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Archive for the ‘Management’ Category

ESTIMATING – GETTING IT RIGHT

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 20, 2017

BRYCE ON PROJECT MANAGEMENT

– No Virginia, there is no magic in producing a project estimate.

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

It seems every now and then someone comes along with a new spin on how to estimate a project, either in its entirety or a portion of it. I have heard a lot of theories over the years, particularly in the Information Technology (I.T.) field where there is a tendency to pull numbers out of a hat, but I’ve long given up looking for panaceas. Actually, I have always regarded estimating as a relatively simple task and have taken my queue from the construction industry who has had to frequently produce reliable estimates over the years. As such, there are basically three variables involved:

* Methodology – defines the stages of work by which projects are completed, from beginning to end. Some portions of the project will be executed serially, others in parallel, either way, each stage should define precisely what work has to be accomplished to the types of components involved. Typically, components are identified, designed, tested, and installed in moderation which is commonly referred to as “stepwise refinement” (going from the general to the specific) as prescribed by the methodology.

* The components involved – in the construction field, it is the wood, stone, glass, nails, rivets, steel beams, etc. to be used to construct a building. In the I.T. field it is the data elements, records, files, input, outputs, programs, business processes, etc. The methodology dictates the sequence by which the components are implemented. A component assembled at the wrong time and place will likely prove disastrous, which is why the methodology is so important. To make this work, it is necessary to produce a rough design of the object in question. For construction, it would mean a complete rough design of a building, aka, “artist rendering.” In I.T., it would mean a complete rough design of a system or program. Only after the rough design has been completed can a listing of the components be identified.

Another consideration is the state of the components, how many are new versus how many can be reused from other projects. To illustrate, if there are already preexisting nuts and bolts to satisfy the product, they certainly can be reused; if not, new nuts and bolts have to be designed. Within a systems development project, if a data element such as “Customer Number” has already been invented and implemented, there is no point in introducing a redundant component; developers should simply reuse the existing data element. Such reusability of components not only expedites development time, but promotes integration of different products.

“Bill of Material Processors” (BOMP) are commonly used to keep track of components, be it in the construction field or I.T.

* The skill of the people charged with executing the project. A novice worker will obviously take longer to perform a given task than an experienced expert. This is also why it is preferable to have the people charged with the work participate in the estimating process as it becomes a reflection of their commitment. In a situation where project personnel are unknown, the Project Manager can still render an estimate based on “averages” defining the amount of time necessary to build a component for a given task. As projects are executed, the actual time expended to complete a component for a specific task should be captured so such averages can be refined based on historical data.

This approach to estimating is universally applicable to any product development based project. It is based on the recognition that most estimating errors are errors of omission, not commission. It is the forgotten or overlooked components that lead to most estimating errors. Again, this is why the rough design is so vital as it will overcome the problem of omissions. As in any construction project, a rough architectural design is required to effectively estimate the project to build it. The same is true in I.T. projects where the objective is to build a new system. To do so, a complete rough design of the system must first be prepared to effectively estimate the remainder of the project.

This approach also distinguishes the use of time as either “direct” or “indirect.” Whereas direct time represents whole work, indirect time represents interferences detracting from project execution. Estimates should be expressed in direct time, not indirect time, as we want to know the amount of pure effort needed to complete a component and task. This approach to time also implies estimating and scheduling are separate activities. Whereas, direct time is used to express estimates, indirect time is used to calculate schedules. For example, if an estimate for a project task is ten direct hours, and a worker is only able to spend four direct hours of work each day (with another four indirect hours spent elsewhere during the day), the task should be completed in 2.5 working days. Separating time into “direct” and “indirect” greatly improves precision in both estimates and schedules.

Here is a typical scenario for estimating a product related project, be it construction, I.T., manufacturing related, or whatever:

1. Specify and analyze requirements.

2. Prepare a rough design of a product to satisfy the requirements.

3. Prepare an itemized listing of components to be used in the product, aka, “Bill of Materials,” identifying which are new and which can be reused.

4. Based on the materials, define the remaining stages of work to develop the product (the methodology).

5. Estimate the amount of time necessary to complete the various stages. If project personnel are known, have them participate in the estimating process.

6. After the estimate has been defined, calculate the project schedule based on the methodology and use of time (direct vs. indirect).

7. Review with the client for approval.

This approach is certainly not new and has been used for many years in a variety of industries. Ultimately it represents a complete mental execution of the project in order to determine costs. This is essentially no different than what a professional golfer does before swinging his club on a drive; he visualizes everything from how he is to swing the club, the follow through, to where he wants the ball to land, and the ensuing strokes necessary to complete the hole. Preparing a rough design is no different. It is thinking the project through to completion by considering all of the components needed to satisfy the product. Will it be perfect? No, but it will be more accurate than making wild guesses based on some wild pseudoscientific calculation. The only drawback to it though is it requires some hard work in upfront planning and design; it is certainly not a panacea, but then again, there never has been any magic in estimating that I know of.

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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  IT IS TIME FOR THE REPUBLICANS TO FLEX THEIR MUSCLES – No more excuses; let’s roll!

LAST TIME:  MY TRIP TO THE GYM  – Things have changed over the years.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

IN PRAISE OF MENTORING PROGRAMS

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 13, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Once almost extinct, mentoring programs are making a comeback.

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

Mentoring has been a part of the corporate world for many years. When a young person came on board, someone would be assigned to him/her to offer advice. Not just anyone could be a mentor either, they had to demonstrate knowledge and skills for a specific line of work. Most enjoyed being a mentor as they saw it as a sort of “Big Brother/Sister.” From a corporate perspective, it was hoped the senior person would also pass on such things as ethics and decorum, basically a lot of “do’s” and “don’ts” thereby expediting the young person’s maturation and acclimation into the corporate culture and groom the next generation of employees in a smooth and consistent manner. Unfortunately, things started to go awry by the 1990’s whereby mentoring not only disappeared from the corporate landscape, but generational warfare erupted pitting the older workers against their younger counterparts. You could blame this on a variety of things, such as the bean counters who eliminated mentoring and training programs in order to save a buck or two, or on radical changes in Information Technology whereby older workers understood mainframes and legacy systems, while the younger workers rebelled with PC’s and networking. Regardless, an adversarial relationship emerged by the latter part of the 20th century.

Interestingly, mentoring is making a comeback in the corporate world, but it’s not quite the same as before. True, the older employees are taking the younger people under their wings, but there isn’t the same trust between mentor and protégé as there was years ago. Due to changing socioeconomic conditions in our country, both sides are suspicious of the other. Older workers are concerned that the young “upstarts” are going to force them out to pasture. Younger workers are also cognizant the older workers can no longer afford to retire and, as such, are working longer thereby complicating an already overcrowded job market. In other words, the young apprentice of today may become tomorrow’s adversary which, in turn, puts into question the advice being given by the mentor and the young person’s reception to it.

The chemistry between the mentor and protégé is important. Minor incompatibilities are to be expected, particularly between generations, but major differences will cause the mentoring program to become counter productive. One party has to be willing to teach, and the other has to be willing to learn; one has to be credible and authoritative, and the other must possess an inquisitive mind. If there is a clash of personalities or the parties involved put forth minimal effort, the program will self-destruct. This of course means there should be some administrative control over the mentoring program, particularly in the assignment of people and monitoring progress.

I do not know which duty is more difficult, the mentor or the mentee (the protégé). Both carry different responsibilities:

As to the mentee, when you consider the level of competition in the world today, it is your duty as the apprentice or student to challenge your mentor or coach and exceed their expectations, to go beyond them and move to the next level of your personal development. Simply satisfying the status quo is not sufficient, you must strive to rise above it, otherwise your development will stagnate and you will disappoint your mentor.

The person selected to become mentor should be mature and understand the responsibility he/she is being asked to perform. If they cannot devote the necessary time to it or makes light of the responsibility, there is little hope for success. The mentor must grasp the significance of the job and push the protégé to grow beyond their current capabilities. As such, be careful not to give misleading advice. Know your limitations and encourage the protégé to find their next stage of development. If not with you, then another.

The mentor program has a lot of benefits, but like anything, it depends on how much effort is exerted to make it successful. A mentor in name only is not a reliable program. It must be carefully thought out and administered to assure it is working. Key to this is the match up of mentor and mentee. Again, not everybody possess the skills for being a mentor, and not every young person can accept advice and constructive criticism. Then again, the person’s ability to adapt to the company should have been a consideration as part of their hire.

Mentoring is more than just passing on important knowledge, it’s passing on the culture of the company, the history of the industry, and survival tips for life in general. If the mentor has done a good job, he should be thanked with some small token of appreciation, by both the mentee and the company. As a young person, you would be wise to remember all of the people who helped you on your journey through life. After all, you carry with you a little bit of each person who has guided you.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  WHERE ARE THE ADULTS? – While liberals run amok, the Republicans are firmly in control.

LAST TIME:  CLEANING MY SOCK DRAWER  – What I found 25 years later or “How to upset the sock gods.”

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TRAVEL EXPENSE REPORT?

Posted by Tim Bryce on February 1, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Are your employees abusing travel expenses?

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

Recently, I have been hearing stories regarding the abuse of corporate travel expenses, not just in small businesses but in large Fortune 500 companies as well. For example, lavish dinners and libations are being charged during the course of non-sales related events; unauthorized gifts are being purchased for family members; employees being sent to seminars and meetings, only to blow-off the meeting to return home early; and several other indiscretions.

It used to be, managers would scrutinize travel expense reports carefully before approving them for payment, but this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. The abuse of travel expenses is a serious matter as it can be costly to companies, yet some are treating it like a fringe benefit. If left unchecked, travel expenses can drive any company into the poor house.

Policies regarding travel expenses should be spelled out in a company manual of some kind, be it a policy manual, employee handbook, or something from Human Resources. Such a manual should clearly define what expenses the company will assume, and what they will not. This includes limits of daily costs for lodging, transportation, and meals. If the employee went over the prescribed limit, they were responsible for assuming the expense.

What worries me though, is that some managers are no longer checking the expense reports for excesses, and just rubber stamp them off their desk. To make matters worse, employees can become offended if you question them about an expense, particularly Millennials. It is like they are entitled to the expense for traveling on the company’s behalf.

One way of verifying expenses is to simply attach paperwork to the expense report, particularly receipts. To substantiate an employee’s participation at an event, it is wise to ask for a “trip report” detailing what the employee did at the event and what was learned. If the employee attended a workshop or class, proof of participation should be included, such as a certificate or letter of accomplishment. The point is, no paperwork, no reimbursement.

The one problem here is in the area of smart phones where purchases can be recorded on the fly without any printed receipts, including travel tickets, and hotel expenses. This may be convenient for purchasing such items, but the employee should still be held accountable for producing the necessary paperwork. Digital expense reports may be convenient for the employee to use, but they may not be adequate for recording all of the related documentation.

Thanks to the Internet and smart phones, employees are spending more time making their own travel plans. This does two things: it distracts them from their normal job, and; they do not necessarily find the best travel deals, thereby wasting more money. This is why a corporate travel planner is important, to get the best deals while saving time for the employee.

I guess what I do not understand is all of the hubbub regarding travel expense reports, which is actually quite simple to do. Managers have a fiduciary responsibility to manage such expenses, and implementing them should be a no-brainer. As much as you may want to empower employees, they should obviously not be given carte blanche to do whatever they want. This would be a recipe for disaster.

One last note, should an employee ask indignantly, “Why do you want this documentation, don’t you trust me?” I would make it clear to the person, “If you insist on wasting the company’s money, NO, I do not trust you.”

Also published with The Huffington Post.

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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  BASEBALL CARDS – Are they a commodity or a memento of our youth?

LAST TIME:  TECHNOLOGY CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM  – Farewell to the “Greatest Show on Earth.”

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

FACING REALITY

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 27, 2017

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– People plain and simply don’t want to know it.

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

Telling the truth has gotten me into a lot of trouble on more than one occasion over the years, both personally and professionally. So much so that I have come to the conclusion that people plain and simply don’t want to know it. For starters, it’s hard to know when someone is telling the truth. A lot depends on the integrity of the person telling us something, coupled with our ability to apply logic. Erroneous results occur when we are being misled and don’t use our heads which is why people act more on perceptions as opposed to reality (which is what politicians running for office count on).

Facing reality can be a daunting task as it can be rather unpleasant. As a result, people retreat into a make-believe world or yearn for a bygone era. Let me give you an example, not long ago I took some time off to do some fly fishing in the mountains of North Carolina. The area I visited seemed to be somewhat depressed and I discussed it with a friend who had moved to the area. At one time, the area was well known as a prominent furniture maker and tobacco grower. But as foreign competition proliferated in the 1980’s and 1990’s, at a fraction of the cost of what the North Carolinians offered, companies closed their doors. Since the passage of the Federal Tobacco Quota Buyout in October 2004, North Carolina’s tobacco industry has been in a “transition” period, meaning tobacco production has sharply diminished in the area, if not disappeared altogether. All of this has given rise to unemployment, government subsidies, and a general bewilderment by the populace as to what to do next.

There are those still yearning for furniture work, but cannot seem to come to grips with the fact that the ship has sailed. Because of the natural beauty of the area, including mountains, streams, hunting and fishing, and gemstones, some would like to develop the area for tourism. Alas, this is pooh-poohed by the locals who are easily alarmed by outsiders and their perceived sinful ways. Instead, the residents have elected to simply do nothing and allow themselves to stagnate in a state of analysis paralysis. You can readily see the effect it is having on the natives as there is no hustle, no service, no nothing, just a defeatist attitude, all because they refuse to face reality.

I’m sure we have all seen instances of this throughout the country, if not in our very neighborhoods; people who are simply unwilling to recognize the truth and deal with reality; people who are unwilling to upset the status quo even at the expense of its demise. There is a scene in the movie “Men in Black” which sums it up for me; in it, Will Smith’s character (“Jay”) questions why the world doesn’t know about aliens living on Earth, “People are smart, they can handle it.”

To which, Tommy Lee Jones (“Kay”) replies, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

Imagine where we’ll be if we don’t face reality; maybe somewhere in North Carolina.

Also published with The Huffington Post.

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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  TECHNOLOGY CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM – Farewell to the “Greatest Show on Earth.”

LAST TIME:  A SENSE OF BUSINESS OPTIMISM  – Is a go-go era in the offing?

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

THINKING IN 360 DEGREES

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 23, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

–  Getting the big picture.

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

My company has been doing business in Japan since the mid-1970’s. We have enjoyed the experience and have marveled at how Japanese businessmen act and think. For example, it is very important for the Japanese to reach a group consensus on major decisions (an inherent part of the concept of Theory Z). By doing so, they solicit the input from all of the workers before making a decision (a bottom-up type of approach). As an American, I found this to be radically different than the western world’s top-down micromanagement approach. The Japanese approach may make for a longer sales cycle, but it simplifies implementation (after all, everyone has agreed to the decision).

As the Japanese work through a problem they tend to look at it from every angle or as they refer to it as thinking in “360 degrees.” This is a much wider perspective than what you typically find in western companies. Whereas the Japanese tend to think in terms of 360 Degrees, Americans tend to suffer from tunnel-vision, meaning they become overly concerned with a single piece of the puzzle. Maybe this is because the western world is somewhat territorial in nature. We become so obsessed with our piece of the pie we tend to overlook the entire dish.

I think a lot of this has to do with our conditioning. Whereas the Japanese are taught at an early age the importance of teamwork and cooperation, Americans are taught to be individualistic and competitive. No wonder Japanese think of the bigger picture while Americans tend to build and fight over their little fiefdoms.

Over the years I have learned that larger and more complex projects require teamwork, communications and cooperation. Maybe it is because of our natural aversion to cooperate, and not to think in terms of 360 degrees, that we have difficulty conquering anything of substance in this country anymore. This may be a major factor why we no longer think big and are content doing small things.

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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  A SENSE OF BUSINESS OPTIMISM – Is a go-go era in the offing?

LAST TIME:  WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT THE PRESS  – Dealing with an irresponsible press.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

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

PERFECTION REQUIRES PATIENCE

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 16, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Sometimes it is simply not possible to achieve.

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

If you ever happen to see a craftsman at work, regardless of their field of endeavor, they are mindful of Michelangelo’s axiom, “Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.” This of course means perfection rarely occurs in quick and dirty situations. Instead, a methodical approach is preferred over trial and error, whereby careful consideration is given to all of the elements of planning, design, testing, and installation, where the development of each component in the product is carefully scrutinized for quality. In other words, perfection requires patience to achieve. We should, therefore, be mindful of the speed versus defect phenomenon, whereby the faster we go the more likely we are to experience defects in workmanship; the slower we go, the less likely.

Regardless of our best intentions, it is still possible to overlook a minuscule detail thereby hindering perfection. Sometimes perfection is simply impossible to achieve, which is when we have to become practical and change tactics.

To illustrate, years ago we were hired by a Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan to look over a new Claims Processing system they were building. The focal point of their problem centered on adjudicating claims whereby they wanted to devise an automated way to analyze a claim and determine the amount of money to be paid out. They had spent considerable time and money analyzing adjudication and were frustrated they couldn’t come up with a standard algorithm for computing all claims. We studied the problem and found that 90% of their claims were easy to analyze and calculate adjudication. For example, simple doctor visits, a broken bone, normal childbirths, etc. were easy to analyze and compute. However, unusual medical claims such as complications at childbirth, and accidents from a massive car accident, involved many more variables and, consequently, were difficult to compute based on standard algorithms. After studying the problem carefully, we reached the conclusion that trying to accurately calculate 100% of all claims was an impossibility. It was simply not practical to try to achieve this lofty goal and, as such, was a waste of time pursuing it. Instead, it was our advice they simply automate the 90% claims they could easily perform and segregate the remaining 10% for handling by a human adjuster. To their surprise, this worked remarkably well and saved them considerable money.

Too often in systems and software development people try to do the impossible and often run into a stumbling block when trying to achieve their goal. Do we continue to waste time and money on a problem that cannot be conquered or do we stop, lick our wounds, and move around? The problem is knowing when to stop.

This is ultimately based on the concept of the “80/20 Rule” (aka, “”Pareto’s Principle”). Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who observed in 1897 that 80 percent of the land in England was owned by 20 percent of the population. Pareto’s theory thereby relates to the ratio of input to output; e.g. twenty percent of your effort produces 80 percent of your results. From a time management perspective, it means 20 percent of the people are normally responsible for producing 80 percent of the work.

The concept of 80/20 can also be applied in other situations, as demonstrated by the above Claims Processing System. The point is, instead of continuing to beat your head against a wall, maybe it will be more practical to simply walk around it.

Also published with The Huffington Post.

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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  TRUMP’S INAUGURAL ADDRESS: WHAT WE NEED TO HEAR – What should his speech include?

LAST TIME:  TAKING THE SPORT OUT OF ATHLETICS  – Is the scientific approach dehumanizing sports?

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

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

DEALING WITH ADVICE

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 9, 2017

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– Some tips for entering the work force.

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

Back when we were headquartered in Cincinnati, our corporate attorney was the same person who represented some of the members of the legendary Big Red Machine, including Johnny Bench, the famous Hall-of-Fame catcher. My father got to know Johnny over the years through our attorney’s holiday parties. Years later, after we moved to the Tampa Bay area, my father called our attorney on a day when Bench happened to be sitting in his office. Wanting to send his regards, my father asked to speak to Johnny on the phone and told him his grandson (my son) was playing catcher in Little League and asked Bench if he had any advice for him. He replied, “Yes, there are three things he must do; first, if you’re the catcher, you must catch the ball at all costs, that is your job; Second, when you make a throw to another base, point your opposite foot in the direction of the base, it will help guide you in the proper direction, and; Third, always wear a cup.” Although his last point was said in jest, it was not without merit. Over the years, as I coached several Little League teams, I always began my catcher clinic with this little anecdote. It was simple, humorous, and because it originated from someone highly respected in his trade, my players took it to heart.

Throughout our lives we are always seeking advice, be it from a parent, a mentor, a coach, a teacher, or whomever. The obvious is not always obvious and, as such, we find our way through life by the help and society of others. Although we may be seeking acceptance for our decisions, advice is primarily aimed at lighting the way to a destination we must travel alone. Consequently, the better the advice we obtain, the more confident we will be in our journey as it helps minimize the number of mistakes we may make.

If you are familiar with my work, you know several of my tutorials are aimed at offering advice to young people as they enter the work force, including my book, “Morphing into the Real World,” which is a handbook on how to develop their personal and professional lives. Recently, I asked some confidants what three pieces of advice they would offer young people, and although there was some commonality in their answers, there were also differences:

The “Great One” of Sarasota is a management consultant who worked in a Fortune 500 company for several years and is intimate with both Information Technology and corporate politics. His advice:

1. Stay hands on, be a subject matter expert, stay on top of the skills required for your profession.

2. Develop solid communication skills, written and verbal and use them often.

3. Embrace positive workplace ethics and treat others as you would want them to treat you.

Another friend is a much traveled writer from Michigan who frequently pens political articles:

1. Forget the current fashion trends: hide any tattoos and lose all piercings that show. Dress for success.

2. Brush up on your writing skills. The shorthand you’ve learned from texting leads to some rather bad habits which can make you look bad.

3. Research the company you are applying to so you can ask intelligent questions and establish a better rapport with your interviewers.

A friend from Texas has experience in both the military as well as research and development in the corporate sector:

1. Do your research. Make your career in a viable industry you like. No one does well in a job they hate.

2. Be honest with yourself and evaluate what you are bringing to the job. Jobs exist because there is a business need. How do your skills answer that need?

3. If you are going to work for a company, then put yourself into it. Take ownership, be accountable, work as if the success of the company depends on your performance alone.

Another friend is a radio personality from New York with a broad and well rounded experience in the business world:

1. When you first walk through the door, find someone you respect that will mentor you.

2. Find out everything you can about the field you have just entered, e.g., history, statistics, market share, potential, and know your product.

3. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have and remember that FILO means “First In, Last Out”; people will notice.

As for me, I offer the following:

1. Pay attention; learn as much as you can.

2. Tell the truth; do not fabricate an excuse or answer.

3. Consider someone other than yourself; thereby promoting teamwork and the concept of sacrifice for the common good. In other words, try to get along with your fellow workers.

You’ll notice, there is nothing magical or complicated in the advice given here, just some rather simple lessons which have proven beneficial over the years. Regardless of the advice given you, whether it is included herein or found elsewhere, you must always remember one important fact, it is only advice; nothing more, nothing less. Whether you believe the advice is valid or not, YOU are the person who must decide to make use of it, not your advisers. They are not the ones who will be held accountable for the ultimate decision, YOU are. As any attorney, accountant, or financial adviser worth his salt will tell you, they are paid to give you advice, but only YOU can make the decision. Let’s just hope you are getting good advice. As for me, if someone like Johnny Bench says my catcher should wear a cup, by God my catcher is going to wear a cup.

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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  A FRESH PERSPECTIVE OF DONALD J. “TR”UMP – Daniel Ruddy’s recent book on Teddy Roosevelt provides tremendous insight into Mr. Trump.

LAST TIME:  A NEW TWIST ON COMPANY VACATIONS  – Are unlimited vacations practical?

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

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A NEW TWIST ON COMPANY VACATIONS

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 6, 2017

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– Are unlimited vacations practical?

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

My brother-in-law recently paid us a visit. He recently retired from General Electric, an old customer of ours, and we talked a little shop. He brought to my attention, a new vacation policy of G.E.’s whereby salaried employees can now take as much vacation time as they want, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their project schedules. Like most companies, the scheduling of vacations used to be critical and you were typically rewarded vacation time based on your length of service to the company, e.g., one week after one year, two weeks after two years, etc. Evidently, it is not that way anymore.

Now, employees can take as much time off as they desire whenever they want, which is referred to as the “permissive” approach by the company. Such a policy may be well suited for female employees who have become pregnant and want to spend time with their newborn before returning to work, but this is now applicable to everyone.

In a way, it is similar to the old concept of “flex time” which allows employees to come to work either earlier or later and depart earlier or later, but they have to be at the office for a certain length of time each day (such as eight hours) and work between certain hours, such as 10:00am to 2:00pm. This provides employees a certain amount of freedom in order to honor other commitments, such as making a doctor’s appointment, shopping, tending to school children, etc.

General Electric certainly did not invent the concept. Richard Branson, the founder and chairman of the Virgin Group announced it in the fall of 2014. However, G.E. is the biggest company to date to embrace the concept which now affects over 30,000 salaried employees, not hourly workers. General Electric’s size adds legitimacy to the concept. The big question though is, “Does it work?” As G.E. has only been using it since early 2015, it may be too soon to determine its success.

The biggest concern, of course, is the temptation to abuse the system. To overcome this problem, managers have to be on top of their game in terms of project management and being able to balance the use of human resources. Bottom-line, how well does the manager trust the employee? In yesteryear, managers had to carefully schedule resources in order to meet delivery deadlines. When completed with one assignment, the employee was given another.

The question then becomes, “Is enough work being allocated to the employee?” If the worker takes off for several months at a time, it would suggest that, No, the employee is not performing his/her fair share. Now, I will admit some employees are more productive than others and can complete project assignments faster, but the manager should be cognizant of this and adjust the workload accordingly. However, this is 20th century thinking.

Today, it is a new world in corporate America where millennials are flooding the work force, people who want more personal time for themselves. To earn such freedom as unlimited vacations, they must demonstrate they can assume responsibility and deliver on time. However, if they feel “entitled” to such perks, the program is doomed to failure.

Again, this is a concept still in its infancy. Some companies will embrace it, others will have difficulty swallowing it and abandon it if their output suffers. As for the rest of us, it will be fun to watch.

By the way, in my day, unlimited vacation was typically referred to as “retirement.”

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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  DEALING WITH ADVICE – Some tips for entering the work force.

LAST TIME:  OUT WITH THE OLD…  – Time to clean house as we start 2017.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

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

ADMITTING A MISTAKE

Posted by Tim Bryce on December 9, 2016

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– “The longer you delay admitting a mistake, the more expensive it will be to correct.” – Bryce’s Law

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

Nobody likes to admit making a mistake. We tend to believe it makes us look bad in the eyes of our coworkers, friends and particularly the boss. It’s a real test of our integrity. Some people like to cover-up mistakes so they go undetected or, even worse, let someone else take the blame for them. I find mistakes tend to fester and grow if left unchecked, thereby causing bigger headaches and costing a lot more money if we don’t catch them in time.

Every once in awhile you have to look your boss straight in the eye and say, “I screwed up.” It’s kind of like having a priest listen to your confession. Although the boss may be disappointed, he will be appreciative of the fact you came clean with him early on and brought the problem to his attention where it can be caught and corrected with minimal damage.

In this day and age of micromanagement you don’t see too many people willing to admit a mistake. They take on an assignment, get in over their head, and fail to yell for help in time. This does a disservice to the assignment, the people depending on you, and yourself. In business, it is not uncommon to see people rising above their level of competency (aka, “The Peter Principle”). In other words, they have been placed in a position where they are incapable of performing their job effectively. Keeping them in this position is a disservice to the company as well as to the person. Frankly, I think we have too many people in over their heads who refuse to ask for help, which I consider a pretty scary operating scenario.

We have all made mistakes we wish we could take back and correct, some small, others real beauts, but there is nobody out there without a blemish on their record, which is why we are all willing to forgive, provided the person comes clean with it early on.

There’s an old axiom in business that says, “If you make 51% of your decisions correctly, you will be a success.” I’m not suggesting we don’t strive for perfection, but we should all realize it is an impossibility. After all, the last guy who was perfect, they hung on a cross.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  OUR FIXATION WITH NAME SUFFIXES – Do we make too much out of them?

LAST TIME:  75TH ANNIVERSARY OF PEARL HARBOR  – Remembering “a day of infamy.”

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

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

YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 30, 2016

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– I know mine. What is yours?

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

I know a young man who was recently promoted to the position of “Project Manager.” This was his first management position and he was naturally a little nervous going into it. Knowing I frequently write on the subject, he asked for my advice as to what to expect. I began by saying management is not for everyone as it represents a leadership position where you become responsible for your subordinates. Some thrive in such a capacity, others prefer being led. I had a friend who was a master machinist and happened to be promoted to supervisor where he would be responsible for five people under him. This distressed him greatly as he worried about their performance. So much so, he developed ulcers and became quite ill. He begged his boss to go back to being a machinist, whereby he quickly regained his health.

Just because you’ve been given the title “Manager” doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly been imbued with certain knowledge. You have to work at it. For example, in the Information Technology industry, it is common to see a successful programmer elevated to analyst, then to project manager, then to I.T. manager. Such a person may have been a great programmer, but that is no qualification for becoming a manager. Not surprising, the Peter Principle is applied whereby the person is elevated to a position above his level of competency and the company suffers for it. In most cases, such I.T. managers have a rather narrow perspective as they tend to think less as managers and more as programmers.

Whenever thrust into the position, a person must develop his/her own unique style of management. Quite often we will try to emulate others we respect, we may also read books and attend seminars to learn management techniques, and solicit advice from our confidants. However, we must realize what works for one person may not for another, and because of this, we have to tailor our strengths and weaknesses to the situation at hand. We will inevitably experiment with different suggestions until we find a comfortable style of management.

There are ultimately three variables dictating our style of management:

1. Our assigned duties and responsibilities which defines the scope of our management authority, and as such, our mission as manager.

2. Available resources, both human and machine. The skills and proficiencies of our workers and equipment will play a significant role in the timely completion of work products. For humans we consider experience, performance, and skill set, which includes interpersonal relations (defining our socialization skills). For equipment, we primarily consider its limitations. As my old football coach was fond of saying, “A team is as strong as its weakest player.” If we have weak workers, we will need to improve their skills. If we have limited technology, we may need to consider upgrades. Of course, this depends on the availability of another type of resource, financial.

3. The time allotted to demonstrate you are achieving your goal. For a single project, you will likely need to demonstrate the project is proceeding on time and within budget. For departmental management you will need to demonstrate it is under control and improving productivity. It is very important you understand the timing variable as it will greatly influence your style.

These three variables define the hand we are dealt; how we play the hand is then up to us. Some will become drunk with power and try to micromanage everything under the persona of Attila the Hun. Some will try to make use of carrot-and-stick techniques to encourage workers to perform better, and still others will allow workers to walk all over them.

As for me, I always had a strong sense of organization and communications. Standardized and reusable methodologies for conducting business are invaluable in terms of defining Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, all of which improves communications and clearly delineates how work products are to be produced. Unlike micromanagement, I prefer managing from the bottom-up, whereby assignments are clearly defined and employees are then empowered to see the task through to completion themselves. Other than this, I monitor the operation and run interference to overcome obstacles and obstructions. In other words, I believe in spending less time supervising, and more time managing.

The point is, this is a style that works for me. It may or may not work for you. As to my young friend becoming a Project Manager, I admonished him that, until such time as he discovers his own style of management, I recommended he remain flexible, to adapt and adjust accordingly, study others (what works and what doesn’t), and learn more than teach. After all, style comes with experience. As such, I advised him to learn everything he can about his niche of the business, be fair and honest, and lead by example. Never ask someone to do something you are not prepared to do yourself.

We must never forget human behavior rests at the heart of the science of management. It is not about technology, it is not about numbers, it is about people, which is why we call it “man”agement. Perhaps the best way to define it is “Management is getting people to do what you want, when you want to do it.” And it all begins with your style of management.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

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 © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  BEING SICK – What happens when the crud hits you?

LAST TIME:  WHAT INSPIRES US?  – The acts and words of others influence us greatly.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

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

 
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