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Archive for January, 2018

THIS IS WAR!

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 31, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Anyone expecting a peaceful mid-term election is taking it in the arm.

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

The 2018 Congressional midterm elections will be bloody. As usual the GOP is naive regarding political campaigning and underestimates the ferocity of the Democrats. Let’s first understand what is at stake here. The Democrats suffered a severe blow by losing the 2016 elections. Because of this, 2018 represents a make or break year for the progressive/liberal agenda. If they fail to retake Congress, in either chamber, the Democratic Party will be unable to stop President Trump in 2020 and will likely go into a tailspin searching for new leadership. As such, they are desperate for a victory and will go to any length to achieve one, whether it is legal or not. In desperation, the left and their news media lapdogs will undoubtedly be pulling out all the stops. This includes misleading the public, character assassination, lying and deceit, violating voter laws, intimidation, etc. No, they will certainly not be playing fair; they are at war.

Their hatred of President Trump is nothing more than a campaign tactic. This is why they will never find anything positive to say about the president and refuses to cooperate with him. By doing so, they create a diametrically opposing view of reality which is reported to the public in the hopes it will be construed the president is an utter failure. To illustrate, the Left adamantly contends the president is a racist, yet there is no evidence to this effect in his personal, corporate, and presidential lives. He has made generous donations to minority organizations and his economic policies have benefited Blacks and Latinos, particularly in generating jobs and getting them off of welfare. Yet he is labeled a “racist.”

His recent Tax Reform legislation benefits both corporations and all classes of workers. Yet, it is dismissed by the Left as only benefiting the wealthy and supports their premise of “trickle down economics.” Yet, the new tax structure is already showing signs of materially boosting the economy and increasing worker income. In another area, the president’s doctor recently gave the president a clean bill of health. Yet there are people in the news media spin this to mean he is at risk to heart disease. In other words, no matter whatever good the president does, it will always be spun and reported as evil by the Left. This is why they have a fixation with the Russian probe, even though nothing of substance has yet to surface. Remarkably, there is little interest in the Russian bribery case regarding the Uranium One deal involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

By vilifying Mr. Trump, they hope to associate GOP Congressional candidates with him, thereby thwarting the chances for election. If these candidates renounce the president out of fear, the Democrats will win. Instead, they need to turn something negative into something positive by touting the president’s accomplishments. In other words, the GOP candidates have to jump on the Trump Train as opposed to resisting him, recognizing their collective fate rests in his hands.

The GOP better get its act together fast as the left is already organized and working in a concerted manner. As usual, the Republicans have to play catch-up but, fortunately, there is still time. The first thing to learn to do is think beyond a single candidate. You might have a favorite, but you have to think of all the candidates in your jurisdiction; the Democrats are. Next, recognize it is time to fight back with the same ferocity the left is exhibiting. Frankly, this country cannot afford to revert back to Democratic rule, they need to be slapped down.

There are three steps required for this type of political campaign:

1. Get organized – this includes forming committees with leaders and workers who will assume responsibility and possess a sense of urgency. Education and instruction are essential. Very important, these committees need to learn to network in order to understand what is going on elsewhere and to learn from each other. They should also find ways to work together, not apart.

Communications is vital, whether it be through a web site, e-mail blasts, telephone calls, podcasts, or a regularly produced newsletter. All of this implies the need for a master address book to contact people.

As an inherent part of your communications, develop a calendar of events and maintain it regularly. Be sure to include pertinent dates of both Republican and Democratic events in your area, thereby encouraging attendance by members of the GOP. This is particularly useful for attending Democratic town hall meetings where people can voice their opposition.

Planning and scheduling is key to this activity. Be careful in allocating human resources as you do not want to stretch your people thin, thereby causing them to burn out. Your management philosophy should be simple: Delegate responsibility and get out of the way; empower people and hold them accountable for their commitments.

2. Enlist recruits – not just volunteers to serve on committees but to register people to legally vote. For those who wish to vote in person, as opposed to absentee ballot, make arrangements to get them to their voting precinct.

3. Let your voice be heard – whether it is through advertising, sign waving, speeches or writing campaigns to editors and local politicians. More importantly, take the fake news to task as they are not proponents of Republicans and spread the lies of the Left. Prepare a list of the newspapers, television and radio stations, and bloggers in your area, including the names and contact information of the key contacts of the fake news. Write to them and correct their inaccuracies. It may even be necessary to picket their offices and make sure other news sources are made aware of it. If necessary, start a campaign to boycott or censure them. After all, if they mislead the public, they are not proponents of truth. Let them know what they are doing is unacceptable.

In all of your dealings with the public and the news media, do not lie, cheat or defraud, that’s what the Democrats do. It is not worth lowering yourself to their level. Handle yourself professionally and with dignity, thereby becoming a model for others to emulate. Those that elected Mr. Trump in 2016 from middle America, find it refreshing when people deport themselves honestly. Do not apologize for being right.

As Americans, the concept of such a vicious campaign is distasteful, but the reality is the progressive/left agenda is at stake here, and the Democrats have already demonstrated they will sink to the lowest levels to maintain their programs, honesty be damned.

No, the kid gloves are off and it is time to stop the lying and dirty politics of the left. They have distracted this country long enough and kept us from achieving greatness. It’s time to get organized and get going.

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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT – How to keep on top of your game at work.

LAST TIME:  DEBRIEFING: A LESSON FOR YOUNG PEOPLE  – What we must all go through when joining a new company, particularly newbies.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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DEBRIEFING: A LESSON FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 29, 2018

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– What we must all go through when joining a new company, particularly newbies.

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

What you learned in school, of course, will be useful to you in your adult life, but more importantly, it means you possess the faculties to learn, that you can be taught; two important attributes employers are looking for. They are not so much interested in what you have learned in school as much as your ability to learn and adapt, which is what the diploma represents. Regardless of your degree, most employers are going to spend a period of time debriefing you and then teach you how to do things in the manner in which they want things done. This is an important first step in acclimating into the corporate culture. And just because you have graduated, don’t think this is the end of your education. You will be learning lessons for the rest of your life. Our schools and universities do nothing more than train your mind to learn. That is their mission.

I had a friend who graduated from a trade school in Cincinnati as a machinist. He was very bright and graduated at the top of his class, making him an ideal candidate for a local tool and die company who hired him. Although my friend knew a lot about being a machinist, the company first put him through their in-house school which taught him their approach to building machines. He later confided that although he was at first skeptical of what he was going to learn, that he thought he was already suitably trained, he said what he learned from the company was light years ahead of what he learned in school. The lesson here was twofold: never be too cocky to think you know everything, and; there is always room for improvement.

Regardless of the type of company you are joining, getting debriefed is a natural part of entering the work force. Do not be insulted and resist it, learn from it. Keep one thing in mind, you are still an unknown quantity to the company and, as such, they want to point you in the right direction in starting your job. Further, you can expect quite a lot of supervision in the early stages of your employment as the company wants to be sure you are doing your job properly.

Debriefing can take many forms, a formal school like my friend experienced, classroom “hands-on” training, or simply on-the-job training. Regardless, now is the time to pay attention to detail and take lots of notes.

Being the new kid on the block (aka “Newbie”) has its advantages and disadvantages. In terms of advantages, it’s hard to blame the Newbie for things they are not expected to know yet. This means you are allowed to make certain innocent mistakes for awhile, but don’t make a habit of it. You are also allowed to ask the naive “dumb question” which nobody else will ask. In fact, the veterans are expecting you to make certain slip-ups for which you will naturally be kidded about. Take this in stride and learn from it. The disadvantages are that you will be given mundane tasks to perform initially, many of which can be called “Gofor” work, e.g., “Go for this, go for that.” The point is, as a Newbie, you are being tested to see not only how well you can perform, but how you react to certain situations. You are going to be gauged in terms of your performance, patience, persistence, diplomacy, risk, teamwork, etc. Most, if not all, of the veterans have gone through these same assignments and in order to gain their approval and trust, you must demonstrate your willingness to accept and execute such assignments. You may rightfully believe some of your tasks are below your dignity. Regardless, the best way to rise above this is to simply tackle any job they give you, do it well, do it fast, and do not gripe about it. Ultimately, how you perform in the Newbie stage establishes you on the totem pole (your seniority). It is also wise to remember this experience as it will have a bearing on how you relate to the next Newbie who comes along.

First published: August 13, 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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THIS IS WAR! – Anyone expecting a peaceful mid-term election is taking it in the arm.

LAST TIME:  PROACTIVE VERSUS REACTIVE MANAGEMENT  – “Beware of your ‘firefighters,’ they are probably your chief arsonists.” – Bryce’s Law

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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PROACTIVE VERSUS REACTIVE MANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 26, 2018

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

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

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

I have been thinking a lot about micromanagement lately. It seems the corporate world is consumed with mini-dictators who are bent on directing the activities of others. I also see this in nonprofit organizations consisting of volunteers and managed by leaders who can be rather ruthless. Nonetheless, I have also noticed there appears to be an inclination for such managers to be reactive as opposed to proactive in their style of management, and I cannot help but think that micromanagement and reactive management are somehow related.

I have met a lot of reactive managers in my time. All exhibit the following characteristics:

* Seldom has time for interoffice planning/organization meetings.

* Has trouble effectively communicating with the staff, particularly articulating objectives and plans.

* Not interested in or doesn’t heed input from subordinates.

* Spends more time supervising than managing.

* Changes priorities on the fly.

* Rarely, if ever, produces priority lists (keeps it in his/her head).

* Bipolar – knows great enthusiasms and is easily depressed.

* Thrives on chaos – sees themselves as saviors. Likes to swoop in and solve problems.

As to this last point, we have encountered situations like this on more than one occasion, but in particular we were contracted by a large insurance company in the Midwest to audit the performance of two systems development groups in the company. One group appeared to be well organized and managed; they quietly went about their business and delivered their work products on time and within budget. Another group was just the antithesis of the other; systems were installed prematurely and never to the customer’s satisfaction, and assignments were routinely late and over budget. Nonetheless, the manager of this latter group was well respected for being able to put out fires at a moment’s notice.

When we finally presented our results to the board of directors, we made the observation that their head firefighter was also the cause of all of the problems he was correcting. Yet, whereas the manager of the group who quietly produced superior work products was unrecognized, the head firefighter was being amply rewarded for his efforts. Basically, he was taking advantage of the “squeaky wheel getting the oil” phenomenon. Frankly, the executives were surprised by our comments and that such a situation had arisen in their company.

There are two reasons for reactive management; either for political gain (as in the insurance example above), or because people simply do not know how to be proactive. One excuse commonly heard from reactive managers is, “We never have enough time to do things right.” Translation: “We have plenty of time to do things wrong.” True management is hard work, requiring skills in planning, analysis, organization, leadership, and communications. To some, it is easier to let problems come to them as opposed to trying to anticipate problems and take action before they occur. In other words, they resign themselves to a life of reactive management.

The proactive manager invests his time and money in planning and, consequently, spends less in implementation. In contrast, the reactive manager regards planning as a waste of time and is content spending an inordinate amount of time in implementation, thereby incurring more costs and, because of the ensuing chaos, needs to micromanage people.

Young people coming into the workforce tend to learn from their managers and emulate their style for years to come. If they see proactive management, they will believe this is the proper way of conducting business and perpetuate this style, but if they only see reactive management…

This leads me to believe we will be plagued by reactive management for quite some time to come.

First published: January 7, 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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  DEBRIEFING: A LESSON FOR YOUNG PEOPLE – What we must all go through when joining a new company, particularly newbies.

LAST TIME:  WHO HAS REALLY GOT THE MENTAL DISORDER, TRUMP OR THE DEMS?  – Let me give you a hint, it’s not the president.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

WHO HAS REALLY GOT THE MENTAL DISORDER, TRUMP OR THE DEMS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 24, 2018

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Let me give you a hint, it’s not the president.

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

From an industrial psychology perspective, President Trump exhibits a super Type-A personality, which is common for successful people and something I have discussed previously. This type of person possesses a no-nonsense entrepreneurial and competitive personality, something commonly found in the captains of industry. These people represent the polar opposites of Type-D personalities who are not risk takers, bureaucratic and are defenders of the status quo. It is not unusual for Type-A personalities to possesses a rather avant-garde sense of humor which others may misunderstand or even find offensive. Some would even go so far as to denounce such a person as vulgar and crude, certainly not politically correct, which is how the media and the left portrays Mr. Trump. I find this particularly amusing coming from people who publicly demonstrate in bizarre costumes, such as female genitalia, and shout expletives at anyone disagreeing with them.

Recently, Dr. Bandy X. Lee, a psychiatry professor at Yale, gained notoriety in the press when she claimed Mr. Trump’s mental state caused detrimental social effects. This was used by Democrats and the news media to suggest the president is unfit to serve office and should be removed. Such an analysis is irresponsible as the American Psychiatric Association declared it to be unethical for a psychiatrist to offer any kind of a diagnosis on a public figure without examining that person. This resulted from the 1964 presidential election where psychiatrists erroneously claimed Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was mentally unstable to serve office and cost him the election. In fact, there has not been any such analysis to suggest Mr. Trump presents a threat to the country, only speculation by his opponents. His detractors contend, at the very least, he suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder. Even if this is correct, which I am not willing to concede, this is not cause for his removal. After all, I believe all of our commander-in-chiefs suffer from a touch of narcissism, particularly the last resident of the White House.

The case against the president’s mental fitness is nothing more than a smoke screen designed to cause doubt in the minds of people. Basically, he has remained true to his campaign promises. Democrats realize if they lose the 2018 mid-term elections, it will be disastrous for the progressive/liberal agenda; thereby, they will go to any lengths to discredit the president and refuses to cooperate with him. As much as the president and the American people would like to see the two parties work together, this simply will not happen until Democratic leadership is replaced (e.g., Pelosi, Hoyer, Schumer, Durbin).

Another reason for the reaction to Mr. Trump is the American public no longer is used to a strong personality running the executive branch. Most have turned into politically correct weaklings who have grown afraid of the news media. The last truly strong president was Theodore Roosevelt who exhibited many of the same characteristics of our current commander-in-chief. Like Trump, Roosevelt was despised by the media, particularly the New York Times and Washington Post.

Perhaps the people who truly have a mental disorder are those strongly opposed to the president. For example, they exhibit the symptoms of denial (failing to address reality), and exhibit an immaturity where temper tantrums flair regularly and venomous hatred is spewed. This would suggest they haven’t grown up yet and act on half truths. This is typical of young people in college (e.g., “snowflakes”) who do not grasp the results of the election, how government works (e.g., the Electoral College), and require childlike caring and comfort.

Many on the left blame Mr. Trump for the depression they are suffering through, or for gaining or losing weight. Now we hear of such things as “Trump Hypertensive Unexplained Disorder” (THUD) which appears to be commonly found in states not supporting Mr. Trump during the 2016 election. This claims Mr. Trump is the cause for rises in blood pressure and stunting life expectancy. Then again, this was written by someone at the Washington Post, go figure.

The stark reality is there is nothing wrong with the mental fitness of the president. Even though Democrats hope Americans will see him as unbalanced, deep down they know this is simply not true. Again, this is nothing but a ploy to regain control of the Congress in the mid-term elections. If the Democrats fail, this will likely be another nail in the coffin in the progressive/liberal agenda and will put their party in a tailspin.

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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  PROACTIVE VERSUS REACTIVE MANAGEMENT – “Beware of your ‘firefighters,’ they are probably your chief arsonists.” – Bryce’s Law

LAST TIME:  RECOGNIZING THE PETER PRINCIPLE  – “A man has got to know his limitations.” – Dirty Harry

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

RECOGNIZING THE PETER PRINCIPLE

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 22, 2018

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– “A man has got to know his limitations.” – Dirty Harry

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

The Peter Principle was introduced back in 1969 by Dr. Laurence J. Peter in his book of the same name. In a nutshell, the principle contends that in a hierarchical organization a person will rise to the level of their competency, and trouble arises if the person rises above it. Along with Parkinson’s Law, it is one of the most well known principles in the world of management. Unfortunately, young people are unfamiliar with the concept which is perhaps why we are seeing more people lately rising above their level of competency.

So what are the earmarks of the Peter Principle? Actually, three indicators come to mind:

1. Project estimates and schedules are routinely missed. The person doesn’t just miss assignments every now and then, but consistently misses them. This is indicative of the person’s ability to see projects through to successful completion or manage by objectives. If he cannot, he either lacks the proper skills and training to perform the work, or simply doesn’t care about being late or over budget.

2. The duties and responsibilities as defined in a job description are not being met. Again, this may be indicative of the lack of proper knowledge, skills and experience, or an attitude problem.

3. The person lacks the respect and confidence of the people working around him, not only his subordinates, but his superior and lateral relationships as well. Although this is difficult to quantify, it basically tells us, “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” In other words, the person either has bad social skills, or his peers already know what he is capable and incapable of doing.

Aside from dealing with someone who is in over his head, the real challenge is to hire the right person for the right job, which is not quite as easy as it may sound. Human resource departments may have a battery of tests to verify a person’s skills and general knowledge, but successful experience and attitudes are much harder to substantiate. Again, there are three areas to consider:

1. Ability to meet project estimates and schedules. This is difficult to demonstrate and management inevitably has to rely on the person’s word for their performance. Then again, if the person had been using a Project Management system at his last job, he may have access to documentation which reflects his performance.

2. Understands the job he is applying for. This is where a lot of people get into trouble as they do not really grasp the significance of the job they are applying for, but like the title. Regretfully, people too often chase titles as opposed to jobs. To test his knowledge, ask the person to articulate the job description and how he would satisfy the requirements for it. Further, has he performed a comparable job like this before?

3. Respect of the people he worked with. Again, this is difficult to substantiate as people are more reluctant to give references these days in fear of possible litigation for giving a bad reference. Nonetheless, references should be scrutinized as closely as possible.

The one question that is commonly overlooked is, “Why do you want this job?” The answers might surprise you, e.g.; “I need a job”, “I’m looking to advance myself and need a challenge,” “I’m the right person for the job”, etc. The one I particularly like is, “I want to make a difference,” which indicates to me the person’s confidence and ambition.

Hiring people without doing a thorough examination of the person’s background is courting the Peter Principle.

Allowing people to stay in a position where they are in over their head is just plain irresponsible on management’s part. It is a disservice not only to the company, but to the employee as well. When a person has risen above their level of competency, it will become obvious to others and may affect morale. Standard and routine performance appraisals should help overcome this problem, but if they are infrequently performed or done in an inconsistent manner, the Peter Principle will inevitably kick in. Management should either work with the person to get him back on track, or terminate his employment.

I guess what troubles me here is that people apply for jobs they knowingly are not qualified for, and remarkably, every now and then they slip through the cracks and get the job. In this event, management gets what they pay for.

First published: July 21, 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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHO HAS REALLY GOT THE MENTAL DISORDER, TRUMP OR THE DEMS? – Let me give you a hint, it’s not the president.

LAST TIME:  MANAGING CONSULTANTS  – How to manage them effectively.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

MANAGING CONSULTANTS

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 19, 2018

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– How to manage them effectively.

The need for outside contract services is nothing new. IT-related consultants have been around since the computer was first introduced for commercial purposes. Today, all of the Fortune 1000 companies have consultants playing different roles in IT, either on-site or offshore. Many companies are satisfied with the work produced by their consultants, others are not. Some consultants are considered a necessary evil who tackle assignments in an unbridled manner and charge exorbitant rates. For this type of consultant, it is not uncommon for the customer to be left in the dark in terms of what the consultant has done, where they are going, and if and when they will ever complete their assignment. Understand this, the chaos brought on by such consultants are your own doing.

IT consultants offer three types of services:

1. Special expertise – representing skills and proficiencies your company is currently without, be it the knowledge of a particular product, industry, software, management techniques, special programming techniques and languages, computer hardware, etc.

2. Extra resources – for those assignments where in-house resource allocations are either unavailable or in short supply, it is often better to tap outside resources to perform the work.

3. Offer advice – to get a fresh perspective on a problem, it is sometimes beneficial to bring in an outsider to give an objective opinion on how to proceed. A different set of eyes can often see something we may have overlooked.

Whatever purpose we wish to use a consultant for, it is important to manage them even before they are hired. This means a company should know precisely what it wants before hiring a consultant.

ASSIGNMENT DEFINITION

Before we contact a consultant, let’s begin by defining the assignment as concisely and accurately as possible; frankly, it shouldn’t be much different than writing a job description for in-house employees. It should include:

1. Scope – specifying the boundaries of the work assignment and detailing what is to be produced. This should also include where the work is to be performed (on-site, off-site, both) and time frame for performing the work.

2. Duties and Responsibilities – specifying the types of work to be performed.

3. Required Skills and Proficiencies – specifying the knowledge or experience required to perform the work.

4. Administrative Relationships – specifying who the consultant is to report to and who they will work with (internal employees and other external consultants).

5. Methodology considerations – specifying the methodology, techniques and tools to be used, along with the deliverables to be produced and review points. This is a critical consideration in managing the consultant. However, if the consultant is to use his/her own methodology, the customer should understand how it works and the deliverables produced.

6. Miscellaneous in-house standards – depending on the company, it may be necessary to review applicable corporate policies, e.g., travel expenses, dress code, attendance, behavior, drug test, etc.

Many would say such an Assignment Definition is overkill. Far from it. How can we manage anyone if we do not establish the rules of the game first? Doing your homework now will pay dividends later when trying to manage the consultant. Assignment clarity benefits both the customer and the consultant alike. Such specificity eliminates vague areas and materially assists the consultant in quoting a price.

SELECTING A CONSULTANT

Armed with an Assignment Definition, we can now begin the process of selecting a consultant in essentially the same manner as selecting an in-house employee. Choosing the right consultant is as important a task as the work to be performed. As such, candidates must be able to demonstrate their expertise for the assignment. Certification and/or in-house testing are good ways for checking required skills and proficiencies. Also, reviewing prior consulting assignments (and checking references) is very helpful. Examining credentials is imperative in an industry lacking standards. For example, many consultants may have a fancy title and profess to be noted experts in their field but, in reality, may be nothing more than contract programmers. In other words, beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Ideally, a consultant should have both a business and technical background. True, technical expertise is needed to perform IT assignments, but a basic understanding of business (particularly your business) is also important for the consultant to adapt to your environment. This is needed even if you are using nothing more than contract programmers.

In terms of remuneration, you normally have two options: an hourly rate or a fixed price. For the former, be sure the work hours are specified, including on-site and off-site. Many clients are uncomfortable paying an hourly wage for an off-site consultant. Under this scenario, routine status reports should be required to itemize the work performed and the time spent. However, the lion’s share of consulting services are based on a fixed price contract. Here, the role of the methodology becomes rather important. Whether you are using “PRIDE” or another Brand X methodology, it is important the consultant and client both have a clear understanding of the project’s work breakdown structure, the deliverables to be produced, and the review points. From this, an effective dialog can be communicated in terms of managing the project. Further, the methodology becomes the basis for the preparation of estimates and schedules.

After examining your candidates, it now becomes necessary to balance the level of expertise against price. Sure, a senior person can probably get the job done in less time, but perhaps the costs may be too high for your budget. “Expertise” versus “expense” becomes a serious consideration at this point.

Whomever is selected, it is important that a written agreement be prepared and signed. The agreement should reference the Assignment Definition mentioned above and any other pertinent corporate verbiage. Very important: make sure it is clear that the work produced by the consultant becomes your exclusive property (not the consultant’s). Further, the consultant shouldn’t use misappropriated work from other assignments. Finally, add a clause pertaining to workmanship; that the consultant will correct at his/her expense any defects found; e.g., defective software, data base designs, etc.

MANAGING THE CONSULTANT

The two most obvious ways to manage consultants is by having them prepare routine status reports and project time reports. Such reports should be produced on a weekly basis and detail what the consultant has produced for the past week and detail his/her plans for the coming week. You, the client, should review and approve all such reports and file accordingly.

A methodology materially assists in tracking a consultant’s progress. As a roadmap for a project, the methodology takes the guesswork out of what is to be produced and when. Without such a roadmap, you are at the mercy of the consultant. Along these lines, I am reminded of a story of a large manufacturing company in the UK who used one of the large CPA firms to tackle a major system development assignment. The system was very important to the client, but lacking the necessary in-house resources to develop it, they turned to the CPA firm to design and develop it. Regrettably, the client didn’t take the time to define the methodology for the project and left it to the discretion of the CPA firm. The project began and the CPA firm brought on-site many junior staff members to perform the systems and programming work. So far, so good. However, considerable time went by before the client asked the senior partner about the status of the project (after several monthly invoices). The senior partner assured the client that all was well and the project was progressing smoothly. More time past (and more invoices paid) with still nothing to show for it. Becoming quite anxious, the client began to badger the consultant as to when the project would be completed. Finally, after several months of stalling, the consultant proudly proclaimed “Today we finished Phase 1….but now we have to move on to Phase 2.” And, as you can imagine, there were many more succeeding phases with no end in sight.

What is the lesson from this story? Without a methodology roadmap, it is next to impossible to effectively manage a consultant. The project will lose direction almost immediately and the project will go into a tailspin. The only person who wins in this regard is the consultant who is being paid regardless of what work is produced. Instead of vague generalities, you, the client, have to learn to manage by deliverables.

CONCLUSION

My single most important recommendation to anyone considering the use of outside consultants is simple: Get everything in writing! Clearly define the work assignment, get a signed agreement spelling out the terms of the assignment, and demand regular status reports.

I am always amazed how companies give consulting firms carte blanche to perform project work as they see fit. Abdicating total control to a consultant is not only irresponsible, it is highly suspicious and may represent collusion and kickbacks.

There is nothing magical in managing consultants. It requires nothing more than simple planning, organization, and control. If you are not willing to do this, then do not be surprised with the results produced. Failure to manage a consultant properly or to adequately inspect work in progress will produce inadequate results. So, do yourself (and your company) a favor, do your homework and create a win-win scenario for both the consultant and yourself.

First published: July 4, 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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  RECOGNIZING THE PETER PRINCIPLE – “A man has got to know his limitations.” – Dirty Harry

LAST TIME:  TELEVISION – PAYING MORE, GETTING LESS  – With the advent of cable, television hasn’t gotten any better.

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TELEVISION – PAYING MORE, GETTING LESS

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 17, 2018

BRYCE ON ENTERTAINMENT

– With the advent of cable, television hasn’t gotten any better.

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

There used to be a time when I relished coming home after work and watch some television after dinner. It was a good way to relax and unwind. Thursday nights used to be “must see” TV featuring comedy. News magazines like “60 Minutes” and “20/20” were also meaningful. Personally, I was a sucker for “Law & Order”
and watched it for years. We would end the day by falling asleep to the late night talk shows. Unfortunately, all of this has changed.

As much as I would like to watch television, I cannot seem to find anything worthwhile anymore. The few remaining comedy shows cannot seem to get a laugh unless there is a reference to genitalia or some other taboo subject. I am certainly not a prude, but I tune in to laugh, not to listen to vulgarity. For drama, there are a host of police stories featuring a comic book array of guns, violence and drugs. There is also the occasional game show, but the lions share of entertainment appears to be reality shows, where we watch toothless rednecks surviving in Alaska, a variety of talent shows, bridal planning, home remodeling, and other topics related to obesity, survival, cooking, infidelity, hoarding, and other vices. Interestingly, there are few reality shows promoting patriotic themes, such as the military and veterans, charities, law enforcement, fire fighters and first responders, all representing the true heroes of today who should be emulated.

There are also many Hollywood adulation shows where awards are presented to the entertainment industry. These have less to do with entertainment and more to do with spouting incoherent political commentaries, which I find to be a real turnoff.

Inevitably, I now live in a world of re-runs and news. A big night for me lately is watching old re-runs of “The Munsters,” “Andy Griffith,” “Taxi,” “Newhart,” and if I’m really lucky, “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.”

I have the same problem finding anything worthwhile to watch on Netflix, Amazon, and the other streaming channels, where a variety of movies are available, but none of which I find stimulating. Most feature comic-book stories with weak scripts. Rarely do any of these services show a movie produced before 1980, leaving me to assume movies were not around back then.

As to news, I have been a junkie for many years, but there is simply too much Fake News being reported today to be credible. No wonder they have lost the public trust. Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite and Howard K. Smith would all be spinning in their graves if they knew what was going on.

Most appalling of all is having to pay a hefty monthly fee for the many channels I do not watch. Back in the 1960’s, during the “Golden Age of TV,” there were only three channels (ABC, CBS, NBC) and possibly a UHF channel for PBS or an independent station. With such a limited number of stations available, only the crème de la crème made it to the screen. This is when you would find yourself saying, “Hey, it’s Monday night, Laugh-In is on; hurry up, let’s clean the kitchen so we won’t miss anything.” Each night had its own unique set of programs we watched regularly. For example, Sunday nights were dedicated to Ed Sullivan, Lassie, Walt Disney, and Bonanza. And movies were shown throughout the week.

Interestingly, none of this cost us a dime. I find it rather ironic, whereas we once watched good programming at no cost, we are now being charged exorbitant rates to watch a giant pile of trash, and we are still inundated with commercials to boot. For those who may have forgotten, the original idea of cable was to eliminate those annoying ads on television. Interestingly, you’ll notice they are still with us.

Thank God for the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). I actively use it to record the shows and movies I want to watch which are normally played late at night. One of the main reasons I use it is the fast forward button allowing me to speed past those pesky commercials. This is particularly useful when watching sports.

Oh well, I guess it’s back to watching Herman Munster, Andy Griffith, Bob Newhart, Johnny Carson and “Law & Order” for me. What was good then, is still better than what is on today.

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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  MANAGING CONSULTANTS – How to manage them effectively.

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

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THE FIVE ELEMENTS OF MASS PRODUCTION

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 15, 2018

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– It’s what keeps products and services affordable.

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

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

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

The Five Basic Elements of Mass Production include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Productivity = Effectiveness X Efficiency

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

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

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

First published: February 11, 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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  TELEVISION – PAYING MORE, GETTING LESS – With the advent of cable, television hasn’t gotten any better.

LAST TIME:  CRAFTSMANSHIP: THE MEANING OF LIFE  – It is universally applicable to any line of work.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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CRAFTSMANSHIP: THE MEANING OF LIFE

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 12, 2018

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– It is universally applicable to any line of work.

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

When I got into the work force back in the mid-1970’s it seemed everyone dressed in a suit and tie, drank black coffee, smoked their brains out, and worked their butts off. Today, golf shirts have replaced suits, herbal tea and bottled water have replaced coffee, nobody is allowed to smoke, and rarely does anyone work beyond 5:00pm. More importantly, we used to care about the work we produced; there was a sense of craftsmanship, regardless of the job.

My Brother-in-law in Cincinnati conducted me on a tour of his company’s machine-tool shop years ago and showed me how he could take a block of aluminum and convert it into a high-precision machine tool. It was a pleasure to watch him work, as it is to watch anyone who knows what they are doing, be it a waitress, a programmer, a laborer or a clerk.

Quality and service used to be considered paramount in this country. If it wasn’t just right, you were expected to do it over again until you got it right. We cared about what we produced because it was a reflection of our personal character and integrity. But somewhere along the line we lost our way and craftsmanship has fallen by the wayside. Why? Probably because we no longer care.

In today’s litigious society, employees are acutely aware that it is difficult to be fired due to poor performance. They know they will still get paid and receive benefits, regardless of the amount of effort they put forth. Consequently, there is little to encourage people to perform better. Money isn’t a motivating factor anymore. People now expect bonuses, raises and other perks to be paid out regardless of how well they perform during the year.

We’ve also become a nation content with doing small things. America used to be known as a powerhouse that could tackle large projects, such as building skyscrapers, designing innovative bridges and tunnels spanning substantial bodies of water, engineering transcontinental railroads and highway systems, conquering air and space travel, and defending freedom not just once but in two world wars. If you really wanted something done, you talked to the Americans and no one else. Now we get excited over iPods, cell phones, and other electronic trinkets.

Many believe Craftsmanship is in decline due to the general apathy found in today’s society. Maybe. I tend to believe it is due to an erosion of our moral values. Let me give you an example. Having a child in college, my interest was piqued recently by an article describing the pervasiveness of cheating and plagiarism in our schools. It is not my intent to make a political statement here but many of the students mentioned in the article rationalized their cheating on the fact that one of our past Presidents cheated and lied under oath, and got away with it. They figured if it is okay for the Commander-in-Chief to act this way, it was an acceptable form of behavior.

Arnold Toynbee, the famed English historian, observed, “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.” If the moral fabric of our society dies, our story is told as evidenced by other great civilizations that long preceded us. Our perspective needs to be realigned: Our personal and professional lives must be viewed as one. As Toynbee remarked, “The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” By doing so, we identify more closely with our work and assume a greater pride in workmanship. We do not need to hear this from our boss, but rather from within. As strange as it may sound, I see Craftsmanship as being patriotic in nature; doing a good quality job is part of leading a good and honorable life and builds on the individual’s esteem, the company he works for, and the country he lives in.

The biggest problem though is that we have forgotten how to manage people. The manager’s primary goal is to create the proper work environment for employees to produce the desired work products. This is different than a supervisory capacity that directs how each person performs the various tasks of a job. In fact, I encourage managers to manage more and supervise less. I cringe when I see a manager try to “micromanage” either a Fortune 500 company or a non-profit organization. Yes, people need to be trained in order to properly perform their work but following this, employees should be mature enough to supervise themselves. In the old days, management stressed discipline, accountability, and structure; three ugly words in today’s workplace.

Understanding Craftsmanship

Some might say craftsmanship is a simple concept that we should intuitively know. Not true; most people today have no comprehension as to what makes up a good craftsman; they have either forgotten or it has simply passed them by. Craftsmanship can be found in any field of endeavor imaginable, be it in the product sector or service industry. Craftsmanship, therefore, is universally applicable to any line of work.

Craftsmanship is not “workmanship”, nor is it synonymous with quality, although the three concepts are closely related. Let’s begin by giving “Craftsmanship” a definition: “The production and delivery of quality goods or services from highly skilled workmen.”

Quality relates to the absence of errors or defects in the finished product or service. In other words, finished goods operate according to their specifications (customers get precisely what they ordered). Such products are normally durable and require minimal maintenance. Craftsmanship produces quality products. In the absence of craftsmen, a rigorous methodology or assembly line process is required to produce quality goods using workers without the expertise of craftsmen. Such processes detail “Who” is to perform “What” work, “When”, “Where”, “Why” and “How” (5W+H), thereby assuring a quality product or service is produced. Such is the underlying rationale of the ISO 9000 certification as used by many companies today. The point is, quality is not the exclusive domain of the craftsman.

Craftsmanship is also a human trait. Some might argue a computer or industrial robot can produce quality products and are, therefore, craftsmen. However, we must remember these devices are programmed by human beings in accordance with the rules of the craftsman. As such, they are an extension or tool of the craftsman.

Craftsmanship can be found in either the overall work process or a section of it. For example, there are craftsmen who are intimate with all facets of building furniture, such as a table, a chair or desk, and can implement the product from start to finish. However, as products grow in complexity, it becomes difficult to find people suitably qualified to build them from the womb to the tomb. Consider military weapons alone, such as the complicated ships, tanks, and airplanes we now use, with thousands or millions of parts to assemble. Such complexity makes it impossible for a single person to have the expertise to build the whole product. The same is true in the service sector where different types of expertise and capabilities may be required. In other words, craftsmen have a specific scope of work. The scope of work may relate to other types of craftsmen through a chain of work dependencies, e.g., Craftsmen A, B and C concentrate on separate sub-assemblies which are eventually joined into a single product.

Attributes

So, what are the attributes of a craftsman? What makes a craftsman a craftsman? There are three basic attributes described herein:

1. Possesses the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the work.

The craftsman is an expert in his field of endeavor; so much so that he could easily serve as an instructor in the subject matter. But the craftsman is also smart enough to know that education is not a one time thing, that his world and field evolve as new tools and techniques are introduced. As such, the craftsman is a student of his profession and is constantly looking to improve himself. This is exercised through such things as continued education, routine certification, studying books and trade publications, and industrial groups. The craftsman willingly participates in trade groups, often at his own expense, in order to network with his peers.

It is Important to note that the craftsman does not need to be told he needs periodic training to sharpen his skills. Instead, he takes the personal initiative to stay on top of his game. Further, the craftsman has no problem with a periodic job review; in fact, he welcomes it for it might bring out a weakness in a skill he needs to sharpen.

2. Attention to detail.

The craftsman understands and respects the process of building/delivering a product or service and is acutely aware of the penalties for cutting corners. Earlier we discussed the need for a methodology that specifies 5W+H. The craftsman is intimate with all details of his scope of work, so much so, he could probably write the methodology himself. Further, his intimacy of the work process means he can produce a reliable estimate of time and costs to perform the work.

Although many of the craftsman’s tasks may be repetitive, it doesn’t mean he easily falls into a rut. Instead, he is constantly looking for new tools and techniques to improve the work process. As such, he plays the role of Industrial Engineer who is normally charged with such a task.

The craftsman’s attention to detail also means that he demonstrates patience in his work effort. Again, wary of cutting corners, the craftsman must possess such patience in order to produce the product the right way.

3. Views professional life as an extension of his personal life.

The craftsman identifies with the end product which is where pride in workmanship comes from. In his mind, the craftsman has been charged with the responsibility of producing something, and wanting to satisfy the customer, puts forth his best effort to produce it. In other words, craftsmen take their work personally. This is a difficult trait to teach particularly in today’s society where the focus is more on financial compensation than on the work product itself. It may sound naive, but the craftsman believes he will be suitably compensated for producing superior results.

Years ago, Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears (NFL) confounded sports writers who could never understand why Butkus played as hard as he did year after year for a losing football team. True, Dick loved the game, but beyond that, the sports writers didn’t understand one thing about the seven time All-Pro linebacker: Butkus took his job personally. It was important to him that his opponents know that they had been tackled by the best player; as he said, “When they get up from the ground I want them to say ‘it must have been Butkus that got me’.” Dick Butkus was a craftsman.

The craftsman has a burning desire to produce a superior product/service because he sees it as a reflection of himself. As such, the lines delineating their personal life and professional life are blurred. This is a significant characteristic that clearly separates a craftsman from the average worker. The craftsman’s work is his life. He does not shirk responsibility, but rather embraces it with confidence and embosses his name on the finished product. Conversely, making a work related mistake of any kind pains a true craftsman.

Job titles are normally inconsequential to the craftsman who is more interested in delivering a quality product/service enjoyed by the customer. Instead, the craftsman takes pleasure in being touted as the best in his craft. He appreciates recognition; when someone makes a compliment about a product, the craftsman views it as a personal compliment. This too runs contrary to today’s corporate world where people desperately seek recognition through simple job titles. Want someone with an inflated ego? Give them a title. Want something done right? Call a craftsman.

Productivity

“Dependable”, “professional”, and “resourceful” are adjectives that aptly describe the craftsman. He is not one who fabricates excuses but, rather, always finds a way to get the job done. The craftsman is typically your most productive employee. He is mindful of the concept of productivity that we have touted for years:

Productivity = Effectiveness X Efficiency

Most people fallaciously equate productivity with efficiency, which simply gauges how fast we can perform a given task. Effectiveness, on the other hand, validates the necessity of the task itself. There is nothing more unproductive than to do something efficiently that should not have been done at all. An industrial robot, for example, can efficiently perform such tasks as welding. But if you are welding the wrong thing, then it is counterproductive. Going back to our description of a methodology, effectiveness defines “Who/What/When/Where/Why”, efficiency defines “How.” The craftsman is well aware of the difference between the two and knows how to apply both. As such, the craftsman is in tune with his work environment and corporate culture.

So how do we make craftsmen?

Not easily. Because of the human dynamics involved with the craftsman, you will need to be a pretty intuitive manager or industrial psychologist to make it happen. Selecting suitable candidates is the logical first step. Devise an aptitude test to determine the candidate’s suitability to become a craftsman. After all, “you cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.” Aside from specific knowledge and experience in a given field (e.g., programming, woodworking, construction, accounting, etc.), here are some other important traits to look for:

* Fertility of mind – judge his ability to learn, to adapt to changing conditions, and to look beyond his scope of work. Evaluate his professional curiosity.

* Confidence – judge how well the candidate knows himself, particularly how well he knows his own limitations. He should admit his deficiencies and not fabricate excuses.

* Dedication – judge his loyalty and determination to accomplish something. What is his attendance record? What outside clubs and organizations does he belong to and how active is he in them?

* Entrepreneurial spirit – judge his personal initiative. Is he driven to succeed (but not to the point of reckless abandon)? Does he have a problem with accountability? This says a lot about assuming responsibility.

* Attention to detail – judge his ability to focus on a subject. Does he have a problem with discipline or organization? A person’s dress, mannerisms, and speech says a lot about a person.

* Reliability – judge his ability to assume responsibility and carry a task through to completion.

* Resourcefulness – judge his ability to adapt to changing conditions and persevere to see a task through to completion. The candidate cannot be inflexible; he must be able to find solutions to solve problems.

* Socialization skills – does he work better alone or as a team player? His position may depend on his answer.

When you have selected suitable candidates, here are three areas to concentrate on:

1. Develop their skills and knowledge by allowing such things as: participation in trade groups, outside certification and on-going training, subscriptions to trade journals, continued education, etc. Some companies even go as far as to develop an in-house school to teach the company’s way of doing things. If the in-house school is good, it will promote confidence through consistency. Even if people leave the company, they will recommend your company because they know the quality of the work produced. Supporting the education needs of our workers is not only smart, it is good business.

2. Teach them the need for producing quality work; they should become intimate with all aspects of their work process (5W+H). Further, instill discipline and patience in their work effort.

3. Change their attitude towards development so they become more focused on delivering a quality end-product. This is perhaps the most difficult element to teach. However, it can be realized by having them become intimate with the needs of the customer (have them visit or work with a customer for awhile – “let them walk in the customer’s shoes”). It may also be necessary to change their form of remuneration by going to a reward system for work produced (as opposed to guaranteed income regardless of what is produced). Changing the mode of financial compensation is highly controversial in today’s business world. But, as an example, can you imagine the change of attitude of today’s professional athletes if they were paid based on their accomplishments (e.g., runs or points scored, hits, rebounds, etc.) rather than having a guaranteed income? Their motivation and attitude towards their profession and team would change radically.

Candidates must learn to respect their institution, the process by which they work, fellow human beings, and themselves. They must also learn not to be afraid to TRY; that they must put their best foot forward, win or lose. Bottom-line: they must learn that their work has meaning and worth. If they don’t enjoy their work, they shouldn’t be doing it.

“There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do.”
– President Theodore Roosevelt
Talk to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, Christmas-time 1898

Certification

Teaching the elements listed above probably cannot be done in one fell swoop. Further, companies simply don’t have the time or money to wait for the craftsman to be produced. Instead, they must understand the human spirit needs to be cultivated and be allowed to grow over time. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that an in-house certification program be devised specifying what the candidate should know and what skills and talents he should demonstrate. This should be divided into classes of progressive expertise; e.g., apprentice, intermediary, and craftsman. The ancient builders in Egypt, Rome, and Greece understood this concept and devised such classes of workmen. Other disciplines and schools follow similar tactics (the various degrees or belts in martial arts for example). Each degree is based on specific prerequisites to master before moving on to the next level.

An in-house certification program has the added nuance of making people feel special which greatly enhances their self esteem. If they are made to feel like a vital part of the company, regardless if their work of a large magnitude or trivial, they will strive to do what is best for the company overall, not just themselves. Consequently, their work adds meaning to their life.

There is one pitfall to all of this; today’s “go-go” management style fails to see how craftsmanship adds value to the company. In fact, there were companies back in the 1980’s that shut down such programs simply to reduce costs. As a result, quality suffered, repeat business was lost, products were more in need of repair, absenteeism on the job escalated, etc. Want value? How does a loyal customer base who has confidence in your products or services sound? And what effect would employee harmony have, particularly if they believed in the work they were producing? It would be mind-boggling, all because we had faith in the human spirit to produce superior results.

A final note: craftsmanship is not a one time thing. After it has been instilled in people, it has to be cultivated and perpetuated. If a manager slips even for a moment, it will go right out the window and it will take time to bring it back to life. As for me, I like to post motivational reminders kind of like the one recently spotted in the Hickey Freeman manufacturing facility in New York, “Excellence is Tolerated.”

“Manage more, supervise less.”
– Bryce’s Law

First published: January 10, 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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

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THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT AMERICA

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 10, 2018

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– What most of us already know, but don’t want to admit.

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As you get older, you discover there are fewer shades of gray in life. As you gain experience, you tend to see things more in terms of black-and-white. You now possess an appreciation of what works and what doesn’t, which is why people ask for your advice. Some would say you become less tolerant of others but the truth is you’ve simply been down that road before and don’t want to revisit it. From this, you learn the subtle truths of how the world works.

The United States is a beautiful concept; the land of opportunity founded as a Constitutional Republic. I have been fortunate to see many different systems around the world, but I believe we have it better than just about everyone else. However, we are not without faults, ugly truths about who we are and how we operate. It’s what makes us tick and provides insight into the American psyche.

What follows is what I refer to as the ugly truth of America; things we all know are true but don’t want to admit. Consequently, we have learned to accept them and adapted our lives accordingly.

1. Yes, Americans are not really happy with their lives. I tend to believe this is caused by the tension we are under, both financially and politically. Norway is considered the happiest country on the planet. The USA isn’t even in the Top 10; currently we are at #14, having dropped one point from 2016. Americans seem to be most happy when they score a personal victory, not necessarily as a team. For example, an individual will relish a job promotion even if the company is struggling to survive. Strange. As an aside, I didn’t see too many smiles during the recent holidays. Shoppers all seemed to be resigned to their fate and wore sour pusses on their faces. If you happen to greet someone pleasantly they typically look at you suspiciously.

2. Yes, there is a privileged class in America. As much as we would like to believe the law serves everyone equally, this is simply not true. Money and celebrity buys influence in this country and puts people above the law, if for no other reason they can purchase the finest legal minds in the country. Rarely are such people jailed. This also means America is a politically charged nation where advancement is based not necessarily on performance, but who you know and how you know them. We see this in companies, both commercial and nonprofit, as well as in government.

3. Yes, America embraces a drug culture. The country recently recognized opioid drugs as bad, but we somehow see no connection to marijuana. The reality is, America wants to remain high all the time and, as such, is the #1 consumer of drugs. To prove it, see how far you get trying to recall legislation regarding recreational or medicinal marijuana in this country.

4. Yes, Americans are addicted to technology. Even though it stunts our maturation process and empathy for others, our sense of humor and communication skills, and our ability to socialize, Americans cannot live without their personal technology. Then again, neither can most of the world.

5. Yes, Americans are historically ignorant. When you compare the USA to other countries, Americans are grossly in the dark regarding the past. This leads to misunderstandings regarding the principles of government (the Electoral College is an excellent example), and dooms us to commit prior mistakes repetitiously. It’s interesting, in an age where technology affords us 24/7 news and info, most millennials are ignorant of our past and how their country works. As the famed American historian David McCullough observed, “We are raising a generation that is historically illiterate and have a very sketchy, thin knowledge of the system on which our entire civilization is based on. It is regrettable and dangerous.”

6. Yes, the American public is sheeple. Most use limited brainpower in their daily affairs and, as such, are weak willed and can be easily manipulated by the media. This is likely related to their addiction to drugs and technology. Due to changing values, Americans today lack common sense. They do not want to know the truth, preferring instead only the news and information corresponding to their way of thinking. This is to be expected as the media is unable to offer the American people factual news, only spin.

7. Yes, the system is fixed. Donald Trump hit a hot button when he first brought this subject up in the 2016 election, but it is found not just in politics, but in just about everything else; e.g., job progression in companies and nonprofits. This explains why there are so many suck-ups in the land. Americans have been taught to lie and cheat at all costs to attain goals. Instead of living in a “win-win” environment whereby both parties can achieve prosperity together, we now live in an age of “win-lose” meaning we can only win at the cost of the other party losing.

8. Yes, Americans are reactionaries, not pro-active planners. We prefer allowing our opponents to knock us down before we are stirred to action. There are many examples to illustrate the point, e.g., Hurricane Katrina, Pearl Harbor, 911, the USS Maine, etc. This is a severe weakness we possess, something the rest of the world is cognizant of.

9. Yes, programmers control everything, be it our televisions, automobiles, communication devices, business equipment, etc. But know this, programmers will only do what is best for them, not the end-user. What is intuitive to the programmer is not so for the rest of us. Most useful tools are designed by accident, not on purpose. As such, they control the mindware of the public.

10. Yes, most Americans do not know how to drive. The USA is #1 in terms of automobile accidents, head-and-shoulders above everyone else. Because of self-absorption, we are preoccupied doing everything else other than driving cars in an alert manner; e.g., People texting and talking on the phone, eating, doing drugs or drinking, applying makeup, etc. Electric cars will likely cure this over time, another sign we are losing our freedom and independence.

11. Yes, American morality is in decline, representing a sign of decay to our culture. For example, loyalty is in decline and can be purchased by the highest bidder. Interest in organized religion and patriotism are also in decline. We also tend to lack empathy for others and consequently are self-absorbed. Our sense of right-and-wrong is split along political ideologies, thereby denoting the true division in the country.

One thing we are not is a nation of racists. We are a melting pot of people living in a highly competitive society. I cannot think of another country with as many different types of cultures, a true heterogeneous society where each group tries to outperform the others. Some respond positively to competition, others do not. I do not believe we are devoid of racism completely, it is inevitable in a mixed racial society, but there are probably more racists outside of the United States today than there are inside. I find the use of the “racist” label in America today is more of a diversionary tactic for political purposes as opposed to possessing any true substance.

Some will say America is a land where you cannot win. This is simply not true as the Constitution was deliberately designed to provide the individual with certain unalienable rights, particularly opportunity, yet there are no guarantees for success. This is the bedrock of capitalism.

Some will also accuse me of being a pessimist in my assessment of the United States, but I am not, as Twain would suggest, I am an optimist who hasn’t arrived 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 40 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 © 2018 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

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Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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