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A TALE OF TWO PROJECTS

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 21, 2020

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Does this story of systems development sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve got the AR system back on track and finally implemented it much to the satisfaction of all concerned. Bob lost control of the AP system almost immediately and it spun out of control until Steve was finally called back in to finish it. Not knowing what to do with high-profile Bob, the IT Director made the classic move of promoting Bob and transferring him to another area where he could do no harm.

LESSONS LEARNED

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

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

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

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

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

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also, I have a NEW book, “Before You Vote: Know How Your Government Works”, What American youth should know about government, available in Printed, PDF and eBook form. DON’T FORGET GRADUATION DAY. This is the perfect gift!

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

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance 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 © 2020 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 Management, Systems, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHEN IS OPENING DAY?

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 17, 2020

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– When will the country begin to return to normal?

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

Good question. After two months, a lot of people are itching to lose the masks and gloves, return to work, and get their lives back to normal. Believe it or not, others want to see the country stay in paralysis until the election making it a sore political subject. We obviously cannot do the latter as the United States would become a burned out shell by then. The question though is when to re-open the country, and that will be the toughest question President Trump will face as he knows the clock is ticking on our ability to recover from this mess.

Whatever day President Trump picks, the press will, of course, ridicule his decision and the Democrats will turn it into a political football. In other words, they do not want him to win on this one which is why they are trying to undermine him every step of the way. Frankly, we do not have time for such hi-jinks; the show must go on.

The decision to open back up will be shared between the president, and the state governors. The Republicans will, of course, side with the president, and the Democrats will not. Nonetheless, if the Republican led states begin to open up, the liberal news media will criticize them, but they will still open up, thereby applying pressure on Democrat states to do likewise. Please keep in mind there are more Republican-led states than there are Democrat-led. It will be interesting to see how the larger Democrat-led states will react, particularly New York, Michigan, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, and California.

The one Democrat-led state to pay particular attention to is Nevada where the gambling and tourist trade has been crippled by the coronavirus. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) will be pressured to open the state, not just by the casinos and resorts, but by members of his own party who desperately want to go back to work. If Nevada opens, this will put pressure on West Coast Democrat-led states to do likewise, particularly California who has been struggling financially for quite some time.

The opening of states like Nevada and Florida will not only pressure tourist attractions to open, but will also push sports venues to reopen, particularly Major League Baseball. As for basketball and hockey, they may go into tournament play, but I believe their seasons are essentially over. Interestingly, the NFL will be untouched by the virus, but will instigate precautions for safeguarding attendance at their games.

Following this, watch the transportation industry begin to rebound.

The “anti-open” people will rebel loudly, but this is to be expected. By doing so, they run the risk of becoming an annoyance and losing votes in November. In other words, they will be coerced into accepting the reopening of the country.

So, when exactly should we re-open? This too has been a tricky question, one the president has been shrewd to avoid. During the presidential virus news conferences, reporters have repeatedly tried to pin him down to a date, so they can spread false alarms and insist the commander-in-chief is incompetent to remain in office (sound familiar?). Fortunately, the president has a lot of data available for his team to analyze and make a recommendation. Whatever date is picked, it will remain an educated guess, but it will be better than simply picking a date out of the air. Again, whichever date is picked, the president’s opponents will seize on the moment and politicize it.

The point is, we obviously have to re-open sooner or later; otherwise we will go into a death spiral. Whatever day Mr. Trump picks, it will be ridiculed by his opponents. This is all inevitable. However, if the American people truly want to return to work, as I suspect they do, they will support the president’s decision and move on with their lives.

Let’s be clear on one point, regardless of the day picked to re-open, life will not be quite the same anymore. For example, masks and gloves will not disappear any time soon, particularly at sporting events, and people will keep their social distance from each other in general.

As to an exact date, I will leave it the president’s team, but we typically like to marry it to a well known holiday. The betting is on a date in May, of which we have plenty of choices:

Tue, May 5th – Cinco de Mayo – Yea, let’s get drunk one last time before going back to work.

Sun, May 10th – Mother’s Day – Not a bad time to return back to work in support of Moms everywhere.

Sat, May 16th – Armed Forces Day – Also a good day to return to work following a patriotic day.

Mon, May 25th – Memorial Day – This will be the favorite as it is a three day weekend. However, it is far away.

Actually, I think it would be more appropriate to use Monday, May 11th, as this is Twilight Zone Day. It makes sense to me.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also, I have a NEW book, “Before You Vote: Know How Your Government Works”, What American youth should know about government, available in Printed, PDF and eBook form. DON’T FORGET GRADUATION DAY. This is the perfect gift!

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

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance 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 © 2020 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 Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

THE FLYING STIFF

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 16, 2020

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Time for a little humor.

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

A good friend of mine passed away last year, I’ll just call him “Warren” for the purpose of this essay. He was a good friend and had a great sense of humor. He also had an interesting career which, among other things, he served a stint as a New York State trooper several years ago. One day we took a road trip heading north on I-75, I was driving. We talked about a lot of things, as is common on such trips, but he began to describe some of his escapades as a trooper, such as some of the whacko speeders he had ticketed or arrested over the years. It was all interesting, but he had one story which really caught me off guard…

Wintertime in upstate New York can be frigid as anyone can tell you from that area (why they call it “upstate” as opposed to “northern” New York is beyond me). It was on a bright Sunday afternoon when Warren and his partner were called to investigate a homeless person frozen on the side of a road up in the woods. They drove their squad car up into the hills where lo-and-behold there was indeed a gentleman who had frozen to death next to the road. As the passenger in the vehicle, Warren radioed back to his headquarters to report they had found the deceased and requested the Coroner’s Office to send up an ambulance to take it away. They were told that due to the frigid conditions, the ambulance wasn’t working and they would have to bring the body back down the hill themselves.

Their first inclination was to put the body into the trunk of the squad car, but because it was frozen solid, they couldn’t bend it to fit in the trunk. They next tried putting it in the back seat, but again, because of its frigidity, it would have required them to drive with both car doors open. It was now starting to get late in the day and they realized they didn’t have much sunlight left. Becoming a bit desperate, they noticed a nearby toboggan run where they commandeered a toboggan and strapped the stiff to it. Their idea was to tie it to the back of the patrol car and slowly pull it down the hill. They then proceeded cautiously down the hill which was still rather icy. So far, so good.

About halfway down the hill, Warren happened to look out his side window and saw the toboggan with its passenger running alongside of their vehicle. Evidently, the rope they used to tie it to the car had snapped due to the temperature. All Warren could say was, “Oh, oh, that’s not good.”

Without any brakes, the toboggan began to pick up speed and was quickly in front of the troopers before they could stop it. They then began to give chase down the hill, complete with their lights flashing.

At the bottom of the hill was a beautiful little home where the family was just sitting down for their Sunday dinner. Looking out of their picturesque dining room window, the family began to observe the commotion of the troopers coming down the hill towards them.

By this time, the toboggan had picked up considerable speed and was now racing down the hill at full tilt. As it approached the house, it happened to hit a snow bank thereby causing the toboggan to become airborne much to the horror of the family in the house who watched helplessly as it crashed through their window and into their dining room. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

When the troopers finally arrived outside the broken window, they found the flying stiff had safely landed on what was left of the dining room table (and dinner). Embarrassed by the incident, they apologized profusely to the family and assured them they would make retribution (which they did).

Somehow they managed to remove the toboggan and were finally able to transport it to the Coroner’s office without any further incident. Although the snafu was embarrassing, Warren told me it took them five hours to complete the paperwork as they were howling over the incident.

As for me, I had trouble driving the car as the imagery of Warren’s story had me in hysterics. I have since told this anecdote on more than one occasion to some police friends I know and they assure me such stories are common but are only known by law enforcement personnel as the public probably wouldn’t understand such dark humor.

Now some people might be offended by this story but I can assure you the troopers meant no disrespect. I guess the moral of the story is simply not to visit upstate New York in the dead of winter.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also, I have a NEW book, “Before You Vote: Know How Your Government Works”, What American youth should know about government, available in Printed, PDF and eBook form. DON’T FORGET GRADUATION DAY. This is the perfect gift!

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

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance 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 © 2020 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 History, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

POLITICIZING THE CORONAVIRUS

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 14, 2020

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Who would have ever thought this would happen?

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

Panics are a fascinating subject, particularly from a management perspective. They are usually caused by some catastrophe, be it man-made or an act of God. We can make some preparations for disaster, but they do not normally accommodate all situations. This means we are forced to react to a panic, such as a cattle stampede triggered by a bolt of lightning. Instead of being proactive, we then must rely on our leaders to take the reigns to restore order and correct the problem.

Historically, Americans have reacted to many calamities, be it Pearl Harbor, Hurricane Katrina, or 9-11, to mention but a few. There were indications such disasters would occur, and some preparations were made, but nothing to the scale prohibiting the pain, suffering, and damage that occurred.

Now we are faced with a panic as created by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), a pandemic virus plaguing the world, and it appears nobody was quite prepared for it. In the United States, the Trump Administration took the lead and tried to calm the public’s nerves while seeking medical treatments and keeping the country running as best possible.

Following Pearl Harbor, Katrina, and 9-11, the country unified to combat the peril, but this is hardly the case today. Even though polls suggest the country approves the efforts exerted by President Trump and his team, there are forces at work to undermine him. Through his daily coronavirus briefings, the president has commanded the headlines and air time. So much so, the country has somewhat forgotten the national election, and former VP Joe Biden cannot seem to be found anywhere. In other words, President Trump has enjoyed a tremendous amount of favorable publicity, while the Democrats have essentially dropped off the face of the Earth. Obviously, this does not sit well with their leaders as the elections are just seven months away.

To combat President Trump’s exposure, the news media has openly criticized his daily briefings claiming they are either distributing misleading information or he is openly lying. Then again, they have been saying this ever since his inauguration. In sharp contrast, Democrat governors who hold similar briefings in their own states, are openly applauded; this includes New York, Michigan, Illinois, Washington, and California. So far, I have yet to see the press take the Democrats to task. Obviously, this is not a coincidence, as the media is splitting the coronavirus panic along ideological lines.

Even though the president couldn’t be taken down by the Mueller investigation or by impeachment, the coronavirus makes a convenient last-ditch effort to take him out of the picture. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is now in the process of creating a new oversight committee for the government’s reaction to the coronavirus. This will be used to publicly criticize the president once again, and possibly find some excuse to impeach him. I highly doubt this Democrat-led committee will heap accolades on the president. Think about it, whereas people normally come together in times of crisis, the coronavirus is being used to impeach a president. It doesn’t get any more political than this.

Interestingly, while the Democrat candidates seem to have disappeared, including former Sec. Hillary Clinton, the one Democrat the news media is fawning over is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. It seems rather obvious the media has fallen for him and will desperately try to find a way to draft him as the party’s candidate, perhaps as a dark-horse candidate or running mate with Joe Biden.

The only problem with this is the people are more concerned about surviving the virus, than impeaching or defeating the president. Again, the president is scoring well for his handling of the panic. In other words, the media’s attacks on the president are not swaying the minds of independents or Republicans. It is simply not working, and the president’s popularity continues to grow.

In a cattle stampede your choices are rather limited; lead, follow or get the heck out of the way, and two of those options will not solve the problem. So far, the American people, with the exception of the far-Left, believe the president is taking them in the right direction.

I never suspected someone would take a calamity like the coronavirus, and spin it for political gain. Imagine where we would be if we took this same approach to Pearl Harbor, Hurricane Katrina, and 9-11. Unfortunately, our country is hopelessly divided along ideological lines.

One last note, I recently came across a funny graphic on social media; it says, “I have a cure for the coronavirus: Just mention canceling the 2020 Presidential Election until 2024…See how fast it disappears.” There is a lot of truth in this.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also, I have a NEW book, “Before You Vote: Know How Your Government Works”, What American youth should know about government, available in Printed, PDF and eBook form. DON’T FORGET GRADUATION DAY. This is the perfect gift!

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

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance 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 © 2020 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 Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

FLY FISHING AT ST. TIMOTHY’S

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 9, 2020

BRYCE ON LIFE

– My church on the stream.

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

Most of the problems of the world can be solved with just a little fly fishing. Although I have fished most of my life in different locales, I took up fly fishing about twenty years ago. One of the first things I learned was that casting a fly rod was unlike any other rod and reel I had ever used. It wasn’t a matter of sheer strength but rather a lot of finesse. The rhythmic casting between ten o’clock and two o’clock in a constant manner represents a harmony between rod, reel, line, fly and fisherman. Consequently, there is a certain amount of grace and serenity in fly-fishing. Watching a fly fisherman who knows what he is doing is truly a work of art which is why they constantly cultivate their skills in search of perfection.

Deep sea fishing is fun as you can drink a few beers and chew the fat with your buddies. However, fly fishing requires you to be more independent. Even when you work a stream with a group of your friends, you are essentially on your own and must respect the space of other fishermen. There is a certain amount of protocol to be observed on the stream, a sort of gentleman’s agreement with the Golden Rule being, “I won’t spoil you’re water and you won’t spoil mine.”

More than any other type of fishing I have experienced, fly fishing teaches you patience, discipline, strategy, and how to relax. It’s not merely a matter of casting a hook, but rather making the proper presentation of the fly to the fish. The difference is analogous to eating at a fast food restaurant versus being served a meal by a waiter at a five star restaurant. Trout are notoriously picky eaters. This requires different types of flies and casting techniques in order to carefully present your offering to the fish. I’m sorry, but the brute-force approach simply doesn’t work here.

Fly fishing also requires concentration, particularly as you change flies, which, in a rushing river, can be a very challenging task requiring considerable patience and skill in tying the fly. Then there is the matter of being able to read the river and look for holes where fish may be waiting, or observing the types of live insects the fish are striking at, thereby causing you to select a suitable fly to use. There are countless things to consider as you work a stream which is why it is necessary for you to remain focused if you want to catch anything and avoid an accident. There is a serenity in such discipline, particularly in the outdoors where you commune with nature. The sounds of the river, birds and other wildlife only adds to the ambiance and you become acutely aware you are doing something rather extraordinary here.

Catch and release can be every bit as rewarding as catch and keep. However, there are few things better than cooking a trout on the grill immediately afterwards and joking with your friends about your mishaps in the stream. Sometimes we take a small propane gas grill and frying pan with us so we can cook our catch near the stream. You have to be careful though as you do not want to attract the attention of a hungry bear, but aside from this, freshwater trout cooked this way is simply marvelous.

I hope to continue to work the rivers and streams for several more years and do battle with the rainbows, cutthroats, brooks and brown trout. Even the little ones can cop an attitude and present an interesting challenge, but to land a big one in the wild, not in captivity, is like reaching a state of Nirvana.

Fly fishing is one of the best things I’ve learned to do, and I’m still learning as it is a never ending educational process. I may not be the best angler, but there is something magical about working a stream with your fly rod. As for me, I get to put away the phones and computers, put on my fishing vest, light a cigar, and quietly slip into the chilly waters in search of my adversary. Whether you catch anything or not is immaterial as far as I’m concerned. There is something about watching the sun squint through the trees, casting long shadows over the melodic rhythm of the river; something quite spiritual. Entering the stream causes you to put things into a different perspective and suddenly all of your problems become minuscule. The solitude of fly fishing offers the fisherman a place for peaceful introspection, far better than any church I have attended, which is why I often refer to the river as “St. Timothy’s.” You may not be able to solve all of your problems by fly fishing, but you sure can tame them.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also, I have a NEW book, “Before You Vote: Know How Your Government Works”, What American youth should know about government, available in Printed, PDF and eBook form. DON’T FORGET GRADUATION DAY. This is the perfect gift!

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

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance 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 © 2020 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 Life | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE SOCIAL CHANGES FROM CORONAVIRUS

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 7, 2020

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Is there a silver lining to this panic?

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

I have found the social changes resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) to be fascinating. Most people appear to be staying home, minding their own business, and avoiding human contact either by choice or forced to do so by government regulations. As evidence, there is a groundswell in home improvement projects (just ask the hardware super stores whose profits are soaring). Other people are learning new cooking recipes, surfing the Internet, playing computer games, and watching a ton of television. My brother-in-law tackled a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle while sipping on some rather fine bourbon, and others are getting caught up on their reading. There are even fewer cars on the road, at least down here in Florida. Life has definitely changed since the panic began and the social ramifications are eye-opening.

The people who were asked to work from home or have been furloughed are bored, frustrated, and chomping on the bit to get back to work. When our doors finally re-open, we will likely witness a productivity boom the likes of which we haven’t seen since World War II. Likewise, children are restless and want to return to school. It is interesting to watch Americans react to the shutdown. No, this is certainly not a vacation or holiday as people are sensitive to their ability to generate income and have become rather restless.

One area I found particularly noticeable in neighborhoods is the need for human interaction. First, I have never seen so many people walking or bicycling around the neighborhood, be it alone, as a couple, or with kids and pets. I didn’t realize how many dogs there were in my neighborhood. I also see people walking around who I haven’t seen in a number of years, and frankly, I thought they had moved out of the neighborhood.

Most interesting is how people do not hesitate to stop and talk with their neighbors, usually at the end of a driveway or in a front yard. The virus has caused us to become more neighborly, to ask about each other, if everything is okay, and to lend a helping hand when necessary. Kindness and consideration seems to be the order of the day and a renewed sense of neighborly responsibility.

Since the restaurants and bars are closed, we are seeing people get-together, not in large parties, but simple get-togethers to talk and even play cards. Maybe bridge and pinochle will finally make a come back. Needless to say, the consumption of alcohol has increased and the stores are doing brisk business. People may not be able to get a drink at night, but if government regulators ever close liquor stores, there would doubtless be an open rebellion.

This phenomenon of neighbors becoming reacquainted with their neighbors is healthy for communities as Americans do better when they pull together in times of crisis. This reminds me of the classic 1941 Frank Capra movie, “Meet John Doe,” starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyk, whereby Cooper’s character goes on the radio to promote the concept of “love thy neighbor.” This results in a social movement whereby people renew friendships with their neighbors and help one and other. This becomes the basis for forming “John Doe Clubs” across the nation. It’s an entertaining film with an important message. It’s also vintage Capra.

Yes, I am aware we are suppose to practice “social distancing,” and I believe my neighbors understand this. I just find it interesting how the virus has forced people out of hiding and caused them to think about their neighbors, to lend a hand, to pick up and deliver supplies, or some small menial task. It is refreshing to watch. Maybe there is a silver lining to this panic after all.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also, I have a NEW book, “Before You Vote: Know How Your Government Works”, What American youth should know about government, available in Printed, PDF and eBook form. DON’T FORGET GRADUATION DAY. This is the perfect gift!

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

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance 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 © 2020 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 Healthcare, Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

“NOW, WHERE WERE WE?”

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 2, 2020

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– In the midst of primary season.

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

In case you have forgotten, we are still embroiled in a national election, and the Democrats have yet to officially select their candidate to run against President Trump. Three more primaries are in the offing with Alaska and Hawaii on April 4th, and Wisconsin on April 7th. Due to the coronavirus, in-person voting has been cancelled in Alaska, and mail-in voting has been extended until April 10th. As of this writing, Hawaii and Wisconsin will proceed as planned. Following this, several more primaries are planned throughout April, May and June, with the Democrat convention scheduled for July 13-16, in Milwaukee.

It appears Sen. Bernie Sanders has lost the nomination to former VP Joe Biden thanks to Democrat traditionalists who helped push other nominees off the stage, and to the coronavirus which threw Sanders off the front page and TV screens. It is possible he may elect to take his supporters and form a third party, but this depends on how he performs in the remaining primaries. April 28th will be a key date as this represents a big primary day in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. If he fails to pass the muster, he is out, but if he does well, he may very well pick up his marbles and go elsewhere.

As an aside, the coronavirus may have an impact on the Democrat primaries as it may discourage people from voting, leaving only ardent supporters to cast their vote. Under this scenario, Bernie still has a shot at it.

In all likelihood, former VP Biden will get the nod as the candidate, but two things bother me about him; first, he is a liberal and not a moderate as the media is trying to portray him. Aside from abortion, Mr. Biden has a liberal background, particularly when it comes to gun ownership, health care, immigration, the Green New Deal, and civil rights.

Second, if elected president, Mr. Biden will be the oldest president in our history, inaugurated at age 78. During this campaign, there have been numerous awkward moments where Mr. Biden has sparred with voters, causing people to wonder about his mental acuity, and questioning if perhaps this is the onset of dementia. He is now being watched carefully by his handlers to avoid any more flubs or offensive remarks.

As to how the former VP would do against President Trump in a debate, he may have many years of government service, but he doesn’t have the business acumen the president possesses. It is likely he will not score well in a debate regarding the economy, a key issue for victory in November. The concern of the Democrats is that Mr. Biden will come out of the debates looking tired and confused.

We now return you to your regular programming of coronavirus panic.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also, I have a NEW book, “Before You Vote: Know How Your Government Works”, What American youth should know about government, available in Printed, PDF and eBook form. DON’T FORGET GRADUATION DAY. This is the perfect gift!

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

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance 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 © 2020 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 Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

TELL THEM WHAT YOU NEED, NOT WHAT YOU WANT

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 31, 2020

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– Getting to the root of an I.T. problem.

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

When a person visits a doctor to complain about an ailment, it is not uncommon for the patient to try and diagnose the problem himself and prescribe a cure. The doctor listens politely but then asks a series of questions aimed at analyzing the patient’s symptoms, for example, “When and where did you first notice this?” “How often does this happen?” “What medication are you currently taking?,” etc. By analyzing the symptoms, the physician is trying to diagnose the problem. If he cannot ascertain the problem through questioning or a basic examination, he may order additional tests, such as an MRI, X-rays, a CAT scan, blood tests, urine samples, etc. The point is, the doctor is more interested in attacking the root cause, not just the symptoms.

We see this same type of phenomenon in Information Technology (I.T.) related projects where the end-user approaches the I.T. manager with a request for service whereby he sincerely believes he knows the right technical solution to solve his business problems. Two things may result from this request: either the I.T. department will treat the users symptoms, and give him what he wants, thereby not really solving his business problem correctly, or; the I.T. department will study the user’s problem more closely, possibly order some tests, and prescribe a solution that properly addresses his problems. Regrettably, this latter approach is rarely performed in companies anymore.

There is still a huge frustration factor between users and I.T. developers. On the one hand, users claim, “They (the I.T. people) don’t understand me,” and on the other hand, the I.T. people contend the users “don’t know what they want.” This void between the two groups is unhealthy and not conducive for solving the company’s problems. Frustrated, I.T. management tells developers not to ask questions, “Just give them what they want.” This scenario is obviously counterproductive, yet commonplace in the corporate world today.

When I am asked how to deal with this situation, I emphasize the doctor-patient analogy as mentioned above. First, the I.T. people have to learn to ask more questions and differentiate symptoms from problems. In other words, let’s not be in such a hurry to program a solution before we truly understand the problem. I.T. has a horrible track record in this regard. The idea of specifying user information requirements is the Achilles’ Heel of every development project. If it is performed superficially, the wrong solution will inevitably be delivered. Second, the user should play the role of a patient, meaning don’t try to prescribe a solution but concentrate on what you truly need and let the doctor (the I.T. department) prescribe a suitable solution. After all, who has more training in this regard, the doctor or the patient? Let the I.T. people do what they’re trained to do (and are paid for).

As long as we know our roles and do not try to do the other person’s job, we’ll get along just fine. Now turn your head and cough.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also, I have a NEW book, “Before You Vote: Know How Your Government Works”, What American youth should know about government, available in Printed, PDF and eBook form. DON’T FORGET GRADUATION DAY. This is the perfect gift!

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

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance 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 © 2020 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: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

WHAT WE CAN EXPECT AFTER THE CORONAVIRUS

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 26, 2020

BRYCE ON THE VIRUS

– Coming attractions.

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

By the time the coronavirus (COVID-19) has run its course, what can we expect from the fall-out? Hopefully, we will learn from this episode and make changes to address future epidemics, and believe me, this will not be the end of it as the media has discovered such disasters are bigger business than mere politics. What can we expect though from this episode and what awaits us in the months ahead?

First, this will be on everyone’s mind as we head to the voting booths in November. As of now, President Trump has been getting favorable poll ratings for his handling of the problem, so this shouldn’t effect him in a negative way. However, the key will be to see how the economy bounces back. It will undoubtedly take a dip in the Spring, but when the panic is over and life begins to return to normal, will another bull market emerge? If not, this could present a serious problem for the Republicans. As of now, the American public doesn’t blame President Trump for the declining stock markets, but when this is over, they will want to see it come roaring back.

Now that stocks are down, shrewd investors will be picking up some bargain stocks and making a killing. Transportations may be slow to rebound, but others should come back faster, such as electronics and food related companies. One of the biggest surprises during the panic was our attachment to paper products. Who would have thought toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues would be so much in demand? Companies such as Scott Paper, Kimberly-Clark, and Procter & Gamble should be sitting pretty following the panic.

Likewise, pharmacies have taken a noticeable upturn and will continue to grow.

Supply chains will need to be re-evaluated and improved in order to prevent another product shortage in the future. Freight truck sales are booming and will continue to do so to help in this regard. Freight trains should also do well.

People have learned the need for maintaining emergency supplies on hand. Look for increased sales in refrigerators and freezers to accommodate this. Shelving, storage and security items should also do well.

The service industry should prosper substantially; “Sit down” restaurants will eventually recover but there will be an explosion in “To Go” ordering, something people have become used to during the panic and has altered our eating habits. Look for a revolution in home delivery. Walmart, Amazon, and the major Supermarkets have been moving in this direction for a long time, but the panic clearly demonstrated its viability.

The tobacco industry will take a hit as we were once again reminded of the ill-effects of tobacco. Not surprising, liquor sales held strong as people got together in impromptu groups and enjoyed libations to pass the time of day.

As much as we hate the politically correct expression, “Social Distancing,” it will become a part of life from now on as it has become a habit. There will be fewer handshakes and hugs, people will keep their distance, and there will still be fewer group activities, including nonprofits and church meetings. Also watch for surgical masks to become more commonplace, as well as the re-introduction of gloves at group events.

Perhaps the most noticeable coming attraction will be a baby boom in December. As people went into hibernation during the panic, as requested by government, they had to find ways to entertain themselves. Hence, we are on the verge of a major baby boom, the likes of which will make the old New York blackouts seem pale by comparison. Inevitably, even more paper products will be needed to accommodate the influx of infants.

Should there be another virus like this, it is hoped we will be better prepared. Personally, I would like to see someone take the news media to task, but this will likely never happen. And I certainly hope a panic such as this never happens again during an election year. This was too much of a coincidence for my liking.

By the way, Rod Serling couldn’t have written a better script than what the coronavirus politicians and media did.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also, I have a NEW book, “Before You Vote: Know How Your Government Works”, What American youth should know about government, available in Printed, PDF and eBook form. DON’T FORGET GRADUATION DAY. This is the perfect gift!

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

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance 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 © 2020 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 Healthcare, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 24, 2020

BRYCE ON THE VIRUS

– “Break a Leg!”

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

I think it is time I weighed in on the coronavirus panic choking our country. Currently, we are a nation suffocating in a depressing doom and gloom; where the media seems to take delight in telling us how bad things are, all in the name of improved ratings. Frankly, they haven’t hit a bonanza like this in a long time, even in spite of their sloppy reporting. This has been exacerbated by lawyers, accountants, politicians, and a greedy media who will not be happy until the country is ground to a halt. Frankly, this is one American who has had enough.

In show business, the expression, “The Show Must Go On!”, means we must go forward even in the face of adversity. It is time for this country to do likewise in lieu of the panic. Currently, we are experiencing a domino effect whereby restaurants and businesses are closing, as are schools, the travel industry is tanking, people are working from home or are being let go, people are hoarding toilet paper (of all things), we are rationing food, etc., thereby causing the economy to tremble. The new politically correct concept of “Social Distancing” is forcing people to turn inwards to home, and avoid human contact, not just group activities such as sporting events, church meetings, schools, going to the beach, or a drink at the local tavern. Terrified of the virus, people are hiding out until the all-clear siren is sounded. There is one problem with this, we cannot afford to bring the country to a standstill as exemplified by the movie, “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Our choice is simple: We can either resign ourselves to a fate of destruction or pick up the pieces and move forward. I choose the latter.

Some claim we have never seen anything like this virus (COVID-19). This is simply not true. The 2009-2010 Swine Flu Pandemic saw upwards to 1.4 billion cases, with deaths estimated between 150,000–575,000. Today, we are nowhere near these numbers. I am not doubting the legitimacy of the coronavirus, but I am questioning the panic that has ensued. It reminds me of how we handle hurricanes in Florida. It used to be, the public was alerted about an approaching storm, we took the necessary precautions (such as replenishing supplies and boarding up homes) and then rode it out. However, when Hurricane Irma appeared in 2017, Floridians were panicked by the media, forcing the closure of restaurants and businesses, and the stoppage of water, gasoline, and electricity in some areas. Frankly, it turned out to be a rather lame storm here in Florida by comparison to other hurricanes, but the public was panicked into a frenzy by the media, not too dissimilar to what we are experiencing today. The point is, something is horribly wrong in how the media is communicating with the public these days.

What we are witnessing is an interesting social experiment. It proves people can be easily manipulated by the media and politicians. It also demonstrates people prefer operating on autopilot, and when it is switched off, they do not know how to improvise, adapt and overcome, and this is what is perhaps most disturbing about the panic.

There are, of course, some things beyond our control, such as financial markets, government regulations, etc., and I am certainly not advocating disobeying the law, but we need to challenge our politicians and hold them accountable, as well as the media. It also means we have to learn to think for ourselves and become proactive as opposed to reactive. In other words, we need to think differently, break old habits, and replace them with new ones. Remember the old maxim, “In confusion there is profits.”

We need to begin by changing our perspective to believe the glass is half full, not half empty as the media suggests. In other words, let’s think positive, not negative. Now is the time for innovation in the workplace, to think smarter, and introduce new ideas to get the job done. There are opportunities out there waiting to be exploited, we just have to find them.

So, should we place our faith in the hands of our politicians and the media? As for me, I will put my trust in common sense instead.

By the way, perhaps the biggest difference between the 2009-2010 Swine Flu Pandemic and the 2020 COVID-19 panic is that 2009-2010 was not a presidential election year. Hmm, must be nothing more than a coincidence, right?

Another stage related expression is “Break a Leg,” representing a wish for good luck to a performer. It’s an old expression reflecting an ancient superstition that wishing someone “good luck” was considered somewhat of a jinx.

Since I am from the South, I will leave you with…

Break a Leg (Y’all)!

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also, I have a NEW book, “Before You Vote: Know How Your Government Works”, What American youth should know about government, available in Printed, PDF and eBook form. DON’T FORGET GRADUATION DAY. This is the perfect gift!

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

Tim Bryce is an author, freelance 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 © 2020 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 Government, Healthcare, Media | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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