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Archive for November, 2015

PASSING THE BUCK

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 30, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Don’t make your problems mine.

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

Last month, I suffered through a miserable lunch at a local restaurant, a place where I usually dine and know the owner well. The food and service was fine, but I happened to sit near a young mother and her one year old with a healthy set of lungs. The mother was accompanied by a friend to chat with and catch-up. While they talked, they paid little attention to the one year old in the high stool who was entertaining himself. Every now and then, the toddler would let loose with an ear-piercing shriek, something I think would drive dolphins away for twenty miles near the restaurant. As my back was to them, I was unprepared for the first shriek which caused me to drop my cutlery. When I turned to look, the mother apologized for the sound, but continued talking with her friend.

The second blast caused me to bolt from the restaurant. Realizing I was irritated, the mother made a snide remark to me, “I suppose you never had kids.” I replied I did, the big difference though was I knew how to parent, she obviously did not. The debate went downhill from there. I promised myself I would not eat there again if they’re present.

The real loser in this situation was the owner of the restaurant as the rest of the patrons were doubtlessly offended by the noise, but that wasn’t her concern.

I posted my displeasure on my Facebook page and was surprised how many people came out in my support. I had evidently touched a nerve.

One person said, “kids will be kids.” Maybe, but “parents have to be parents” as well. Back in the day when my kids were toddlers and fussed in a restaurant, I took them outside and sat in the car with them. The hum of the engine would put them to sleep. So I missed a few meals; so what. I would rather do that then upset the other patrons.

Another person pointed out it was the restaurant’s responsibility to handle the problem; telling the parents to either tend to the child or leave. I have talked with the restaurant owner about this on several occasions over the years. Most of the time, it is an awkward situation for him to handle diplomatically. Then again, there are instances where it has become necessary for him to boot out the offending parents and kid, but this is rare.

The point is, the parent was perfectly content to pass her problem along to the other patrons. Her problem became ours, which is obviously inconsiderate of her. I recognize her need to relax and talk to friends, but her first responsibility was to the child, second to the people around her, and third to herself. Her priorities were just the reverse though. She claimed since the child was only a year old, there was nothing she could do. Frankly, she didn’t even try. I contended she simply didn’t want to address the problem, or failed to see it as a problem at all. In other words, she was totally oblivious to the situation. Sadly, such people may know how to reproduce, but they certainly do not know how to parent. They will inevitably raise another generation of narcissistic people.

Babies can also be annoying on airplane trips, particularly if parents do not tend to them. Passengers will be patient up to a point, but if the parents drop the ball, they will likely let the parents know of their displeasure.

There are, of course, parents who are sensitive to the needs of both their child and fellow passengers. A friend told me of a recent flight where he had to sit next to a crying baby. The mother was smart though, and placed the following card on the seats around them prior to the trip:

“Hello! My name is Charlotte and I am 8 months old. This is my first flight and I’ll try to be on my best behavior. I think my Mom is more nervous than I am, so she made a goodie bag for you. Have a great flight!”

The passengers were delighted by the card and goodie bag. In return, they gladly helped the mother tend to the baby. Smart, very smart.

Being a parent means you have to assume certain responsibilities. However, we now live in a time where people are more concerned with entitlements than with responsibility. I contend we shouldn’t pass our problems on to others. Most people have enough trouble of their own. Perhaps the biggest thing I learned from this experience, and the comments made by my Facebook friends, is to take the parents to task and voice your displeasure. It’s not the child’s fault, but somebody has to give the parents a wake-up call.

Related article –

“Making Your Problems Mine” – Aug 30, 2013

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:  ONE WEEK’S MADNESS – What in the world is going on?

LAST TIME:  STUFFING  – a unique family tradition.

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 Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

STUFFING

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 25, 2015

BRYCE ON THANKSGIVING DINNER

– a unique family tradition.

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

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, probably because it has less to do with the marketing madness of Christmas, and more to do with family. Turkey Day has always been a big event in our household. We would get the kids up early to watch the parade on television, prepare the meal, feast, then close our eyes while watching football. In the last few years, we’ve started to invite friends over to the house at noon, which we call “halftime” before the big meals start, at which time we serve up Bloody Marys and cook up deep-fried turkeys for anyone interested (a southern specialty).

As a kid, I loved the white meat of the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and turned my nose up at just about everything else, such as cranberries, string-bean casseroles, pearl onions, beets, sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, even stuffing. Now, of course, I’m a sucker for these delicacies, but to me, I’ve found the real trademark of the Thanksgiving dinner is not the bird but the stuffing instead, something that is unique to each family. In fact, unless it comes from a box, I believe no two families fix stuffing exactly the same, there is always some nuance that differentiates it from family to family.

Some people prefer a corn bread type of stuffing, others like stale day-old white bread or sourdough, some like to add oysters or perhaps sausage, ground beef, even venison. There is also wild rice, apples, raisins, cranberries, etc. I understand there is also an excellent recipe involving White Castle hamburgers I would like to try some day. The list is practically endless and is only limited by your imagination.

Despite the many combinations available to us, when it comes to stuffing, we suddenly become pretty picky about what we eat and loyal to the peculiarities of family recipes. Even the slightest suggestion of changing the stuffing recipe is strongly rebuffed by family members. You would think you were preaching heresy. If you really want to try a different stuffing, you have to either go over to a friend’s house, or cook a turkey some other time and away from prying eyes. The only other food item I can think of that commands such loyalty and devotion is the family’s Chili recipe, but that will be the subject of another article.

Yes, we should be giving thanks during Thanksgiving. Thanks for having the family and friends together, and for a bounty of food to share and enjoy. Thanksgiving is definitely a personal thing which is why it is endearing to me.

But I still hate those damn cranberries.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Originally published: November 25, 2009

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:  PASSING THE BUCK – Don’t make your problems mine.

LAST TIME:  TRUSTING OUR BANKING SYSTEMS  – Do we really trust the banks to manage our money?

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: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

TRUSTING OUR BANKING SYSTEMS

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 23, 2015

BRYCE ON SYSTEMS

– Do we really trust the banks to manage our money?

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

Let me preface my remarks by saying I’ve been involved in the I.T. industry for over 40 years and have seen a lot, particularly banking systems. In the United States I watched mainframe based systems evolve into today’s version where people access their accounts through smart phones and move money around accordingly. These systems are still based on legacy systems which are less than impressive if you study them. Legend has it they are all based on the same program source code from the 1960’s which was modified and patched together to suit local needs. I have found banking overseas has been more stable, innovative, and forward thinking, particularly in Europe and Asia. In fact, the Japanese used our “PRIDE” methodologies to design their latest generation of banking systems which are considered state of the art and ahead of their American counterparts.

With this said, I recently went to my bank to make a deposit. I know most of the tellers there and enjoy a good relationship with them. However, on this occasion there was a new teller who dutifully processed my deposit and upon looking at my account said, “Mr. Bryce I see you are not taking advantage of all of our on-line banking services. Do you want a pin number or a debit card? How about direct deposit and on-line payment of bills?”

I politely declined the offer and said, “No, that won’t be necessary.”

She kept pressing the issue and said, “Don’t you want to know what your up-to-the-minute balance is?” I told her I shouldn’t have a bank account if I didn’t know what was in it. The reality is, I simply do not trust American banking systems based on what I have witnessed over the years.

This got me thinking about today’s on-line banking systems and how people interact with them. I’ve been writing checks and balancing a check book manually for over 40 years. I don’t find it complicated and actually enjoy balancing my check book; it’s good mental gymnastics for me. I particularly like it when I find a bank error. My children though are different and make active use of on-line banking systems. They can’t be bothered with balancing a bank account, they like direct deposit and auto-bill payments, and often use their debit cards. I guess to each their own.

Somehow I’ve always had a problem with allowing others to electronically tap into my bank account and have resisted it for years. I know they have some good security measures over transactions, but I still have an uneasy feeling about allowing others to directly tap into my account. Call me old fashioned.

Another problem is communicating with your financial institution. Recently, my mother had a question about her back account. To solve the problem, she tried calling the local branch office where she was met with voice mail. After saying she spoke English and entering her bank code, she was presented with many options, none of which involved speaking to a human being. This was very frustrating and she had to visit the branch office to solve a simple problem. In other words, she discovered she could no longer speak to a human being on the telephone regarding her finances. Under this scenario, you get the uneasy feeling there is just one person running the whole bank, and probably located in Piscataway, New Jersey. This is very disturbing as we want to trust the people who handle our finances, not a machine.

Actually, I don’t find banking to be very complicated. I probably write 10-15 checks a month and make a couple of deposits. To me, writing a check and updating my register doesn’t require a rocket scientist. True, I have to apply postage to pay my bills by mail, but I see this as a very nominal charge. I also have to visit my bank to make a deposit, but I find this to be a pleasant distraction from work.

I’m sure these on-line banking systems provide some handy services, but I don’t believe in change simply for the sake of change. If this is how I like to operate, what’s wrong with that?

I remember years ago when my grandfather passed away in Buffalo, New York, we went up to help my grandmother tidy up his affairs. My father was rooting around in the basement and found a small box containing quite a sum of money. My Dad confronted his mother with it and said, “Mom, why are you keeping such a large wad of cash laying around?”

“Well Sonny,” she explained, “Don’t forget the banks failed one time (a reference to the Great Depression), and they can fail again.”

I guess I feel somewhat the same way and basically don’t trust on-line banking systems. Even though I’ve been intimate with banking systems for a long time, I’ll probably be the last person to make use of them.

Yea, I know what you’re saying, “This guy is out of step with the times.”

Maybe, but I also know what’s in my bank account and know how to pay my bills on time. Like I said, call me “old fashioned.”

Parts of this column was originally published on October 12, 2007.

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:  STUFFING – a unique family tradition.

LAST TIME:  REINVENTING THE WHEEL  – And why we should avoid doing so.

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, Systems, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

REINVENTING THE WHEEL

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 20, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– And why we should avoid doing so.

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

I’m a big believer or reusing things, particularly if I know something has already proven itself to be a viable solution. As a small example, I maintain a library of templates for such things as word processing and desktop publishing documents, web pages, and simple data base designs. I select a template, and then fine tune it until I get what I want. I find this saves me a lot of time as opposed to developing something from scratch. If I find something else useful along the way, I add it to my library. In the systems world, I have always advocated the sharing and reusing of information resources, such as data and processing components, which I often refer to as “building blocks” for developing systems. It’s just a smarter way of operating and, frankly, I don’t like to reinvent the wheel with every project I’m working on. Instead, I want to get the job done. If that means reusing something, so be it, regardless of its age; if it works, it works.

I’m not much of a proponent of “throwing the baby out with the bath water,” but I know a lot of people who are just the antithesis of this and are constantly reinventing the wheel. I don’t know why this is, but I suspect it probably has something to do with human ego. It’s kind of like someone saying, “Well, if I didn’t think of it, it can’t be any good and I’ll go and invent one myself.” We saw this for years when we sold our “PRIDE” methodology for systems design. We met several people who thought our methodology was nice, but thought they could do it better themselves and invested thousands of dollars trying to reinvent our wheel. Inevitably, such undertakings ended up as disasters and we sold them our product in the end. I always marveled at the amount of time and money these companies wasted in the process though; all because of ego.

Years ago General Motors took some heat for slipping a Pontiac engine into an Oldsmobile chassis. People thought they were getting gypped by getting a “cheap” engine. To me, I thought GM was brilliant. Here we had a company who designed products with interchangeable parts in mind. This allowed them to reduce inventory overhead, integrate their product lines, and still produce quality products less expensively. And I can tell you, there is nothing “cheap” about a Pontiac engine. Nonetheless, the public didn’t see it this way.

In the systems world, I think you would be surprised to see how much computer software is thrown out with each release of a product. Instead of reusing program code, a lot of companies simply reinvent the wheel with each release. I find this rather strange and a huge waste of money. Maybe it’s because people don’t know how to share and reuse component parts; either that or they simply don’t want to. Either way, the human tendency to avoid sharing and reusing anything, and reinventing the wheel each go around, leads to increased development costs, which, of course, is inflationary.

Another reason for not sharing is I believe we no longer have a sense of history anymore. We do not study what worked or what didn’t years ago, we are only interested in the present. Consequently, this leads people into reinventing a wheel that was invented some time ago.

There have been plenty of tools introduced over the years for standardizing and sharing components; everything from Bill of Material Processors (BOMP) in the manufacturing sector, to Repositories in the I.T. field. You can find such tools in just about every field of endeavor. The technology is certainly available to share and reuse components, but the desire and discipline to do so is not. I can tell you this, sharing and reusing things doesn’t happen by itself. It requires a concerted management effort to make it happen. However, if management is oblivious to the problem and doesn’t care about the amount of money they waste year after year, then I guess we will be “reinventing the wheel” for a long time to come.

Originally published: October 29, 2007

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:  TRUSTING OUR BANKING SYSTEMS – Do we really trust the banks to manage our money?

LAST TIME:  THE EFFECT OF SOCIAL NETWORKING  – Two studies reinforce our suspicions.

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: , , , , | 1 Comment »

BLACK NOVEMBER

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 19, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE & DEATH

– It’s been a bad month.

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

This has been a strange month. Quite a few of my friends have lost loved-ones this month. In particular, two lost grand daughters, another lost a mother, another a father, and a Masonic brother. I cannot begin to imagine their pain, particularly those losing young ones, but they seem to be resilient and quietly bear their grief. Another friend is about to lose his wife of nearly fifty years of marriage due to cancer. She was a great woman from Scotland and a good friend. The interesting thing is all these deaths have all come rather suddenly during the month of November. It seems such deaths come in cycles as I’ve heard of no other deaths this year. Then there are the recent deaths in Paris incurred by Islamic terrorists which none of us truly understand. I guess when it rains it pours. Losing a loved-one is a sort of right of passage, something we must all suffer through. We generally expect our elders to pass before us, but not our offspring or grandchildren. I tend to believe it takes a little something out of us spiritually when this happens. All we can do is just take it, and hope we have family and friends to support us.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we will miss the smiling faces of our loved-ones around the dinner table. It would be sad if we forgot them, which is why I devised the following grace some time ago, titled, “A Thanksgiving Moment”:

“Let us enjoy the moment, cherish the moment, remember the moment.

Let us first remember those moments where we shared many a story, a joke and debate, with those loved ones at this very table, those who have gone on before us, yet we fondly remember.

Let us now take a moment and make our own mental photograph of every person at this table, what was said, what we looked like, what we ate, and the love in our hearts.

Let us remember this moment, let us cherish this moment, let us give thanks for this moment, as time slips silently away.

Amen.”

I know it will be difficult for those of you who recently lost a friend or family member, but try to have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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.

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 Life | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

THE EFFECT OF SOCIAL NETWORKING

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 18, 2015

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Two studies reinforce our suspicions.

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

As most of you know, I have been monitoring the effects of technology on people for quite some time and blame it for a lot of our problems, particularly the decline of social skills and the rise of violent behavior. I have read many studies on the subject, the latest of which comes from the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan American think tank and polling organization located in Washington, D.C. Two of their studies recently caught my attention, “Teens, Technology and Friendships” (Aug 6, 2015), and “Social Media Usage: 2005-2015” (Oct 8th, 2015). Both studies were concerned with the effect of Internet social networking tools, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and many others. Frankly, there is nothing startling in the studies, but they reenforce what we have suspected for a long time, namely our growing addiction to technology.

Although the studies considered all age groups, they found significant changes in teenagers (ages 13-17). According to the “Friendship” study, “Fully 57% of teens ages 13 to 17 have made a new friend online, with 29% of teens indicating that they have made more than five new friends in online venues.” They also pointed out boys are more likely to make friends on-line than girls, thanks in large part to Internet based games.

Prior to the advent of personal technology, children made friends in person, either on the playground or ball fields, or in the school yard or classroom. According to the survey, this has changed radically, “Just 25% of teens spend time with friends in person (outside of school) on a daily basis.” I would like to believe this is caused by study habits, but I know personal technology is the culprit here.

Although 65% of American adults use social media, 90% of young adults do so regularly. Further revealing is the fact that higher income households lead the way in using social media as opposed to people in rural areas.

The lesson derived from the two studies should be obvious; we either cannot function without personal technology or prefer communicating through machines as opposed to human contact. Either way, it means our addiction is growing and our socialization skills are diminishing. Like I said, we shouldn’t be surprised by all this, but we should remain vigilant particularly as it applies to our children and grandchildren. Perhaps it is time to devise rules and conditions for the use of technology. For example, years ago it wasn’t uncommon in a household for parents to set rules for watching television, such as after homework or chores were completed. Now I think it is time for something stricter.

Related articles:

“Technology’s Effect on Society” – June 24, 2015
“Bed Bugs & Our Changing World” – June 1, 2015
“Honest Debate (or the lack thereof)” – October 13, 2014
“More Evidence of Technology Addiction” – April 23, 2014
“Let’s Sit Down and Talk” – March 5, 2014
“Our Smartphone Addiction” – September 13, 2013
“How Technology Affects Our Youth” – December 4, 2011
“Is Personal Technology a Drug?” – June 18, 2011
“The Digital Pandemic” – March 17, 2010
“Show Me the Proof” – June 5, 2009
“The Adverse Effects of Technology” – Jul 09, 2007

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:  REINVENTING THE WHEEL – And why we should avoid doing so.

LAST TIME:  DEMOCRATIC MANAGEMENT?  – Look carefully before you leap into “Holacracy.”

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 Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

DEMOCRATIC MANAGEMENT?

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 16, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Look carefully before you leap into “Holacracy.”

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

The October 2015 issue of “The Atlantic” magazine featured an article asking the management question, “Are Bosses Necessary?” In it, they present a concept called “holacracy” which, in a nutshell, calls for the elimination of middle management and a more democratic form of government in business. In essence, a company consists of nothing but senior management and the workers organized into teams or “circles.” The term is based on the word “holarchy,” representing a connection between holons – where a holon is both a part and a whole. The term was coined in Arthur Koestler’s 1967 book, “The Ghost in the Machine.” (source: Wikipedia)

Similar approaches surface every ten years or so, all with little success, but this appears to be a more overt push for change.

To illustrate how “holacracy” works, the article referenced Zappos, the young Internet based shoe and clothing store headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com. The company has over $1billion in revenues and employs +1,500 workers. According to the article, this past spring, CEO Tony Hsieh, embraced “holacracy” by eliminating middle management, job titles and organization charts, and devised a 10,000 word constitution for self-governance. Instead of management directing activity, employees join “circles” where they determine priorities and project assignments. In essence, “holacracy” empowers employees by creating a democratic society within a business. Allegedly, this approach is derived from “Agile” programming, a quick and dirty approach for building software.

Results are mixed thus far. According to the article, Zappos employees have met the new approach, “with everything from cautious embrace to outright revulsion.” Without middle management, there is little in terms of decisive leadership and teamwork. Instead, it is hoped leaders will emerge among the circles along with a spirit of cooperation. So far, the jury is still out.

I’m not sure the developers of “holacracy” truly understand the concept of democracy. A true democracy doesn’t work effectively in government and ultimately represents mob rule. This is why America is a Republic, with democratically elected representatives to serve the interests of the people. The management of the government is entrusted into these representatives. One has to wonder, if democracy doesn’t work in government, why would we kid ourselves into believing it will work in business? The point is, it doesn’t.

The “holacracy” approach is a knee-jerk reaction to overcoming Theory X “micromanagement,” a very dehumanizing form of management which, unfortunately, is still popular in corporate America today. Basically, it represents autocratic rule which tends to inhibit employee creativity and stifles worker responsibility. Unfortunately, instead of using other proven management techniques, the promoters of “holacracy” are essentially throwing the baby out with the bath water.

The obvious alternative to Theory X is Theory Y, whereby a company manages from the bottom-up as opposed to top-down. Under Theory Y, workers are treated like professionals, are delegated responsibility, and held accountable for their actions. A management hierarchy is still maintained to allocate resources and assignments, control the corporate culture and expedite problems, thereby providing a sense of direction and promoting teamwork. However, unlike Theory X, workers are empowered to execute assignments on their own, and report to management on progress and notify them of problems. This approach encourages worker participation and promotes a sense of project ownership.

Then there is Theory Z as developed by Dr. William Ouchi (UCLA) based on the study of Japanese businesses during the 1970’s. Ouchi observed higher productivity because Japanese society encourages mutual trust and cooperation between management and workers. Making a decision normally takes longer due to the need to achieve “consensus” from all parties involved. However, when a decision is reached, it is quickly implemented as all parties have agreed to it.

Interestingly, Theories Y and Z are not new, having been used since the 1930’s (Theory Y) and 1970’s (Theory Z). However, over the last twenty years there has been a movement to ignore worker’s feelings and institute stringent management control and bureaucratic regulations (“micromanagement”). In other words, companies have gone too far towards autocratic rule, with radical techniques such as “holacracy” emerging to take its place.

Personally, I believe Zappos is on a dangerous and reckless path. It is no small wonder the employees are nervous about it. It may also cause investors to think twice about gambling on the company. I, for one, will certainly not be investing in it, as I consider this a pseudo-scientific approach devised by naive people. Their intentions may be good, but their delivery will be catastrophic.

Related articles:

Theories X, Y, and Z – Nov 03, 2014
Managing from the Bottom-Up – Jul 16, 2012
Pseudo-Scientific Management – Aug 10, 2011

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 EFFECT OF SOCIAL NETWORKING – Two studies reinforce our suspicions.

LAST TIME:  FALLING INTO A RUT  – Getting out is a lot harder than getting in.

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: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

FALLING INTO A RUT

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 13, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Getting out is a lot harder than getting in.

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

I wore shorts to work the other day. Yea, I know, I’m the guy that says we should spruce up our image at work, but I did this to revolt against the rut I’ve gotten into in the morning (plus it was a Friday and I knew I wouldn’t be running into anybody). Like a lot of guys, when I get up, I have a light breakfast, scan the newspaper, shave, shower, get dressed for the day, and drive to work. It is all very boring and repetitive and frankly, I think I finally blew a fuse.

It’s easy to get into a rut regardless if you are a man or a woman. Whether you call it a rut or “writer’s block,” the danger is that you become stale and complacent and don’t think clearly. This is when productivity in the office is threatened by laziness and lack of concentration. I think this is why the vacation was invented, so that a change of scenery will perhaps reinvigorate us. It pays to try and ride a different horse now and then.

Office managers should also be wary of workers falling into a rut. We may not be able to send them on an all expense-paid trip to Aruba, but we can do other things, such as reorganizing the furniture, adding a touch of paint here and there, adjusting the lighting and sound, introducing some new office equipment, etc. In other words, something for the workers to take note of and react to.

In order to get your workers out of a rut, you have to do something that stimulates their five senses and intellect, perhaps a new type of assignment or job. If left unchecked, the tedium of a monotonous working environment will eventually drive away your employees, even the best of them.

I had an occasion to visit a Sony factory in Japan years ago. While there, I observed an assembly line where the various workers built television sets. Each workstation had its own set of responsibilities for adding components and checking the work that preceded them on the line. However, on the hour, a whistle would blow, whereby the workers would back away from the workstations and perform some simple calisthenics to relieve the monotony. If that wasn’t enough, each worker then rotated to the next workstation in the line where the work resumed. This made each worker cognizant of all of the steps needed to assemble the television set, as well as to promote the development of a quality product. I found this routine to be a simple yet effective approach for combating tedium.

You also find managers who promote end of week parties in the workplace or perhaps hold special training sessions to develop skills. However, I tend to believe the best solutions are the simple ones, such as the Sony example. I don’t normally recommend wearing shorts to work as a way to combat repetition, particularly if customers are going to be around. Instead, just pay a little more attention to the five senses of your workers. It can work miracles.

Originally published: July 14, 2008

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:  DEMOCRATIC MANAGEMENT? – Look carefully before you leap into “Holacracy.”

LAST TIME:  ACADEMIC QUACKS  – “Theorists” versus “Practicals.”

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: , , , , | 1 Comment »

TIN HEADS – EPISODE 2 – “THE FINAL SALUTE”

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 11, 2015

As this is Veterans Day, I thought I would release a chapter from my “TIN HEADS” book I produced a few years ago. I hope you enjoy it.

“THE FINAL SALUTE”

“Tin Head” – slang expression for the TN-2020 Personal Drone developed by TN Industries, San Jose, California. A “dumb” robot resembling human form with special sensors enabling humans to visit remote locations without having to leave their home location. Unit is distinguished by its domed head, hence the nickname.

James “Bum” Sanders strolled down to the local barber shop for his weekly haircut, cane in hand. He didn’t like carrying the cane but his daughter insisted he use it to balance himself as he was now 102 years young, although he certainly didn’t feel like it. He made the trip to the barber shop once a week in his hometown of Cleveland, Tennessee not because he needed a haircut, he actually had little left on his head, but to kibitz with “Big Al” Smith, the shop’s proprietor, as well as the other visiting patrons.

As Bum walked into the shop he was warmly greeted by everyone as he was well known. Bum was a bit of an institution in the Cleveland area and had run a transmission repair shop for a number of years until he was forced to sell it and retire in his 90’s. He was also active in several civic, fraternal and veterans groups so it was no small wonder just about everyone in town knew him. He was best known though for organizing and managing the Memorial Day service at the cemetery in the Spring, and the local Veterans Day parade in the Fall. As a World War II veteran, these were very important events to him and he insisted they be commemorated with dignity and grace. His signature though was a crisp salute he would give at the end of each service, followed by the words “Semper Fi” to honor his fallen Marine brothers.

During the War, Bum served in the 5th Marine Division which invaded Iwo Jima in 1945. His nickname “Bum” was derived from a wound he suffered in his posterior by a Japanese marksman. Other than this, little was known about Bum’s activities on the island as he was intensely private about the matter, not just to strangers, but to friends and family as well. Nonetheless, rarely did a day go by that Bum did not think of the horrors of war he suffered on Iwo, his friends and comrades he lost, and the enemy soldiers he killed. While on the island, he was assigned flame thrower duty to root out Japanese hidden in the caves and tunnels around Mount Suribachi. Their screams haunted him for many years, something he could not forget, and explained why he refused to talk about it. He served his country honorably, but was acutely aware of the brutalities of war.

Bum found his usual chair in the barber shop and began to chat with Big Al. He didn’t recognize the customer whose hair Big Al was cutting and inquired, “You new around here son?”

“Yes, just moved into the area from Chattanooga. The name is Jeffries, Sam Jeffries.”

“Pleased to meet you,” replied Bum, “It’s good to have another leatherneck in the area.”

Jeffries looked surprised, “How did you know?”

“Not too difficult,” began Bum, “The way you sit at attention in the chair, the crisp press of your clothes, the polish on your shoes, and that jarhead haircut Big Al is giving you. In fact, I would wager that ring you’re wearing bears an eagle, globe and anchor insignia.”

Jeffries laughed, “You got me, you’ve got a pretty good eye sir, and you are…?”

“Bum Sanders my brother; Corporal, USMC, Iwo Jima, 1945,” he snapped, “Welcome to the area.” And he rose to shake the man’s hand. “What brings you around to these parts?”

“I’m opening a new Tin Head franchise here in Cleveland.” Jeffries replied.

“Tin Head? What the heck is that?”

The rest of the people in the barber shop chuckled at Bum’s ignorance as just about everyone knew of the popular Tin Head program. In his defense though, Bum had lost interest in the news a few years ago and, like a lot of senior citizens, tended to avoid new technology.

“It’s something new that allows a person to visit just about anywhere on the planet,” and he gave Bum a brief description of the Tin Head program.

Bum listened intently but asked few questions. He had never heard of such a device before, but the more the man spoke about it, the more absurd the notion seemed to him.

As Jeffries finished his haircut, he produced a business card and said to Bum, “Tell you what; we’re planning on opening the store next week. Give me a call and I would be happy to give you a personal tour.”

Bum thanked him for the courtesy, slipped the card into his shirt pocket, and quickly forgot about it.

Bum still lived at home, much to the concern of his children who worried about his well-being, but he had always been stubbornly independent and remained so after surviving not just one wife, but two. His children were grandparents in their own right and beginning to slow down themselves. At age 102 Bum was still relatively fit and alert, but he worried about losing his health and memory as many seniors do. He still tended to his yard, but finally acquiesced mowing the lawn just a couple of years ago to his great-grandchildren who he would pay generously. When he wasn’t working in the yard, Bum could be found rocking in a favorite chair on his front porch where he would often talk to neighbors walking past his house.

As he settled into his chair, he thought about the Marine he had met earlier before slipping off to a short nap. His encounter with Jeffries caused him to dream about Iwo Jima… Even though he had suffered a shot to his derrière, doctors had been able to patch him together so he could return to duty with his flame thrower, a dangerous occupation with a high mortality rate. Somehow Bum found a way to not only survive, but became quite proficient in clearing the caves and tunnels on the island. If he didn’t burn his victims to death, the flame would suck the oxygen out of the enclosure and suffocate them.

His dream became clearer as he found himself with his Marine squad on the island. It was nighttime and the battle for the island was coming to a close. Despite this, the soldiers were told to beware of desperate Japanese counter attacks. The moon was almost full which provided minimal light to detect motion. Half of Bum’s squad stayed alert while the other half slept. Bum kept checking the forward positions but saw nothing. He then thought his eyes were beginning to play tricks on him and he rubbed them. Had he seen a shadow move or was it his imagination? Squinting to get a better look, Yes, something was moving out there, but what? He shot a flare into the air only to see hundreds of Japanese poised at the edge of the American lines ready to attack. As the flare lit the sky, the Japanese shouted “Banzai!” and lunged forward to attack the American position.

Bum suddenly found himself surrounded by Japanese engaged in hand-to-hand combat. One by one, he watched his squad decimated by the attack. Before he could reach for his weapon he found himself fighting with a Japanese in his foxhole. The attack was savage and even though he fought well, he suddenly felt the pain of a sword slicing into his side. Reaching for his bayonet, he turned to face his attacker and lunged the blade into him. Bum slumped over as he saw fellow Marines respond and scuttle the Japanese charge. “At last, I can rest, I can rest…”

Bum awoke rubbing his side where he thought he had been stabbed. An unfamiliar sharp pain shot through him causing him to sit up. Something was wrong and he called his daughter who lived nearby to take him to see his physician, Dr. Ferguson.

After a preliminary examination, Dr. Ferguson had Bum admitted into the hospital for further tests. The results confirmed the doctor’s suspicions; Bum’s kidneys had become cancerous and would begin to shut down soon. Offhand, doctors would operate for such a condition and the patient would either end up on dialysis or undergo a kidney transplant, but due to Bum’s age and constitution it would be unlikely he would survive either scenario. It began to become painfully obvious to Bum that the end was near.

Word spread quickly around town that Bum was in trouble, including the commander at his VFW post, Charlie Simpson, who visited Ferguson in his office. “Doc, we’ve been old friends for a number of years right? I’m sure you know how important Bum Sanders is to the people of this community. I know he’s old, but we have to do anything we can to help this man as I’m sure he would fight for any one of us.”

“Yes, Bum is a great guy,” Ferguson said, “but he cannot survive an operation and I don’t want to be the one responsible for shortening his life.”

“Doc,” Simpson said, “I’m not sure you aware of this but I’ve been informed by the V.A. that Bum is the last survivor of Iwo Jima.”

“Really? You’re kidding me aren’t you?”

“No. They’re all gone…except Bum. We really need to do something special for him.”

“Have you got something in mind?”

Simpson opened the door and said, “Sam, could you come in here?”

The same Sam Jeffries who met Bum just last week in the barber shop walked into the room and was introduced to Ferguson.

“Sam, tell the doctor what you have got in mind.”

“I’m the manager of the new Tin Head franchise here in town,” Jeffries began, “and I happened to hear about Bum’s problem. I also heard from Charlie how important Bum is to the community and that he is the last survivor of Iwo Jima. I’m a Marine myself, and the battle for Iwo Jima was an important chapter in our history, and I’m sure to Bum.”

“In all the years I’ve known Bum,” Ferguson said, “I knew he survived Iwo but he never liked to talk about it.”

“Well we talked to Bum about the idea,” continued Sam, “and he would like to visit Iwo one last time before he checks out.”

“No way, impossible,” countered Ferguson, “he could never survive such a long trip.”

“Maybe not in person,” said Sam, “but how about through a Tin Head?”

Dr. Ferguson stopped in his tracks. He had never considered this.

“Doctor, you’ve been in a Tin Head before haven’t you?”

“Yes. I was surprised how easy it was to use.”

“Do you think Bum is strong enough to operate a Home unit?” Sam asked.

“I’m not sure. Don’t tell me you’ve got a Tin Head franchise on Iwo Jima, do you?”

“No, but the Navy has plenty of units and I have some contacts which could enable Bum to use a Tin Head on Iwo Jima. Since the 1980’s. the Navy has a program whereby veterans and family members once a year are allowed to visit the island. Over the years though, their numbers have understandably dwindled. Now we’re down to just Bum, and in talking to my contacts, they would be happy to arrange a Tin Head for him, but we would have to confirm this soon as they will be visiting the island in two weeks.”

“That’s an awfully tight window we’re looking at,” said Ferguson, “frankly, I’m not sure he can last that long.”

“Doctor,” pleaded Simpson, “give the man a chance.”

Ferguson paced the office and contemplated the options. “If Bum Sanders wants to take a shot at it, who am I to deny the last Marine of Iwo Jima?”

Bum Sanders still had a problem understanding what exactly a Tin Head was, but after much encouragement from Sam Jeffries and Charlie Simpson, he agreed to give it a try. He was growing tired and weaker with each passing day though. So much so, Jeffries decided to accompany Bum on the trip and assist him if necessary. Fortunately, the Navy was able to accommodate his request and made two Tin Head suits available for the visit.

Sam had to spend a number of hours with Bum explaining the Tin Head’s capabilities and features. As these were to be military issued Tin Heads, Sam explained the suits had greater strength and dexterity which would greatly help Bum who was still in a weakened condition.

As the day of his trip began, Bum Sanders became a celebrity. Charlie Simpson leaked the story to the press and the media was on hand as Bum left the hospital for Sam’s store. The media attention actually helped to raise Bum’s confidence and strength as he was flattered by the attention. He stopped to answer a few questions from reporters:

“Mr. Sanders, when was the last time you were on Iwo Jima?”

“1945; I was with the Marines and I can assure you it wasn’t a pleasure trip.”

“What do you hope to see there today?”

Bum mulled the question over before answering, “I’m not sure, perhaps some old friends and a few old enemies.”

They wished him luck and Jeffries whisked him off to his store where a team of his assistants awaited them. After they arrived, Sam showed the “Home” unit to Bum and reviewed its operations. “Bum, do you think you can handle it?”

“I’ll give it my best shot,” he said, but he was already feeling weak from the short trip to the store.

Dr. Ferguson was on hand to observe the proceedings and was on standby should anything go wrong.

Sam’s assistants helped Bum into the suit which looked like a strange space suit cut in half. The suit was applied by having the person sit in the back portion. A machine suspended from the ceiling held the front portion which was slowly eased on top of the person and pressed together with special snaps thereby forming a single suit. The machine then raised the human subject and suspended him in midair to afford him the mobility he needed to move around.

“Equipment check, Bum, can you hear me?” asked Sam.

“Yes, I hear you fine Sam.”

“Okay, my staff is going to insert our identity cards, program our trip and make contact with the Navy on Iwo. Your screens, audio, and other sensors will come on when the Tin Heads go live. Are you ready?”

“I guess so, as ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Okay, beginning countdown…10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…”

Bum and Sam awoke on the black beaches of Iwo Jima. It was a sunny day and Bum could hear and smell the salt water behind him and turned to look at it.

“Bum, are you okay?” asked Sam as he approached him on the beach.

“Yes, fine…. This is unbelievable,” he replied haltingly.

Back in Cleveland, the Tin Head franchise had setup screens in a sequestered room in the store for Bum’s family, close friends and Dr. Ferguson to watch through the cameras mounted on his Tin Head.

Bum was startled by the clarity of what he could see, the vividness of the sounds, and the smell.

“Excuse me, Mister Sanders and Jeffries?” asked a Marine Lieutenant.

“Yes?” they said in unison.

“I’m Lt. Rice, welcome to Iwo Jima or ‘Iwo To’ as the Japanese call it. Thank you for coming. Is your equipment working properly?”

“Yes, everything seems fine,” they said.

“Then if you’re ready, I would like to take you to my Colonel who is waiting for us further down the beach,” Rice said.

“If you don’t mind Lieutenant,” Bum said, “Can I walk the beach a bit? It’s been a long time since I was here last.”

“Certainly, take your time, I know what this means to you,” and he walked ahead to meet his Colonel.

Bum was exhilarated by his Tin Head. He found he could move as easily as if he were a young man again. After coming to grips with his new physical freedom, he began to appreciate where he was.

He turned to Sam and pointed down the beach, “We landed down there in the southeast and were charged with taking Mount Suribachi. I was just eighteen years old. We were just kids.” And Bum was flooded by memories.

Bum and Sam continued their walk down the beach. Bum explained troop movements during the battle and Sam quietly listened to his friend. The two finally caught up with Lt. Rice and his Colonel who warmly greeted them.

“Mister Sanders, I’m Colonel Benson, welcome back to Iwo Jima. It’s a pleasure having you here today and an honor for us to host you as the last surviving Marine. Mister Jeffries I also want to welcome you and thank you for helping to set this up. What we would like to do is give you a brief tour of the island before we go up Mount Suribachi and visit the Reunion of Honor.”

The Reunion of Honor was started in 1985 and represented a pilgrimage of battle veterans from both sides, Japanese and American. It was held on the summit of Mount Suribachi where a monument was constructed at the spot where Marines raised the American flag. The reunions had stopped three years earlier when it was falsely assumed all the survivors had finally died.

“Mister Sanders,” asked the Colonel, “We’re going to use this vehicle to give you a tour of the island. Is there a particular spot you would like to see?”

“Not offhand, but if I see something, can I ask you to stop?”

“Certainly. Shall we go?”

The party got into the military vehicle, an old Hummer which still ran remarkably well and looked in good condition. Beginning with a general orientation at the current air base operated by the Japanese, the group visited the two abandoned airfields captured during the battle. Bum’s mind began to fill with memories as he recalled how the Marines sliced the island in two. Visions of fallen brothers flashed through his mind’s eye causing his head to suddenly twitch as he recalled one tragedy after another.

After the airfields, the group headed for Mount Suribachi. As the Hummer began to climb the road to the summit, Bum suddenly asked Lt. Rice to stop the truck.

“Sam, help me out will you; I’m getting tired but I must see this,” said Bum.

The group exited the vehicle and stood facing the foot of Mount Suribachi. Sensing Bum’s weakness, Sam kept an arm on Bum to balance him. Bum grew quiet; he had been here before.

“It was here where I was shot,” Bum said as he gazed into the general direction where he imagined the sniper had pulled the trigger.

He then pointed up the hill, “It was over there where I cleaned out the caves with my flame throw,” and he could hear the roar of fire and screams of his victims.

“And it was just about 100 yards over there where we repelled the final Japanese banzai charge. It was nighttime, but if it hadn’t been for the moonlight, they would have completely taken us by surprise and I wouldn’t be standing here with you.”

Bum could see the charge vividly; his shooting of the flare, the hand-to-hand combat, and the soldier he fought in the fox hole. The Japanese soldier appeared to be an officer even though he couldn’t recognize his rank or decorations. He was approximately the same size as Bum whom he charged with a sword. His face was an interesting combination of determination and terror, just plain crazy it seemed to Bum. The officer fought ferociously, but Bum was in better condition and more athletic. In the end, the officer succumbed to Bum’s bayonet. The surprised look on the officer’s face as life drained from his body was indelibly impressed upon Bum, something he couldn’t erase from his memory; something that had haunted him for years. He died valiantly though, a soldier’s death.

“Thank you gentlemen, we can go now. Sam please help me get back in the car, I’m weak.”

Back at the “Home” unit in Tennessee, Ferguson and Bum’s daughter were monitoring Bum’s vitals which were dropping noticeably. So much so, he was forced to call the two through the Tin Head communications channel.

“Sam, this is Dr. Ferguson, can you read me?”

“Yes, we copy just fine. What’s up?”

“Bum’s vital signs are dropping dangerously low. We’re going to have to call this off and get him back to the hospital.”

“No, don’t stop it,” insisted Bum, “I’ve waited too long for this. I must see it to the end.”

“But your family is worried about you Bum.”

“Worried about what? I’ve spent most of my life worrying about everyone else, now it’s finally my turn to worry about myself. I must see this to completion. Whatever you do, I beg of you not to stop this. I relieve all of you of responsibility.”

Reluctantly, Ferguson and Bum’s family acquiesced to his wishes. All they could do now was watch the images he was transmitting back from his “Remote” unit.

The Hummer slowly made its way up to the summit of Mount Suribachi. Upon arrival, Bum climbed out with Sam’s assistance. Despite the strength and durability of the suit, Sam could feel Bum’s weakness.

From the top of Suribachi, Bum could see the overall island. He could see where the ships had been when they pummeled Iwo with shells as a prelude to the invasion, he could see the black beaches where the troops landed, the air fields that were captured, and the caves below.

Here, atop Suribachi was the memorial he had longed to see. It commemorated the battle with two monuments, one side for the Japanese, and the other for the Americans. It wasn’t a massive memorial but it was still very dignified and marked the spot where the Americans had raised the flag denoting the capture of the island.

The group helped Bum over to the American side first where Sam read the inscription to him. They then walked him to the Japanese side. Although it was windy at the summit, Bum appreciated the quiet dignity of the memorial. He was finding peace.

“Please, take me back to the American side.”

They slowly walked him back over to the American monument. He could hear the ocean below, feel the wind, and smell the salt water.

“Please, leave me for a moment, there is something I have to do myself,” and they did so reluctantly.

Bum studied the words on the plaques for a few moments. Then, mustering what little strength he had left, he stood at attention and saluted the monument with his customary crispness. “Semper Fi” he whispered.

He then turned to pay homage to his Japanese adversaries. As he turned towards the Japanese monument, he was suddenly face-to-face with a Japanese officer in full uniform; the same Japanese officer he had fought to the death in his fox hole years ago. The soldier was emotionless and didn’t speak, but snapped a salute to Bum and awaited the return. Bum was stunned. The soldier was impeccably dressed and, by the uniform, Bum could tell he held the rank of captain. The Japanese stood unwavering at attention, still waiting. Bum then drew himself up to attention and returned a crisp salute. As he dropped his arm, he suddenly realized he was surrounded by his squad in Marine dress uniforms quietly lined up behind him. Bum looked confused. He then looked back to the Japanese captain who was now standing with three rows of his soldiers behind him in dress uniform.

Bum’s sergeant then barked, “Attention. Present arms.”

The Japanese captain replied in kind in his native tongue.

Then, one last time, Bum snapped off a salute to his former adversary who returned the salute and slowly smiled at him. The last warrior of Iwo Jima was finally home.

At first, Sam Jeffries, Colonel Benson and Lt. Rice didn’t realize what had happened, nor did Charlie Simpson, Doctor Ferguson, or Bum’s daughter, who had watched the screens from afar; they all just saw Bum standing motionless at attention in his Navy Tin Head saluting the American monument. It was only then, that Ferguson noticed Bum’s vital signs had plummeted. By the time they opened the “home” unit suit, they found a tired old man with his arm at salute and a tear on his face.

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 © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

ACADEMIC QUACKS

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 11, 2015

BRYCE ON ACADEMIA

– “Theorists” versus “Practicals.”

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

I have met a lot of college professors in my lifetime, be it when I went to school, when I lectured on systems, or in various discussion groups on the Internet. From my perspective, they fit into two categories:

1. Practical people teaching proven concepts, as in engineering, chemistry, history, math, and English.

2. Theorists who invent a bunch of gobbledygook offering no practical use. I have found such people in sociology, political science, management, and very prevalent in information technology.

I have found the “Practicals” to be more interesting as they are more confident of their subject matter and are excited about communicating their body of knowledge to their students. To me, they are down to earth people who are practical in nature and willing to assist you any way possible. They are the type of people you would like to share a beer with and talk shop.

The “Theorists” are entirely different. Their world is based on observations and evidence, but no concrete proof, hence they lack the confidence of the “Practicals.” Instead, their world revolves around argument, which can be quite loud and vehement at times. Their bravado in discourse is based on their lack of confidence. Some people refer to them as pseudo-intellectuals, others as academic quacks. It is like they have got a bolt lose somewhere but don’t know how to tighten it. When I listen to them I get the uneasy feeling I should be holding my wallet. Rarely have I seen the “Theorists” produce anything practical for use, which is why many of them can best be described as “humbug.”

I do not have a problem with professors teaching proven concepts; but I do have a problem when they try to disguise their ideas as gospel. In the process, they invent a junk vocabulary intended more to confuse you than to prove their point. They are also content doing small things in the hopes of it leading to something bigger. When I listen to the Theorists, I am somehow reminded of the expression, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin.” In other words, much ado about nothing.

It is one thing to theorize something, selling the concept to earn a livelihood is quite another. Most of the Theorists would likely starve without the backing of the college or university. As for me, I tend to believe in the old English proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” It has been my experience the effective techniques used in management and information systems were derived from legitimate business needs. For example, our “PRIDE”-Information Systems Engineering Methodology (ISEM) was created to satisfy the need to build integrated enterprise-wide systems resulting from the “Management Information Systems” (MIS) movement of the 1960’s.

There have been many other offerings developed over the years to expedite systems development, but we took a scientific approach to the problem and defined our terminology and principles. The fact it still works after +40 years means it has stood the test of time.

In the end, the real test of whether you perceive someone as a “Practical” or a “Theorist” is whether you would enjoy a beer with them or not. As for me, I have developed a taste for Stella Artois, but I’ll drink just about anything ice cold.

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

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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