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Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

BRYCE LAUNCHES NEW BOOK, “HOW TO RUN A NONPROFIT”

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 9, 2019

BRYCE ON NEW “HOW TO” BOOK

– It doesn’t require rocket science.

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PALM HARBOR, FL (August 9, 2019) – Author and freelance writer Tim Bryce of Tampa Bay is pleased to announce the publication of his newest book, “How to Run a Nonprofit – It doesn’t require rocket science,” which is a how-to book designed to assist people in nonprofit organizations. Bryce is well known for his blog, “The Bryce is Right!” (timbryce.com), which includes essays published elsewhere in the press. In addition, he has authored several books including both fiction and nonfiction.

According to Bryce, “This is my fifteenth book, the purpose of which is to act as a guide to effectively run a nonprofit organization, be it a charitable, fraternal, religious, amateur sports, civic, social, veteran, political, professional trade, or homeowner/condominium association.” According to Bryce, he often hears from officers of such organizations, all complaining of the same problems, be it related to leadership, organization, membership, attendance, finances, records management, excessive politics, or whatever. He contends most of this is unnecessary and can be avoided with a little patience, common sense, and some good old-fashioned management.

There are obviously distinguishable nuances for each type of group, but this primarily resides in their mission statement. Otherwise, they are all fundamentally the same in terms of their operations and challenges.

Even worse, the press frequently writes horror stories of embezzlement, adversarial relationships with management companies, problems with lawyers, and primitive or nonexistent records management. True, these are fast-paced times in terms of changing technology, but it has always been so. However, Tim contends if you pay attention to the basics of management and have an eye for detail, you should be fine.

Bryce argues, “Let’s put our cards on the table; the biggest problem with most nonprofits is they are run by nice people, who mean well, but haven’t a clue as to what they are doing. This book is for anyone involved with a nonprofit, be it a new person, or someone about to assume an officer position. As such, it is a GREAT GIFT IDEA.”

Over the last 45 years, Tim has served on well over fifty Board of Directors for a multitude of nonprofits, serving in a variety of capacities, everything from President to Historian, Secretary, Finance Chairman, Division Director, Communications Chairman, and just a simple helper. As such, he hopes to describe the lessons he learned over the years. By profession, Bryce is also a management consultant who has taught planning, systems design, and project management to a wide variety of companies around the world.

This book is organized into the following sections:

CHAPTER 1 – A NONPROFIT IS A BUSINESS – some legalities to consider.

CHAPTER 2 – THE HUMAN SPIRIT – being sensitive to people.

CHAPTER 3 – MEETINGS – how to conduct properly.

CHAPTER 4 – MANAGING RECORDS & FINANCES – describing administrative details, including “checks and balances.”

CHAPTER 5 – COMMUNICATIONS – how to effectively communicate with the outside world.

CHAPTER 6 – BRYCE’S PLANNING SEMINAR – a special seminar to determine a nonprofit’s purpose and objectives.

CHAPTER 7 – PROJECT MANAGEMENT – how to plan, estimate, schedule, report and control projects.

CHAPTER 8 – ANOMALIES – describing difficult situations we often face in nonprofits, such as “Dealing with Deadbeats,” “Dealing with Politics,” “Management Companies,” handling “Vacancies in the Board,” “Improving membership and attendance,” “Feasibility Studies & Bids,” and much more.

Details on the Book:

ISBN: 9781082722172
151 pages
Price: $15 for printed version; $7.50 for Kindle e-Book (ASIN: B07VNT61CM) or PDF versions.
Published through Amazon, printed in the United States.

Where to place order; click HERE.

Mr. Bryce is available for lectures, book-signings, interviews, and after-dinner talks. He can be contacted at timb1557@gmail.com

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also do not forget my other new book, “Tim’s Senior Moments” now available in Printed and eBook form.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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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TIM’S CRASH COURSE ON ETHICS 101

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 23, 2019

BRYCE ON MORALITY

– Some suggestions.

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We all know basically what is right and wrong, but ethics requires a person with strength and character to implement them, something that is somewhat uncommon in this day and age. I’m not going to tell you to keep your word, or to be honest and lead an upright and respectable life; you should know this already. The question is, do you have the fortitude to do so?

Perhaps these simple guidelines will help:

1. Learn to say, “No.” It is an incredibly powerful word and something we do not say enough of. At times it may seem awkward and uncomfortable to say, but learn to say “No” nonetheless.

2. Avoid politics and religion in the workplace. Employers do not want to disrupt the harmony of the workplace. Consequently, avoid such discussion. However, once your are off-site, you are free to discuss whatever you want; we live in a free country.

3. Go the extra mile, avoid the temptation to take the easy way out. Short cuts may seem nice, but following the right path is more rewarding in the long run.

4. Write a code of conduct defining how employees are to behave on the job.

5. Recognize and reward ethical behavior; Penalize bad behavior.

6. Report indiscretions, either internally within your company, or to external sources, such as the Better Business Bureau. As a tip, make sure it is well documented. Don’t want to report it? Then don’t complain or whine about it to others (shutup).

7. Participate in and promote organized discussions on ethics, either in the office, at home, in school, in civic groups, on the Internet, or wherever. Raise the consciousness on ethics.

8. Last but not least, lead by example. Become a role model for how you want others to behave.

And God, No, don’t let the government get involved with teaching ethics. That would be like allowing the inmates to run the asylum.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Don’t forget my new book, “Tim’s Senior Moments” now available in Printed and eBook form.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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, Morality | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

REQUEST FOR WHATEVER (RFW)

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 18, 2019

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– A fair and equitable process? Hardly.

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If you have ever served in a sales position for a major company, you will inevitably come across a request from a government agency to make a bid for their business, be it at the federal, state or local level. This is typically called an RFP (Request for Proposal), an RFI (Request for Information), an RFQ (Request for Quotation) or, as I like to call it, an RFW (Request for Whatever). I say this because I do not have a lot of respect for these bid processes and have found they are more rigged for a particular vendor than they are honest requests for competitive business. Government agencies perform RFW’s to try and demonstrate to the public they are being fair and forthright in their bidding process, but the reality is you really don’t have a chance of winning the contract unless you already have the inside track.

We’ve done our fair share of RFW’s over the years. We’ve won some, but also lost many others. For example, there was one state government where we had two agencies who had already purchased our products. When the state wanted to have all of their agencies and departments purchase similar products, we thought we had the inside track due to the two agencies. We then went about the process of producing a comprehensive and professional response to the RFW, and at a reasonable price I might add. The size of the contract was such that just about everyone in our office dropped what they were doing in order to concentrate on the RFW. We felt pretty good about the proposal we produced and confident we would be the winning bid. However, despite all of our efforts, we lost the contract which went to a competitor with a greatly inferior product. Only years later did we find out that our competitor had a local salesman who wined and dined the state’s evaluation team, even going so far as to arrange for some hookers to take an “active” part in the selection process. In other words, we never stood a chance.

I don’t mind losing on a level playing field, but when the chips are stacked against you before you even get started, my Scottish blood begins to boil. This little episode forced us to rethink our policy on RFW’s and, as a result, we no longer waste our time on them. If someone wants our products, we instruct them to use the “sole source” designation, meaning they must declare we are the only vendor who offers this type of product. This works fine for us, but think about it, the government is stacking the deck against others by doing this. None of this sounds very fair or honest does it? But this is what happens when you try to pacify the public.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Don’t forget my new book, “Tim’s Senior Moments” now available in Printed and eBook form.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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 | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

DEALING WITH MANAGEMENT FADS

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 9, 2019

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– It is when we forget about people that we get into trouble.

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When it comes to management, businesses are too often seduced by the latest gimmick and gizmo. For example, I have been recently reading about the latest corporate fads for management, such as: voting for the boss; reinventing the budget committee; setting up Wikis for the customer; predictive analytics; global team building; agile programming; “holacracy” (management by democracy); knowledge transfer; and the list goes on and on. Now, I will admit there are a couple of good ideas scattered throughout this mumbo jumbo, but I tend to believe we go overboard on the absurd and overlook the obvious. For some reason, people find the allure of smoke and mirrors more irresistible than common sense. Perhaps they confuse “quackery” with the “state of the art.”

Unfortunately, the one concept commonly overlooked is that management is a people oriented function, not a technical or administrative function; it’s about people. Management is about getting people to do what you want them to do, when you want them to do it, and how you want it done. Face it, we get things done through people, not through machines which are nothing more than mechanical leverage in our work effort. Like it or not, business is about people. Management, therefore, should be less concerned with the latest gadget or slight of hand, and more with mastering people skills.

When companies become consumed by fads, I think they tend to overlook the fundamentals of management; for example:

* Interpersonal communications/relations skills – speaking, writing, persuasion, negotiating, interviewing, diplomacy, etc.

* Instituting discipline and organization, (as opposed to free-spirited mavericks that are stubbornly independent).

* If you want teamwork, you should first learn about coaching and leadership.

* How to control the corporate culture, including decorum, protocol, ethics, as well as the effect of physical surroundings. This includes professional courtesy extended to workers, customers, vendors, and prospective clients.

* Establishing and managing priorities and deadlines. This includes how to become less reactive and more proactive in planning processes.

* Promoting pride in workmanship (craftsmanship); this includes defining methodologies (assembly lines) and properly equipping and training workers thereby creating a sense of belonging and ownership of the work product.

* How to fairly and equitably evaluate, compensate and discipline worker performance.

* How to empower people by delegating responsibility, motivating them, and holding them accountable for their actions. In other words, teach the workers to assume more responsibility and supervise themselves.

It is these skills that move mountains, not the latest wrinkle from Microsoft, Apple, smart phones, or some other harebrained scheme. Management is actually quite simple and goes back to the moral values we were all taught as kids, but, unfortunately, the human being for some reason tries to make things more complicated than they need to be. Basic management may lack flash and sizzle, it may not be couched in esoteric concepts and terminology, but you know what? It works.

No Virginia, there is no panacea.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Don’t forget my new book, “Tim’s Senior Moments” now available in Printed and eBook form.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

HOW ABOUT SOME LOYALTY REWARDS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 4, 2019

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– What freebies do we get for being a long-time member? ZIP.

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On a recent visit to my gym, the manager had erected an inflatable air-dancer puppet by the front door along with a sign encouraging membership. Under the program, they waived the initial sign-up fee, as well as the first month’s membership fee. Added to this was two free sessions with a trainer and a t-shirt. Okay, fine, I get it, they want new members. What about those of us who have loyally paid their bills but didn’t receive any freebies? I paid all of the initial fees and have been a regular-paying member for three years now. What have I received? Zip.

I have seen this same phenomenon over the years, particularly with magazines. We used to regularly subscribe to a multitude of magazines, including news and sports. For many years we paid the full rate and received no “freebies.” Then, in the 1990’s, as printed magazines started to succumb to the Internet, they offered a myriad of gifts, such as clocks, radios, cameras, special edition publications, etc. Again, what did the long-term subscriber receive? Zip.

Credit cards typically allow you to earn points for such things as travel and gifts, but there is still no loyalty incentive. Not long ago, I had a minor problem I reported to one of my credit card companies. The agent I talked with on the phone pulled up my records on his computer and said, “Oh, Mr. Bryce, I see you’ve been a member of ours for over thirty years now; Wow!” His reaction led me to believe I had been a member longer than the agent had been alive.

I had called the company to make a simple correction to a payment I had made (something incredibly minor). The agent said he would have to have it reviewed with management before he could update the correct entry (even though he recognized I had been correct). When he said it would take a month or two to correct, I told them if they wanted to keep me for another thirty years, he better make the change in the next thirty seconds or I will cancel my membership. Instead of trying to correct the problem right then and there, he said there was nothing he could do. In other words, he called my bluff. Regrettably, I wasn’t bluffing and cancelled forthwith.

I was amazed they were willing to let a long-term customer go, but this is not the only time I have seen this occur. I have had to do similar actions with banks, trash collectors, phone companies, and cable companies (which I think are perhaps the worst). I have changed cable operators at least a dozen times over the years, going to a cable operator who was offering new members lower rates. I guess they count on the older customers to just grin and bear it. I do not.

Like I said, I understand the need for a “come-on” to engage new customers, but what is the benefit of remaining a loyal customer over a number of years? Zip. This is why it is becoming more common for people to quit a service, only to return to it later to get the new cheaper rates, and any “freebies” along the way. To me, this sounds like a “make work” scenario and is certainly not smart from a customer service and sales perspective.

There should be some sort of benefit for customer loyalty, maybe something simple at first, and something more pronounced later. As a company, imagine the cash flow from a loyal clientele, but people do not think long-term anymore, just “quick and dirty” (or is it “agile”?). I know this mindset disturbs managers and executives who hate to lose market share. Let me give you an example…

A few years ago, I had a manager from a cable company come to my neighborhood. He knocked on my door to ask why I had quit his company. I told him I recently saw an increase on my bill, and another cable company offering comparable service at a less-expensive rate. I talked with one of his company’s agents and asked if they could match the lower price. Of course, the agent said “No,” but perhaps worse, there was no concern for the possible loss of business. The manager shook his head in disbelief. “If I met the price right now, would you switch back to us?” he asked.

I told him, No, for two reasons; first, the installation of the new service had recently been completed and I was in no mood to change it again, and; second, I was offended by the disregard the company showed for their loyal customers. He thanked me for my time, but went away frustrated with his own company.

Interestingly, the same phenomenon happened with the new cable provider; rates increased progressively until I decided to go to a new cable provider. Again, the agent did nothing to retain my business.

If companies started to implement a true loyalty program based on length of service, fewer customers would drop service, meaning less maintenance costs, and improved profit-margin.

Then again, I am still a creature of the 20th century.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Don’t forget my new book, “Tim’s Senior Moments” now available in Printed and eBook form.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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: , , , , | 4 Comments »

THE TROUBLE WITH JOB INTERVIEWS

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 21, 2019

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– How about some pertinent questions instead?

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

Something that really irritates me in the corporate world today is how companies interview candidates for a job. Instead of having you describe who you are, what you’ve done in your professional life, and what skills you possess, Human Resource types today ask questions like:

“Where do you want to be five years from now?”

“How do you handle pressure?”

“How do you deal with conflict?”

“Tell me something nobody knows about you.”

“Did you notice the receptionist outside had six fingers?”

“What is your favorite color?”

“If you were an animal, what would you be?”

Instead of getting to the meat and potatoes of what the person knows, interviewers are asking pseudo-psychological questions aimed at examining the personality of the candidate. It kind of reminds me of the asinine question Barbara Walters asked of movie stars years ago, “If you were a tree, what kind would you be?”

These questions are aimed at determining what your personality type is (such as A, B, C, D) and how you present yourself, e.g., how articulate you can present an argument, and how well you can fit in with the corporate culture.

Instead of dancing around the issue, and using amateur psychological techniques, why don’t they just ask for a psychological profile of the candidate instead, as prepared by accredited professionals? Somehow the interviewing questions asked today remind me of the neurotic Personnel Manager, Granville Sawyer, in the movie classic “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Another interviewing phenomenon I have trouble with is what is now called “speed interviewing,” which I’m told is derived from “speed dating,” whereby a number of people are interviewed briefly in a rotational format. It kind of reminds me of how people audition for a reality show and other entertainment contests. It might be nice for a first blush, but hardly a way of honestly getting to know someone.

The last thing I think is lacking in interviewing is professional courtesy. It used to be if you sent in a job application, you would get a written note acknowledging the company received it and what they intended do with it, which perhaps was nothing. Further, after an interview, the candidate would be sent a letter thanking him/her for their time and let them know what their status was. However, you don’t see such letters anymore, not even in this age of e-mail. To me, this says a lot about the professionalism of the employer, which is probably not very good.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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 »

DEATH OF THE BUSINESS LETTER

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 11, 2019

BRYCE ON COMMUNICATIONS

– Texting is destroying our ability to communicate effectively on a corporate basis.

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

I have noticed I do not get much mail anymore from the post office. Of course, I still get bills and junk mail, but aside from this, little else. I surmise only a handful of people know how to write a business letter anymore. Most of the true correspondence I get nowadays is by e-mail and telephone (both of which have their share of junk).

When you do get a business letter today, it is typically poorly written in terms of style, layout, and grammar. I know we have made a lot of progress in word processing technology over the years, but it sure seems people do not know how to run such things as spelling and grammar checkers. I think the real culprit here though is text messaging which has basically annihilated any sense of syntax and word formation.

Now, instead of this…

Dear Sir,

It was a pleasure talking with you today.  Concerning your order, I have made the correction and credited your
account accordingly.  Thank you for bringing this to my attention.  If I can be of any further assistance, 
please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

We now have this…

Dude,
don't tabooma. cy. all is kewl. cm.
stys
plo

Actually, I don’t blame the younger generations for these bad writing habits as they are only innocent victims of technology. Instead, I blame my generation for not teaching them how to communicate properly in a corporate setting.

I first learned to write business letters in my high school typing class and have written numerous letters over the years. However, the kids today do not take typing anymore and are definitely not familiar with writing for business. Text messaging may be fine for quick and dirty interpersonal communications, but it also leads to some horrible writing habits. I do not care what your age is, a well written business letter can work miracles in terms of sales and service. Too bad it is slowly disappearing from the corporate landscape.

NOTE: for text messaging syntax, see NetLingo.

One last note, it has been proven that old techniques like Shorthand and Morse Code can record and transmit messages a lot faster than any electronic technique used today. Who-da-thunk-it!

First published: September 22, 2008. Updated 2019

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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, Communications, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FIRST LESSONS IN JOINING THE WORK FORCE

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 26, 2019

BRYCE ON LIFE

– “Got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues, and you know it don’t come easy.” – Ringo Starr

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

My book, “MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD – A Handbook for Entering the Work Force,” is designed to help young people make the transition from school, be it high school or college, into the work force.

In my introduction, I indoctrinate the young reader into the first basic truths we must all face as we enter adulthood:

* You are entitled to nothing. If you want something, you are going to have to go out and earn it.

* Nothing is free. Forget what the promotion says, people do not offer something without wanting something in return.

* Life is not fair. In fact it can be downright cruel and dehumanizing. Keep in mind, with rare exception, companies are not democracies; they are dictatorships. As such, they operate at the whims of the person in charge.

* Becoming an adult means assuming responsibility, be it on the personal or professional sides of our lives. Knowing this, put your best face on and act like a professional, someone you want others to respect.

* Becoming an adult also means making decisions. In theory, if you make 51% of your decisions correctly, you will be successful. Also, do not procrastinate; if you do not make a decision, the decision will be made for you (and probably not to your liking).

* If anything in life is constant, it is change. Some you will like, others will have trouble swallowing. Nonetheless learn to accommodate change. Learn and adapt.

* People act on their perceptions, regardless if they are valid or not. As an old systems man, I can tell you authoritatively, if the input is wrong, everything that follows will also be wrong. Don’t jump to conclusions; always seek the truth.

* The only good business relationship is when both parties benefit (aka “Win-Win” relationship). Avoid situations where one party benefits at the expense of the other (aka “Win-Lose” relationship).

* Everything begins with a sale. All of our efforts, regardless of how mundane they may seem, should be geared towards producing income for the company. Without sales, everything else will eventually come to a halt.

* There is only one problem with common sense, it is not very common. The obvious is not obvious to a lot of people. You will undoubtedly discover that decisions are based more on emotion as opposed to logic.

* Your personal and professional lives are one and the same. Some people like to separate the two, but the fact remains, there is only one you.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a thought from a good friend of mine who survived over thirty years of corporate politics:

“You cannot move to the top of the ladder by breaking rungs and breaking rules….
we all must move through the learnings, the little successes, the disappointments, to develop and grow.”

– Michael B. Snyder

Originally published: October 1, 2012

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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, Life, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

THE ELEMENTS OF A GOOD FEASIBILITY STUDY

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 21, 2019

BRYCE ON PLANNING

– Let us look before we leap.

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“Those who do not do their homework do not graduate.” – Bryce’s Law

In its simplest form, a Feasibility Study represents a definition of a problem or opportunity to be studied, an analysis of the current mode of operation, a definition of requirements, an evaluation of alternatives, and an agreed upon course of action. As such, the activities for preparing a Feasibility Study are generic in nature and can be applied to any type of project, be it for systems and software development, making an acquisition, or any other project. It is equally applicable in business, nonprofit institutions, and at all levels of government. Frankly, if you are going to do anything of substance, it is wise to perform a Feasibility Study. Instead of looking at it as a series of a regimented steps, it is a thinking process for specifying needs, assessing risk, and making an intelligent decision. Basically, it is nothing more than common sense.

There are basically six parts to any effective Feasibility Study:

1. The PROJECT SCOPE which is used to define the business problem and/or opportunity to be addressed. The old adage, “The problem well stated is half solved,” is very apropos. The Scope should be definitive and to the point; rambling narrative serves no purpose and can actually confuse project participants. It is also necessary to define the parts of the business affected either directly or indirectly, including project participants and end-user areas affected by the project. The project sponsor should be identified, particularly if he/she is footing the bill.

I have seen too many projects in the corporate world started without a well defined Project Scope. Consequently, projects have wandered in and out of their boundaries causing them to produce either far too much or far too little than what is truly needed.

2. The CURRENT ANALYSIS is used to define and understand the current method of implementation, such as a system, a product, etc. From this analysis, it is not uncommon to discover there is actually nothing wrong with the current system or product other than some misunderstandings regarding it or perhaps it needs some simple modifications as opposed to a major overhaul. Also, the strengths and weaknesses of the current approach are identified (pros and cons). In addition, there may very well be elements of the current system or product that may be used in its successor thus saving time and money later on. Without such analysis, this may never be discovered.

Analysts are cautioned to avoid the temptation to stop and correct any problems encountered in the current system at this time. Simply document your findings instead, otherwise you will spend more time unnecessarily in this stage (aka “Analysis Paralysis”).

3. REQUIREMENTS – how requirements are defined depends on the object of the project’s attention. For example, how requirements are specified for a product are substantially different than requirements for an edifice, a bridge, or an information system. Each exhibits totally different properties and, as such, are defined differently. How you define requirements for software is also substantially different than how you define them for systems. (See, “Understanding the Specifications Puzzle”).

4. The APPROACH represents the recommended solution or course of action to satisfy the requirements. Here, various alternatives are considered along with an explanation as to why the preferred solution was selected. In terms of design related projects, it is here where whole rough designs (e.g., “renderings”) are developed in order to determine viability. It is also at this point where the use of existing structures and commercial alternatives are considered (e.g., “build versus buy” decisions). The overriding considerations though are:

* Does the recommended approach satisfy the requirements?
* Is it also a practical and viable solution? (Will it “Play in Poughkeepsie?”)

A thorough analysis here is needed in order to perform the next step…

5. EVALUATION – examines the cost effectiveness of the Approach selected. This begins with an analysis of the estimated total cost of the project. In addition to the recommended solution, other alternatives are estimated in order to offer an economic comparison. For development projects, an estimate of labor and out-of-pocket expenses is assembled along with a project schedule showing the project path and start-and-end dates.

After the total cost of the project has been calculated, a cost and evaluation summary is prepared which includes such things as a cost/benefit analysis, return on investment, etc.

6. REVIEW – all of the preceding elements are then assembled into a Feasibility Study and a formal review is conducted with all parties involved. The review serves two purposes: to substantiate the thoroughness and accuracy of the Feasibility Study, and to make a project decision; either approve it, reject it, or ask that it be revised before making a final decision. If approved, it is very important that all parties sign the document which expresses their acceptance and commitment to it; it may be a seemingly small gesture, but signatures carry a lot of weight later on as the project progresses. If the Feasibility Study is rejected, the reasons for its rejection should be explained and attached to the document.

CONCLUSION

It should be remembered that a Feasibility Study is more of a way of thinking as opposed to a bureaucratic process. For example, what I have just described is essentially the same process we all follow when purchasing an automobile or a home. As the scope of the project grows, it becomes more important to document the Feasibility Study particularly if large amounts of money are involved and/or the criticality of delivery. Not only should the Feasibility Study contain sufficient detail to carry on to the next succeeding phase in the project, but it should also be used for comparative analysis when preparing the final Project Audit which analyzes what was delivered versus what was proposed in the Feasibility Study.

Feasibility Studies represent a commonsense approach to planning. Frankly, it is just plain good business to conduct them. However, I have read where some people, particularly government legislators and people in the I.T. field, consider Feasibility Studies to be a colossal waste of time. In their haste, they will sincerely claim, “We don’t have time to do things right.” Translation: “We have plenty of time to do things wrong.”

First published: March 20, 2008, updated in 2019.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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 IS A STATE OF MIND

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 14, 2019

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– It is also a universally applicable concept.

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

I have been writing on the virtues of craftsmanship for many years now. I have also given presentations on the subject and discussed it at length with different types of companies. Surprisingly, I find few people truly understand the concept. Perhaps the biggest misconception is that it is reserved for certain types of work effort. Some believe craftsmen are limited to furniture makers, machinists, or watchmakers. And, No, we are most certainly not talking about a line of tools from Sears. People seem surprised when I explain it is a universal concept applicable to any job. My message is simple: “Craftsmanship is a state of mind.”

Years ago, Arnold Toynbee, the legendary historian and economist from the UK, made the observation, “The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” Whereas some people like to separate their personal and professional lives, Toynbee rightfully makes the point there is physically only one person, and their personal and professional lives should be viewed as one and the same.

Craftsmanship is based on three rather simple principles:

First, in order to build self-esteem and give an individual a sense of purpose, we need to acknowledge, “Man must lead a worthy life.” This means people should be given meaningful work to perform, thereby creating the desire to master one’s craft. However, not everyone can be a wood worker, machinist, or watchmaker. Instead, they must find meaning in their chosen profession, which leads to our next principle…

Second, “There is dignity in all forms of work.” We should never look down our noses at anyone’s profession, assuming they are doing it competently and professionally. Regardless of the task, it is always a pleasure to be among people who know what they are doing, and perform it seemingly with little effort and a sense of class. In contrast, there are also workers who are apathetic, put forth minimal effort, and only watch the clock as opposed to the work product they are assigned to. Personally, it is difficult to respect such people.

Third, a simple recognition there are “right” and “wrong” ways for performing tasks. It takes discipline not to skip steps and put the work product in jeopardy. Understanding the differences between “right” and “wrong” is more than just training and experience, it also represents the morality of the worker. One reason craftsmanship is in decline is because of the eroding moral values of the country, such as the inclination to cheat.

These principles highlight the fact that craftsmanship is universally applicable. We can find it in any industry and any type of work, be it janitors, waitresses, programmers, managers, assembly line workers, hairdressers, teachers, engineers, athletes, musicians, the medical community, you name it. Craftsmanship is a state of mind. Think about it, who has impressed you not only by the job they did, but how they went about doing it? Inevitably, it is someone you respect, someone you will gladly give a reference to, someone you would like to emulate.

Craftsmanship requires more than just talent, it is a determination to be the best someone can be. Not surprising, there is a close relationship between craftsmen and the products they produce. Expressions such as “I built that” or “That was mine,” denote the pride they take in their work. Conversely, when someone makes a compliment about a product or service, the craftsman takes it as a personal compliment. The bond between craftsman and work product is so strong, the worker sees the product as tangible proof of their quality of work.

Years ago, people learned their craft through apprenticeship programs. Ben Franklin learned to be a printer at his older brother’s print shop. Likewise, young men learned a variety of crafts through such programs. Over the years though, we have drifted away from apprenticeships. Today, we rely on certification programs and college degrees, but this does not necessarily make someone a craftsman. It only denotes the student has learned something and passed tests and exams. Rarely does it give us insight into a person’s mastery of a craft, which cannot normally be evaluated until it is put into practice and studied over time.

In terms of skills, the craftsman must master several things:

* The resources used in the product. For example, a wood worker will know the differences between types of wood, their strengths and weaknesses, their suitability for the product, and how to work with it. Likewise, a machinist will understand the nature of the different metals he must use in his work.

* The methodologies to produce the product, representing the steps or processes of the project.

* The tools and techniques to be used in the development of the product, all of which may change over time. This means the craftsman is a student of his profession and possesses a sense of history to his craft.

Craftsmanship is something we have taken for granted for many years. Consequently, it has been fading from view. Interestingly, when I teach these concepts to students and business professionals, they are usually surprised by the simplicity of the concepts involved. I warn them though that craftsmanship requires a personality which includes such things as discipline, an intuitive mind, pride in workmanship, a willingness to be the best in your chosen profession, and some good old fashioned morality. Craftsmanship is not for everybody, but we should celebrate those willing to lead such an existence, for they are the people who create the products we admire and cherish.

For more information, see my earlier paper, “Craftsmanship: the Meaning of Life.”

If you want a presentation on craftsmanship, please do not hesitate to contact me.

First published: February 26, 2014

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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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