news that is.

As to the WHO, thank you for your research. You have advised us accordingly. Now, like tobacco, we will take due notice and govern ourselves accordingly. Now go away.

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MORALE IN THE MILITARY – Lowest since the Carter Administration.

LAST TIME:  HOW THE PRESS CONTROLS POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS  – “The judge, jury and executioner of American politics.”

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Food, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

HOW THE PRESS CONTROLS POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 26, 2015

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– “The judge, jury and executioner of American politics.”

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

I want to touch on a sensitive political issue, namely the role of the press in our electoral process, particularly as it relates to Republicans. This is so sensitive, I experienced difficultly trying to publish an earlier version of this article. It is the dirty little secret which everyone knows, but is unwilling to address, namely the formidable power of the press to alter the course of campaigns. The media knows the Democrats have a weak lineup headed by Hillary Clinton, but they are still loyal to the Clintons and the party, and will go to any lengths to twist public opinion against the Republicans.

Donald Trump appears to be the only candidate who knows how to competently joust with the press. For example, after the second debate, Trump was interviewed by NBC’s “Today Show” hostess Savannah Guthrie who asked his opinion of a new CNN poll showing his ratings are starting to decline. Instead of taking the bait, Trump asked Guthrie why she wasn’t quoting their own NBC poll showing him way ahead. In other words, Trump refused to play the media’s game. He knows the press is needed for exposure, but he also understands their political agenda.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker dropped out of the race on September 21st, which is probably a good thing as I do not believe he possessed the intestinal fortitude for such a race, at least not yet. Don’t get me wrong, I like Walker and watched his July 13th presidential announcement which I thought was rather inspiring. However, his bubble burst in just two short months. Of the 17 GOP candidates, he was the second to last to announce his candidacy, and the second to drop out.

In his exit announcement he took a swipe at Donald Trump, thereby implying Trump was largely to blame for his demise. It is true Walker got in the way of the Trump juggernaut, but so were the other candidates. There are two other reasons for his failure; himself for misjudging the complexities of a presidential run, and the most imposing element of all, the press, or as I refer to it as “the judge, jury and executioner of American politics.”

Even before his announcement to run, the press pegged Walker as one of the leaders in the GOP race to be reckoned with, and one of the most conservative. Even the Democrats were afraid of him due to his ability to survive two vicious gubernatorial elections in Wisconsin. Walker was considered anti-union, anti-LGBT, anti-immigration, anti-Planned Parenthood, and (gasp) not politically correct. Such a persona was deemed a genuine threat to the liberal agenda, so an order was likely given to the press to take him down. They did so by simply ignoring him. While they turned their attention to Trump, they shut down Walker simply by ignoring him. Without adequate media exposure, he began to decline in the polls, causing the super-PACs to renege their support for him, along with their money.

During the second GOP debate in California, CNN egged Walker to attack Trump, a tactic he should have been smart enough to avoid. He didn’t, and by taking their bait, Trump boxed his ears. CNN also didn’t give Walker much of a chance to explain his policies and positions, and was allowed only seven minutes of exposure in a three hour debate. This was followed by the media’s talking heads dismissing Walker’s performance which resulted in plummeting poll numbers, and his exit.

In other words, Trump wasn’t really responsible for Walker’s departure, the press was, and the rest of the Republican field should take notice. The liberal media is not interested in having a GOP president and will go to any lengths to prevent a Republican from winning the White House, such as distorting the truth, controlling the ink (media exposure), and manipulating public opinion. Finding fair and balanced reporting is difficult. To illustrate, I make active use of Google’s news alerts whereby I receive news reports based on keywords, such as Republican, GOP, Florida, etc. As a story is produced, I am sent an e-mail notifying me of it. This can become rather voluminous. However, I have noticed of all Republican related news stories, maybe one in twenty or twenty-five are fair and balanced, the rest are fallacious and filled with distortions and lies. So much for the journalistic integrity of the main street media.

If I do not hear the words directly from the lips of the candidates myself, I certainly do not rely on the media to accurately report them. For example, consider Trump’s McCain flap a couple of months ago, or more recently, Ben Carson’s Muslim comments. Both were taken out of context and spun to a gullible public who has been trained to accept short sound bites. Whereas the press doggedly stays focused on Republicans, the Democrats are given a pass, thereby revealing where the media’s loyalties reside.

So, what can be done? The candidates must take the press to task, particularly in the remaining debates. Unlike Walker, they should be smart enough to know when they are being baited. Second, they should not allow the press to distort the truth. Through their speeches and social media, the candidates should recognize what reporters and media institutions are not being honest. Boycotting the media outlet is another viable option. Third, do not give press passes or grant interviews to anyone who does not possess press credentials from The Constitution First Amendment Press Association (CFAPA). This pledge is a sort of hippocratic oath as applied to journalists. The CFAPA pledge means they will conform to ethical standards.

I am also in favor of making the media pay the candidates for their participation in the debates. After all, the press is being amply paid for the debates, not the candidates. Honorariums in the form of donations to charity should be mandated, particularly if the press wants to make a mockery of how debates should be performed. I would also suggest the rest of the candidates take a “media relations” lesson from Trump or hire Newt Gingrich to mentor them. If they do it right, they will not allow themselves to be intimidated and the public will respond favorably.

The one thing the press is very cognizant of is the public’s growing mistrust of the media. According to Gallup, “Americans’ Trust in the Media Remains at Historic Low.” The media can ill-afford to lose the support of John Q. Public, and this represents their Achilles’ heel. Should the public turn on the press, it would change politics in America as we know it.

Scott Walker’s departure was celebrated as a major victory by the press. The question is, which GOP candidate will allow him/herself to be the next victim to suffer their wrath? Better yet, when will the public say to the press, “Enough is enough!”

By winning the war with the media, Trump has a legitimate chance of winning the election. The media’s attempt to control him will backfire in their faces by earning the respect of the public. What the press doesn’t seem to grasp is they need Trump more than Trump needs them.

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MORALE IN THE MILITARY – Lowest since the Carter Administration.

LAST TIME:  OUR DEVOTION TO LITERATURE  – learning to appreciate reading, regardless what form it may take.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Media, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 18 Comments »

OUR DEVOTION TO LITERATURE

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 23, 2015

BRYCE ON BOOKS

– learning to appreciate reading, regardless what form it may take.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published: September 28, 2010

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HOW THE PRESS CONTROLS POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS – “The judge, jury and executioner of American politics.”

LAST TIME:  SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF  – and all other Law Enforcement Officers (LEO). How can we show our appreciation?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Books, Life, Literature | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 21, 2015

BRYCE ON LAW ENFORCEMENT

– and all other Law Enforcement Officers (LEO). How can we show our appreciation?

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

Law enforcement officers (LEO) have had a rough year. Between their normal duties and responsibilities, which vary greatly and can be dangerous, they have had to deal with riots, such as in Baltimore and Ferguson, threats by the Black Panthers, Nation of Islam and Black Lives Matter, and officer executions. I like to believe the American public overall supports our men and women in uniform; only the “crazies” want to see them destroyed so anarchy can flourish. Perhaps it is time for the “Silent Majority” to reaffirm their support for the police and sheriff departments around the country. One might ask, “What can I do to show my support?” Plenty. Here are a few ideas:

First, why not buy an officer a cup of coffee or breakfast? The only danger here is that it might be construed you are trying to bribe the officers for small favors. To overcome this problem, buy a gift card for coffee or breakfast and anonymously donate it to your local police station. If you give cards to the sheriff or police chief, I’m confident they would distribute them equitably.

Another movement catching on, particularly in our northern and western states, is the “Coffee with a Cop” program whereby a civic organization or a radio station arranges for citizens to meet with law enforcement officers at a coffee house. This provides an opportunity for residents to ask questions and share concerns, and in the process, build relationships. These “Coffee with a Cop” events are catching on rapidly. Buying a cup of coffee may seem like a small gesture, but on a cold morning it is very much appreciated, as is the support from the public.

Second, for many years, our local Masonic Lodge has held a program for “Deputy of the Year.” Working through the sheriff’s office, a deputy is selected by the department to receive recognition. The Lodge then hosts a dinner where the deputy and his/her spouse are recognized for their service and given a small token of appreciation. The deputy then makes a few comments thanking the group for the award and recognizes the support of his family and unit. It is a very touching and appreciated award.

Third, Christmas is approaching and I know of schools who have invited the family and friends of law enforcement personnel to a special holiday program featuring choral units. Both children and adults particularly enjoy such personal entertainment.

I’m sure there are dozens of other ideas you may have to thank law enforcement for their efforts. It doesn’t have to be a lavish affair either. Just a genuine expression of gratitude, such as young students writing “thank you” cards to local police, or invite LEO to meet and talk with students. A simple hand shake will also do.

Maybe the best way to show your appreciation is to simply obey the law. In this day and age where the nation has been exhibiting a general lack of respect for law and order, it would be refreshing to see people abide by the law. In the process, it would make the job of a law enforcement officer a lot easier.

No, LEOs are certainly not perfect, but we must remember, they are human and are on our side. They are the ones we call when we are in trouble or need protection. It’s a dangerous job, which is why an occasional “thank you” works wonders in cementing relations between the community and law enforcement.

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  OUR DEVOTION TO LITERATURE – learning to appreciate reading, regardless what form it may take.

LAST TIME:  OUR SENSE OF PROFESSIONALISM  – It’s about substance versus facade.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Law Enforcement, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

OUR SENSE OF PROFESSIONALISM

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 19, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– It’s about substance versus facade.

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

The word “professional” means a person is engaged in a specific activity as one’s main paid occupation. Related to this is “professionalism,” which is considered the quality of a person’s work as it applies to his vocation, e.g.; “You can depend on Jim, he is very professional in his job,” or; “Forget about Fred, he’s undependable, inconsistent; you know, very unprofessional.” I find it interesting the perspectives we have of ourselves as professionals. We all like to believe we are top-notch go-getters, but in reality is this really so? Young people desperately look for recognition from their managers as to the caliber of their work. Many genuinely believe they are highly professional in their work effort. The reality is they are far from it.

Some people believe their sense of professionalism is based on their taste in clothes and grooming, that if they project a certain image, people will develop a high opinion of them. Others believe it is a matter of being regarded as an authority on a specific subject. All of this is just facade. It’s not a matter of appearances or being an authority on a subject, but more a matter of your ability to deliver. It means you take your vocation seriously and are committed to success. From this perspective, it is more akin to “class” as applied to workmanship, such as inferior, average, good, and best. The professional thereby embraces best practices on a regular basis. Whereas some people do just enough to get by, the professional consistently produces superior results. Facade is simply not enough, it’s all about results. There is nothing more worthless than a person who knows how to do a job, but cannot deliver.

A true professional is considered resourceful, polished, knowledgeable, determined, and above all else, dependable to perform a task to a successful completion. You are the “go-to” person who produces superior results and, in the process, makes it look easy. Even if the task is difficult, you do not complain, you just make it happen. In other words, a true professional goes above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis.

Instilling a sense of professionalism in an organization is difficult and requires coaching and mentoring. It includes developing a sense of craftsmanship, where methodologies and techniques are taught to the point it is understood; the benefits of performing tasks the right way, and the risks and penalties associated with performing tasks the wrong way. Our sense of professionalism is an inherent part of the corporate culture. The ultimate goal is to develop an esprit de corps whereby the company as a whole possesses the notion of zero tolerance for defects and attaining goals on-time and within budget.

I wish it would be possible to certify professionalism, but you cannot, primarily because it is more of an attitude as opposed to a quantifiable technique. Projecting a professional image through fashion and vocabulary is nice and adds to your persona, but if you really want to be recognized as a professional, develop a reputation for delivering quality work products. Consider your approach to work; if you do just enough to get by, you are not there yet.

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF – and all other Law Enforcement Officers (LEO). How can we show our appreciation?

LAST TIME:  EVOKING MEMORIES  – How the sense of smell and taste can unleash vivid memories.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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EVOKING MEMORIES

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 16, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– How the sense of smell and taste can unleash vivid memories.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Of all of our senses, smell and taste can trigger vivid emotional memories, even going so far as to making us feel like we are being transported back in time. Sight, sound, and touch are also useful, but smell and taste evokes powerful images for us. I have three personal examples that take me back in time to my youth.

The first involves the use of my taste buds. Lately I’ve taken to drinking fruit juices late at night. I have orange juice which is usually reserved for breakfast, but I also keep apple and grape juice in the fridge, along with a fruit punch, something I enjoyed in my youth. I usually opt for the diet lite versions of these products as I do not want the sugar, but they are still delicious and I like them particularly cold. When I drink them, the taste takes me back to the early 1960’s when I enjoyed such drinks in large tin cans which we would open with “church keys.” If I was lucky, I would drink from the can and distinctly remember the taste of the tin which added to its flavor. In particular, the grape drink reminds me of the cheap frozen popsicles we would enjoy during the summertime. Back then, we also poured the grape drink into a Tupperware popsicle maker and froze it. When I consume these drinks today, I am transported back for a few scant seconds where I enjoyed such heavenly drinks.

The second experience involves the use of smell. Sometimes, early in the morning, when I go to retrieve the newspaper in the driveway, the sun is just starting to peek up over the horizon and I can smell the dew on the lawn. It’s even better if the grass was freshly cut. It’s at this moment when I return to my elementary school in Connecticut where I used to ride my old reliable J.C. Higgins bicycle early to school so my friends and I could play a couple of innings of baseball before the first bell. Our parents could never understand why we wanted to go to school so early, but they chalked it up as a positive sign we liked school. Actually, it was all about baseball. As I smell the morning today, I vividly remember what route I would take to school, how fast I would go on my bike, ever mindful not to let my books and baseball mitt pop out of my front basket.

The third experience also involves smell. You have heard me talk about my fly-fishing excursions in the past, particularly in North Carolina. There is something inspirational about working a stream, something rather peaceful and therapeutic. In my case, when I enter a babbling brook, I am again transported back to the Connecticut of my youth, where we would fish in streams with simple rods and reels, using stringers to secure our catches, and how to clean the fish afterwards. Near to the streams would be fruit trees and we would enjoy apples and peaches. We spent a lot of time in the streams, fishing and swimming, and building forts along the way to stay out of our parents’ eyes. It was a glorious time.

Our sense of smell and taste are powerful and a link to our past. It reminds us of the kitchens of our grandparents, certain restaurants, and of events in the past, small or epochal. It’s evoked by such simple things as aftershave lotion, burning leaves, pipe tobacco, cooking with charcoal brickets, bacon, burned toast, etc., and suddenly we are transported back to our youth. Sadly, as strong as these memories are, they last but a few precious seconds, which is long enough to remind me how lucky I was to enjoy such experiences.

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  OUR SENSE OF PROFESSIONALISM – It’s about substance versus facade.

LAST TIME:  INDIVIDUALISM VERSUS TEAMWORK  – “There is more to building a team than buying new uniforms.” – Bryce’s Law

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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INDIVIDUALISM VERSUS TEAMWORK

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 14, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– “There is more to building a team than buying new uniforms.” – Bryce’s Law

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INTRODUCTION

As you travel around corporate America these days, you hear a lot about “teams”; that groups, departments or whole divisions are trying to behave more as a team as opposed to a group of individuals. Its the latest catch phrase du jour. I guess someone finally figured out the power of teamwork. Then again, how much of this represents sincere effort? My corporate contacts tell me its mostly facade. They contend they get some nifty new corporate shirts and some great pep talks, but aside from this, little else. As much as corporations tout the need for teamwork, most still encourage rugged individualism.

There is more to creating a team than simply saying you are one. New shirts and axioms are nice, but in order for this to work, people have to think and act as a team. In other words, success hinges on it becoming a natural part of the corporate culture.

CORPORATE CULTURE

Teachers, coaches, and drill instructors have long understood the value of teamwork. The intent is to turn a heterogeneous working environment into a homogeneous environment whereby everyone is working in a concerted effort towards common goals. However, do corporate managers truly understand teamwork? Not necessarily. Many still create competitive environments in the hope the strongest person will rise to the surface. Teamwork is more about cooperation than it is about competition.

This brings up an important point: Teamwork is taught. It means developing a disciplined work environment where the participants must conform to a specific set of rules. Inevitably, it means breaking some work habits and creating new ones. This can be painful, yet necessary if you want to achieve the desired results. Basically, you are teaching people how to live and work together as opposed to apart.

In the United States there is more of a natural inclination to teach individualism as opposed to teamwork; perhaps this is because we are a nation based on freedoms. For example, our public school systems have minimal dress and hair codes; each student is allowed to look and dress as they personally see fit, many with some very questionable taste. This is permitted as it is believed the individual must be allowed to freely express him/herself. This may be fine, but it certainly does not promote a spirit of teamwork. Compare it to other countries, such as Japan, where students are required to wear school uniforms and are given group assignments, such as the preparation and cleanup of their daily lunch. In Japan, students are taught the value of cooperation at an early age which has the added benefit of improving their socialization skills.

As mentioned, teamwork requires the establishment of a working environment conducive to teamwork. It doesn’t happen simply by making some platitudinous statements. A manager must do more, much more; some suggestions:

1. First and foremost: Lead. All teams need a leader who can articulate goals and give direction. The team must trust and believe in its leader. Without such confidence, the team will not likely follow the leader, particularly in times of difficulty. The leader should also be wary of leading by democratic rule. Soliciting input is one thing, as is having assistants, but there can only be one ultimate leader to guide the team.

2. Institute uniform operating practices that everyone will be expected to conform to, such as operating hours of work, dress code, office appearance, speech and conduct, etc. Such uniformity stresses the equality of the workers. As another suggestion, downplay job titles and put more emphasis on work assignments instead. Job titles tend to emphasize a person’s stature in a company and can be disruptive in terms of equality.

3. Establish standard practices for executing work assignments, thereby everyone is following the same methods, and using the same tools and techniques in their work effort. This improves communications, provides for the interchangeability of workers, and promotes the development of quality work products.

4. Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and assignments and understands their importance. Nobody wants to be regarded as the weakest link and, as such, the manager must be able to communicate their importance and carefully balance the workload. Yes, there will be those workers who will undoubtedly excel over others, but teamwork is a group effort. If a weaker worker needs additional training, either give it to him/her or replace the person.

5. Routinely check progress. Whenever applicable, keep statistics on both team and individual performance. However, it is not important to publish such stats. It is important for the leader to know the team’s strengths and weaknesses, but it is nobody else’s business.

6. Be on the lookout for conflicts in working relationships. Some people will simply not get along and it is up to the manager to referee such conflicts. Either have the people work out their differences, keep them apart, or rid yourself of them. You want harmony, not contention, on your team.

7. Allow time for the team to meet and discuss issues as a group. This keeps everyone in tune with common goals, problems, and the team’s general progress. It also allows the team to socialize and form a camaraderie (a bonding of unity).

8. Recognize individual achievement but reward on a team basis as opposed to an individual basis.

CONCLUSION

Are we really trying to promote teamwork or is this nothing more than the latest corporate fad that is being implemented more for public relations than anything else? Let’s hope for the former and not the latter. Teamwork is a powerful concept, particularly when there is anything of substance to be done.

Shrewd managers intuitively understand the need for teamwork. Let me give you an example from the world of entertainment. Jack Benny, the famous comedian of yesteryear had a great appreciation for teamwork. His radio and television shows were consistently at the top of the rating charts for a number of years. When asked what his secret to success was, Benny simply said teamwork. To Jack, it wasn’t important that he personally got the best lines and laughs week after week. In fact, he was often the butt of many of the jokes. Instead, he made sure his cast, guests, and writers all received the accolades they deserved. It was more important to Benny that people said they had tuned into “The Show” as opposed to tuning in to see “Jack Benny.” He was right.

I realize there are instances in business when it becomes necessary to exercise individualism, but these are becoming a rarity. Instead companies can find greater glory as a team as opposed to a group of individuals.

“Individual glory is insignificant when compared to achieving victory as a team.”
– Dot Richardson, M.D.
U.S. Olympic Softball Team
Two time Gold Medal Champions

Related article:
“Understanding Corporate Culture” – 9/17/2012

Originally published: June 12, 2006

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  EVOKING MEMORIES – How the sense of smell and taste can unleash vivid memories.

LAST TIME:  A TALE OF TWO PROJECTS  – “Beware of your firefighters; they are probably your chief arsonists.” – Bryce’s Law

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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A TALE OF TWO PROJECTS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 12, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– “Beware of your firefighters; they are probably your chief arsonists.” – Bryce’s Law

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

The following is a true story; a vintage “Dilbertism.” Because of this, the names have been changed to protect the innocent (as well as the guilty). Interestingly, I do not believe this story to be unique and similar stories can be found in countless IT shops around the world.

Our story begins just a couple of years ago in a large manufacturing company in the American Midwest. At the time, the company was interested in replacing two aging, yet important, systems; an Accounts Payable System (“AP”) and an Accounts Receivable System (“AR”). The IT Director selected two of his most seasoned veterans to manage the projects, we’ll call them “Steve” and “Bob.” Both project managers were charged with their responsibilities on the same day: Steve to build the AP system, and Bob to build the AR system. Both were given approximately the same amount of human and machine resources to accomplish the work.

Steve was a very organized and disciplined manager. He found it essential to organize and train his staff upfront so everyone understood the development process, the deliverables to be produced, and their assigned responsibilities. Recognizing the large scope of his project, Steve felt it important to methodically attack his system and meticulously worked out a plan and schedule to implement it. In Phase 1 he spent what appeared to be an inordinate amount of time studying the business problem, specifying information requirements, and developing a rough design of the system solution. Steve’s people actively participated in this early phase and thought the problem through carefully before proceeding with the project. Following the Phase 1, Steve’s team finalized details of the overall AP system architecture, and divided his group into teams to tackle the various sub-systems in parallel. To complement this effort, his data base people oversaw the logical data base design to accommodate the needs of the whole system, not just any one portion of it.

Steve also recruited the support of the AP Department and had key personnel from this area participate in the development of the system. The input from these users was vital not only in Phase 1, but also in succeeding phases where the business processes were designed.

By concentrating on the overall system architecture and then by gradually refining the design over succeeding phases, the Software Engineers were given detailed specifications which were easy to follow and implement. Consequently, the programming phases went smoothly, including testing.

The core sub-systems satisfying the operational needs of AP were on schedule and being installed with great support from the user community.

While Steve’s project was coming along smoothly, Bob was facing chaos with the AR system. Instead of studying the problem upfront, Bob’s group began by building a core data base. Shortly thereafter he set his programmers to work building some basic input screens and rather simple outputs. In no time, Bob had something to demonstrate to the user community (and his boss) to prove progress was indeed being made.

Bob’s group though had not done their homework. The AR community was not consulted and requirements were not defined. As a result, programmers were left second-guessing what the users really needed which started a long round of “cut-and-fitting” the code. Further, the integrity of the data base came into question. False assumptions were made about calculated data elements which cascaded throughout the program code. In addition, data validation rules were not established. This forced the programmers to invent their own rules and calculation formulas in each of their programs which led to data redundancy issues and even bigger headaches for the development staff. As users were given glimpses of the programs by Bob, data integrity issues became an issue and the users didn’t trust the information being produced by the system (e.g., calculations were computed differently by the various programs). Bob’s group touted the AR system as “state-of-the-art,” but the users were not convinced it was reliable or intuitive to use.

All of this lead to a redesign of the data base and programs, not just once but several times. Consequently, the project schedule started to slip and costs exceeded budget. To overcome this problem, Bob and his staff worked overtime to play catch-up with the schedule (which he never realized). Regardless, the IT Director began to take notice of the long hours Bob and his team were putting into the project and complimented them on their dedication.

Bob finally delivered a portion of the project to the AR department, but in testing it the users found it fraught with errors. To overcome this problem, Bob’s group was ever ready to jump in and modify the code as required. Even though the users found the programs buggy, they commended Bob for how quickly his group would be able to fix them.

The difference between Steve and Bob’s groups were like night and day. While Bob operated under a “helter-skelter” mode of operation, Steve’s group operated quietly and began to deliver the system on time and within budget, much to the user department’s satisfaction.

Steve understood the enormity of the system and its importance to the company, and, as such, took the time to organize and train his group accordingly. Bob also understood the importance of his application but took the tact of producing something management and the user community could “touch and feel” thereby demonstrating something was happening in his department, right or wrong. Further, his SWAT team approach to putting out fires made him a favorite with corporate management. As a result, Bob enjoyed a high profile in the company while Steve was a relative unknown.

Unfortunately, Bob’s project ran amok, unbearably so. Recognizing he had to do something radical in order to get Bob’s project back on track, the IT Director made an unusual move; he swapped Steve and Bob as project managers. Steve was charged with cleaning up Bob’s mess, and Bob was charged with finishing Steve’s project. Offhand it sounded like a shrewd move. Steve had proven to the IT Director he could get things done, regardless of the application size. And the IT Director figured Bob could simply close-out the AP project. The IT Director figured wrong. While Steve started the arduous task of bringing organization and discipline to the AR system, Bob quickly dismantled Steve’s organization and brought chaos to the AP system. This did not sit well with a lot of people, particularly Steve’s former project team who felt they had grasped defeat from the jaws of victory. Steve was also growing disenchanted as he had almost completed one system and was now charged with cleaning up his predecessor’s mess. To add insult to injury, because of Bob’s high profile status, he was given an increase in pay and job promotion, but Steve didn’t receive likewise.

Steve got the AR system back on track and finally implemented it much to the satisfaction of all concerned. Bob lost control of the AP system almost immediately and it spun out of control until Steve was finally called back in to finish it. Not knowing what to do with high-profile Bob, the IT Director made the classic move of promoting Bob and transferring him to another area where he could do less harm.

LESSONS LEARNED

Is there a happy ending to this true story? Not for Steve. Although he cleaned up the mess and ultimately managed both projects to a successful conclusion, he became disenchanted with how he had been treated by the company. Subsequently, he left and started his own consulting firm who was ultimately hired by his old company to develop new systems (at substantially higher rates). As for Bob, he enjoyed the perks and pay resulting from his new position for quite some time. Eventually, he got the hint and moved on to another company where he made a similar name for himself.

Although Bob was a fine example of the “Peter Principle” (rising above your level of competence) he recognized results were not necessary on the road to success, but rather, image was everything. He learned early on that “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.”

As I mentioned at the outset, this is not a random incident, but one that could probably be told by a multitude of corporations who have “promoted the guilty, and prosecuted the innocent.”

Have you got a similar story? Please do not hesitate to send them to me.

Originally published: May 23, 2005

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 © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  INDIVIDUALISM VERSUS TEAMWORK – “There is more to building a team than buying new uniforms.” – Bryce’s Law

LAST TIME:  OUR ATTACHMENT TO AUTOMOBILES  – How we embrace cars into our lives.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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