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Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

DEALING WITH OFFICE CLUTTER

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 23, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– The fundamentals are not as complicated as you might think.

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

I cringe when I hear someone say, “A cluttered desk is the sign of a brilliant mind.” I don’t know who invented this little gem, some claim Albert Einstein, but I can’t seem to find any record of it. More likely, it was some slob who got called up on the carpet by his boss for running a pigpen.

It has always been tough to run an organized and efficient office, but this seems to have been compounded in recent times when PC’s started to pop-up all over and we allowed employees to eat at their desks. Now it is not uncommon to see a number of wires running everywhere, overloaded electrical sockets, and empty fast food bags and cups laying around. We used to complain about ashtrays, but this appears to be a thing of the past. Instead, we find cigarette butts on the ground just outside of the office or outdoor ashtrays overflowing with them. Very professional.

Since I believe our work is an extension of our personal lives, I tend to think of the office as our home away from home. This makes me wonder what we might find if we visited some employee homes. Are they as big a slobs at home as they are at work? If not, why do they find it necessary to trash their office as opposed to their homes?

Office clutter is indicative of management’s organization and a part of the corporate culture. Some believe the sloppier they look, the more they give the appearance they are hard at work. Not necessarily. More likely, sloppiness is indicative the person is trying to hide something and is actually quite lazy.

The military understands the need for organization and keeps their facilities spotless; you are expected to either work on something, file it, or throw it away. If you need new file cabinets, buy them. Your work is obviously not important if you keep the same clutter on your desk all of the time. In fact, such clutter will grow over time. For example, have you ever seen someone with a plastic tray on their desk? Theoretically, such trays are used for work in progress, but you’ll notice the trays never empty and, if anything, the paperwork grows. Every now and then you have to simply throw the contents in the plastic tray into the garbage can.

Programmers typically like to keep a cluttered desk. To overcome this problem we warned our programmers to clean them up or they might find the debris in the trash. At first, they thought this was a hallow warning. They found we were serious when they came in one day and found their desks spotless (and their paperwork in the garbage). We didn’t have a problem with office clutter after doing this a couple of times. Some programmers are aghast when I tell this story, but following our cleanup of the office we actually experienced an increase in productivity simply by enforcing a little discipline in the workplace. This required the programmers to organize themselves better and they were able to focus on the problem at hand as opposed to wading through the mess on their desks. I guess I see programming as a profession in the same sense as I see engineers, architects, and accountants as professions. They also require discipline in order to productively perform their work.

Office clutter is a reflection of a person’s professionalism and, as mentioned, a part of the corporate culture. It can be remedied if management is so inclined to do so. I admire an office that is well run and organized. It tells me the people are serious about their work and a company I want to do business with. Just remember, a cluttered desk is the sign of a lazy mind, not a brilliant one.

First published: February 4, 2008

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  OFFICE GOSSIP – Does your business promote or squelch idle gossip?

LAST TIME:  SMALL BUSINESS OWNER CONCERNS  – Are they any different than large companies?

Listen to Tim on 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: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SMALL BUSINESS OWNER CONCERNS

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 21, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Are they any different than large companies?

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

I was recently at a gathering of independent consultants from around the Tampa Bay area and we got around to talking about the concerns of owners of small businesses. From this, we devised a list of concerns commanding the attention of small-to-medium sized business owners, to wit:

* Employees/Human Resources – staffing and allocations, payroll, benefits, and management.

* Work environment – facilities and equipment, corporate culture.

* Systems – implementing business processes productively, and staying abreast of technological developments for competitive advantage.

* Regulations – complying with rules as established by government and industrial concerns.

* Time Management – scheduling and devoting time to the proper set of priorities.

* Financial Resources – managing and planning cash flow and investments for optimal return on investment.

* General Planning & Strategy – both short term and long term, including an analysis of the market and competition.

At the end of this session, we discovered the concerns of small business owners are essentially no different than large corporations, except on a much smaller scale. The only difference was the small business owner has to move faster than his corporate counterparts simply due to the size of his operation. For example, he doesn’t have time to read voluminous business plans and financial statements. Instead, he requires summary reports which get to the point in a couple of pages. He needs good, sound supporting advice to make his life easier.

This got me thinking about the amount of time and money corporate executives invest in managing their company’s affairs. True, some things require considerable time and effort to investigate, such as researching new products/services and checking market conditions, but most of what is done is what I refer to as “meatball” type analysis which should be easy and relatively inexpensive to prepare. Let me give you an example; a couple of years ago I was working with a Fortune 500 company who had contracted with another firm to produce a Business Systems Plan. This took several months to perform and resulted in a substantial document over four feet thick (I kid you not) costing the company $1.5 million. I was asked to flip through the document and give an opinion. It only took me a couple of minutes to discover the authors had reused narrative from other client projects in the document and most of it was superfluous. The fact it was incredibly thick and printed on some pretty impressive looking paper gave the company the feeling they had gotten their money’s worth from the consultants. Interestingly, the company never acted on the information contained in the document simply because it was too voluminous and they couldn’t find their way through it. In reality, a ten page report could have satisfied the company’s needs, but I guess you cannot charge $1.5 million for a ten page document can you?

The point of all this is the size of a company really has no bearing on the concerns of those charged with running it. They are all essentially the same. In addition, the business owner doesn’t have the time or inclination to be devoured by detail. Although such detail may be important, summary reports are more effective for supporting the needs of business owners. They simply want accurate and reliable information to act on regardless of the form it takes, but preferably not four feet thick.

“Regardless of company size, the concerns of executive management are all essentially the same.”
– Bryce’s Law

First published: December 17, 2007

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  DEALING WITH OFFICE CLUTTER – The fundamentals are not as complicated as you might think.

LAST TIME:  LIFETIME WARRANTIES  – They make good business sense.

Listen to Tim on 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 Management | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

LIFETIME WARRANTIES

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 18, 2017

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– They make good business sense.

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

Let me begin by saying I genuinely believe Zippo Lighters and Cross Pen and Pencils are the best products of their kind in the world today. I know there are more expensive products out there with more elegant designs, but for my money it’s Zippo and Cross. Now let me explain why. I’ve enjoyed these products for over thirty years now and in that time I’ve learned that as good and durable as these products are, they will inevitably experience normal wear and tear, thereby requiring maintenance. In this era of disposable products, our first inclination might be to simply throw such products away and purchase new ones, but both companies offer lifetime warranties which they stand behind. And I have taken them up on their offer to repair products on more than one occasion with no questions asked. Each time I send in my lighters and pen and pencil sets, they come back like new, and the only thing I paid for was postage to ship the products to them.

It is comforting to know there are still companies out there who stand behind their products through thick and thin, a rarity in today’s disposable society. Some people think that such warranties are no longer practical to implement anymore, that it is cheaper just to buy a new lighter or pen. What these people fail to realize is that lifetime warranties mean lifetime customers; that consumers such as myself develop loyalties to the products, not just because of how they look and work, but because they know the vendor is prepared to maintain their products. This instills a sense of confidence in the consumer which leads to loyalty and repeat business. Not only are lifetime warranties good business, I can’t imagine why there aren’t more companies with comparable products offering such support.

Understand this, Zippo and Cross are also playing the odds. If everyone were to send back their lighters and pens for repair they might swamp the companies and cost them millions. But they realize most people tend to dispose of such products and buy new ones instead. So, although they generously offer a fine lifetime warranty, they recognize that only a fraction of their customers will actually take them up on their offer. Nonetheless, the lifetime warranty stands out in the consumer’s mind and causes repetitive business.

It’s nice to know there are still companies in the United States who understand what customer service means and the effect it can have on the bottom-line of a company. So, next time you are checking out that fancy new lighter and pen and pencil set, do yourself a favor, go and take a look at what Zippo and Cross have to offer. They stand behind their products. Do their competitors?

First published: December 10, 2007

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  LIFETIME WARRANTIES – They make good business sense.

LAST TIME:  SMALL BUSINESS OWNER CONCERNS  – Are they any different than large companies?

Listen to Tim on 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 | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

WHAT THE ATTACKS ON OUR MONUMENTS TRULY MEANS

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 17, 2017

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– It’s certainly not about history.

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

The attacks on our national monuments have less to do with history and social consciousness, and more to do with control over today’s political climate. Allow me to explain. We hear of statues in the south pertaining to the Civil War being removed or defaced, particularly those depicting Generals Robert E. Lee and J.E.B Stuart. As a youngster growing up in the north, I was taught of the evils of slavery and the costly war to end it. However, as I grew up and moved around for my profession, I learned of the culture of the South and the pride of its citizens. They knew they lost the war and learned to live with it. For over a hundred years, they honored their dead for their spirit. Now, suddenly, such symbols are under attack. Even this misplaced Yankee, who now resides in the South, is alarmed by the determined push to deface our history.

Let me be clear, the Civil War, which regrettably led to thousands of deaths and destruction, ultimately defined who we are as a country. It should have been fought many years earlier, but we wouldn’t have had a Declaration of Independence had we done so. In other words, the war was inevitable and costly to both sides.

Aside from the Civil War monuments, we are also hearing of other national monuments being defaced, such as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, and the Viet Nam War Wall. I suspect the Jefferson Memorial or Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta will be next. Undoubtedly, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington will be safe as it is considered politically correct.

Here’s the problem; why are these monuments under attack today? Most have stood for several decades without any concern for their safety. Why not last year when Mr. Obama was still in office? It seems rather obvious the people calling for the removal or destruction of the monuments are the same people who hate President Trump. In other words, this is more of a protest to the President than it is about the social/historical significance of some aging statues. Ever since the Liberals lost the White House, they have felt free to vent their anger which is widely reported by the press.

If you will recall, a few years ago the Taliban destroyed ancient Mideastern artifacts in order to change history and focus attention on themselves. The same is now true in America where the Left wants to erase American history and culture in order to put the spotlight on their social agenda. Their callous disrespect for our history is predictable and we will likely see more guards in our Park Service protecting our treasures.

In all likelihood, we will soon hear objections to former presidents appearing on our currency and coins. The national anthem is already under attack by NFL stars, but we’ll see growing disrespect for it, not to mention other patriotic marches which will come under attack. I, for one, will certainly miss John Philip Sousa. Other established American institutions may also come under scrutiny, such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, Arlington Cemetary, and any museum describing our past.

The President has called for cooler heads in this conflict and has criticized neo-Nazis and the KKK, but this will not pacify the Left who will continue to resist Mr. Trump’s actions and criticize his every word. I’m afraid the situation is only going to get worse before it gets better. To the Leftist movement, this is all out war and will stay contentious until the mid-term elections next year. Should they lose more Congressional seats, as I suspect they will due to their behavior, they may finally snap and violent anarchy will erupt.

No, the attack on our monuments is not so much about our history as it is about the anti-Trump movement.

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:  LIFETIME WARRANTIES – They make good business sense.

LAST TIME:  SMALL BUSINESS OWNER CONCERNS  – Are they any different than large companies?

Listen to Tim on 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 History, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE DRIVING TOP TEN

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 16, 2017

BRYCE ON TRANSPORTATION

– What drives me wild on the open road.

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

I recently drove from the South to the Midwest and back again. It has been quite a while since I’ve driven a long distance (about 1,000 miles each way) and it caused me to remember why I don’t like to take such trips anymore. We all have our own little idiosyncrasies for driving; for example, older people tend to move more slowly and cautiously than younger people who race pell-mell down the highway; and people tend to drive according to the customs of the geographical region they come from. Nonetheless, I have assembled a “Top 10” list of the basic driving habits irritating me and, if corrected, would make driving a lot more bearable for all of us. There is nothing earth-shattering here, just some observations on common driving deficiencies:

10. TURN SIGNALS – I guess I’m among the few people who still know what that little stick to the left side of the steering column is all about. It amazes me how many people do not use turn signals anymore. Maybe its because most of us are driving with one hand on the steering column and talking on a cell phone with the other. I guess letting another driver know where you are turning pales in comparison to asking Aunt Edna what to pick up at the grocery store. I tend to believe people who drive with a stick shift are more inclined to use turn signals as they are less likely to be talking on the phone as they are shifting (although I have seen it done). As trivial as the turn signal appears to be, it is a simple and effective means of communicating to other drivers what your intentions are, be it a turn or a lane change, but I think most drivers just want to keep others guessing what they are doing.

9. TAILGATING – You see this a lot in situations where younger and more aggressive drivers are frustrated with the old codgers driving below the speed limit. Its a little nerve-racking seeing someone draft another car like it was the Daytona 500. It makes you wonder why there aren’t more accidents. Maybe the best way to overcome this problem is to assign times during the day when we are allowed to drive, thereby overcoming the problem of different driving speeds; for example:

AgeMorningLunchtimeDinner

16-22 6:00am – 7:30am 11:30am – 12:00pm 3:00pm – 4:30pm
23-65 7:30am – 9:00am 12:00pm – 1:00pm 5:30pm – 7:00pm
66-90 9:00am – 11:30am 1:00pm – 3:00pm 4:30pm – 5:30pm

You are on your own anytime between 7:00pm – 6:00am.

8. OBNOXIOUS TRAFFIC LIGHTS – This is more of a problem with the Department of Transportation than a particular set of drivers. I don’t know who programs the traffic lights these days, but someone seems hell bent on gnarling traffic during rush hour. Maybe its a game someone is playing with us as to who can cause the biggest traffic build up. I’ve had people tell me that traffic lights are becoming very expensive. If this is true, maybe it would be more economical to replace them all with traffic cops who at least know what they are doing. I realize we have some pretty sophisticated computer technology to help us with traffic but I for one don’t see how it is helping us. When it comes to traffic control, I still don’t believe a computer can match the commonsense of a human being.

7. WEAVING – No, I’m not talking about drunk drivers driving erratically on the highway. Instead, I’m talking about the younger people who are weaving between lanes at breakneck speed, either on motorcycles or high performance vehicles. Weaving has become somewhat of a national pastime on our interstate highways, a dangerous game of “Chicken” that could kill not just the drivers, but the other innocent drivers who are trying to mind their own business as well. Why can’t they just stay home and do this on their X-Box or Playstation as opposed to driving the rest of us crazy?

6. LOST “OUT-OF-TOWNERS” – You know what I mean; those people who are just plain lost and instead of reading a map, they are content to slow down at every intersection to see if this is the road they should turn into. Wouldn’t it be nice if the out-of-towners simply drove in the right-hand lane with their emergency signals flashing to let us know they are lost and to avoid them? It will never happen.

5. RUBBERNECKING – This drives me particularly crazy as I have been tied up in miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic too many times only to discover that drivers were rubbernecking to look at some insignificant problem on the highway. I don’t care if the problem is large or small, keep your eyes looking forward and drive the car. You can always read about the accident in tomorrow’s newspaper. Hey, maybe that’s it: Instead of sending out a tow-truck or emergency vehicle to the site of a problem, let’s rush a news team to the site first so they can report on the accident which the other drivers can tune into on their radios.

Rubbernecking turns small problems into larger ones.

4. LACK OF COMMON COURTESY – How many times have we seen people cut off others, or someone not allow another driver to enter traffic? Far too many I’m afraid. I tend to believe how we drive is a reflection of our socialization skills. As opposed to cooperating, we tend to viscously compete on the roadways which, of course, leads to road rage. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some other signal to use other than the one finger salute?

3. SLOW TURNS – Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of drivers who don’t seem to know how to make a turn. Instead of just slowing down a bit before making their turn, I’m seeing people come to almost a standstill; kind of like having an invisible red light they are obeying. I hope they are not seeing something that I’m not.

2. EXPRESS LANE DRIVERS – Another name for the express lane is “passing lane” which perhaps more accurately describes the intent of the left lane on our highways. It disturbs me when it isn’t used for this purpose. For example, some people get into the express lane and do nothing more than the speed limit, if that. They act like a pace car when the danger flags are out. I don’t know why they do this other than they want to deliberately irritate the other people driving around them. It is kind of like them saying prissily, “Well the speed limit is 55 and I’ll be damn if I’ll let anybody go faster than that.” I just wish I had a James Bond type of car where the rear axle would extend with knives on the end to rip out their tires.

1. CELL PHONES – Well, Duh!! What did you think my number one would be? I wish I had a jamming device which would shutdown all cell phones around me when I’m driving. This would force the other drivers to use both hands on the wheel and concentrate on traffic.

The rules and regulations of the road are really not that complicated. I remember when I first took the written test when I turned 16. The one section I found humorous is where they asked you to identify various street signs. For the “Crossroad” sign they gave you the following multiple choices: 1-Crossroad ahead, 2-Church ahead, 3-A person died on this spot. I wonder how many people got this wrong? Interestingly, I remember the Valedictorian of my High School class (a real “Brainiac”) failed the written test three times. I guess he was looking for the meaning of life in a stop sign.

Driving should be a simple and pleasurable experience. Unfortunately, it’s not. It seems we go out of our way to misinterpret the rules or devise our own on the fly. Which makes me wonder who is passing out the drivers licenses: 1-Homer Simpson, 2-American Foundation for the Blind, 3-Your local gas station attendant (Hint: we haven’t had gas station attendants in 30 years).

Back in 1965, CBS aired the National Drivers Test during prime time, the purpose of which was to educate adults and try to determine the level of driver competency. This was well received and helped improve awareness of basic driving techniques. Sounds like it’s about time CBS ran it again.

First published: August 13, 2007

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  LIFETIME WARRANTIES – They make good business sense.

LAST TIME:  EMPTY NESTS  – What happens when your children finally leave home.

Listen to Tim on 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 Life, Transportation | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

EMPTY NESTS

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 14, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– What happens when your children finally leave home.

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

I have finally reached that stage in my life where my children have grown up and are off pursuing other interests. Its kind of strange experiencing the empty nest syndrome. You start to notice small changes right away, such as how the volume of trash goes down, as does your water, power, and food bills. The phone doesn’t ring as much and it’s generally a lot quieter around the house at night. Maybe the hardest part is changing your eating habits. Instead of shopping and cooking for a group of people, you find yourself staring at the TV over a Marie Callender pot pie or a Stouffer’s pizza. It takes quite an adjustment to learn how to cook for two.

As your offspring leaves, you determine its finally time to clean out their rooms. This is when you find that socket set you’ve been missing for the last five years and your old records and CD’s you had forgotten about. And when they come back for a visit they look at you mortified as to why you found it necessary to clean out their rooms. “Wasn’t it okay the way it was?” Some people like to go the extra mile and replace the furniture and create a new guest room or den. This really exasperates the kids as to why you didn’t do this earlier when they were still home.

Although you were always looking for a little peace and quiet around the house after the kids were gone, now you find you cannot sleep as the house seems too quiet to you. I guess we get conditioned to a little helter-skelter being around us.

You also discover you’re starting to get some free time on your hands. Instead of school functions and chasing the kids around the ball fields, you finally have time to reacquaint yourself with your spouse. The only problem is you are not in your twenties or thirties anymore and you both find more solace in reading a good book or watching a movie then chasing each other around the bedroom. You’re not dead yet, but you come to the painful realization that life isn’t quite the same anymore.

Perhaps the hardest part of the empty nest is realizing the kids are no longer chasing you around anymore and that you are now chasing them. You no longer take them for granted and cherish every moment you speak to them on the phone as well as every e-mail or letter they send you. The hardest part is simply missing them.

First published: June 18, 2007

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  EMPTY NESTS – What happens when your children finally leave home.

LAST TIME:  THE DRIVING TOP TEN  – What drives me wild on the open road.

Listen to Tim on 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 Life | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

ARE I.T. WORKERS BLUE COLLAR?

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 11, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Good question. Do programmers act like professionals?

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

“Are I.T. Workers Blue Collar?” Interesting question. I was recently asked this by some executives who were concerned with improving the productivity of their I.T. departments. I asked them to explain why they thought this way. They contended their I.T. people (e.g., analysts and programmers) exhibit a lot of blue collar characteristics, e.g., repetition in types of work performed, they do not dress or act like professionals, and regularly punch in and out of work with little interest in going above and beyond the call of duty.

I countered there were two other aspects to consider: first, blue collar workers tend to perform manual labor, and; second, they are nonexempt workers who are paid an hourly wage. Also, they tended to be less educated than white collar workers.

They told me I was being naive; that blue collar workers can perform technical tasks as well as manual tasks, such as those found in manufacturing and assembly; and although they are classified as exempt workers paid a salary, they tend to behave like hourly workers instead. Further, there are plenty of blue collar workers who were just as educated, if not more so, than a lot of the programmers and analysts on their staffs. One executive even went so far as to tell me about a couple of craftsman machinists he had with MBA degrees.

Frankly, I had a hard time refuting their arguments. This is actually an old concept, one which I haven’t heard in quite some time, back to the 1980’s when there was talk of unionizing programmers. Nonetheless, it should cause us to pause and think how I.T. people are regarded in the board room. To me, it suggests a credibility gap between management and I.T. and helps explain why a lot of jobs are being outsourced.

In recent years I have met a lot of people who have abandoned corporate I.T. shops and have opted to become consultants instead. Its not that they didn’t like their companies, they simply became disenchanted with how I.T. departments were being run, read the writing on the wall, and figured it was time to bail out before they were outsourced. So who is at fault here, management or I.T.? If management truly perceives I.T. workers as blue collar, than there will be a great temptation to give the work to shops overseas at greatly reduced costs.

There are those in the I.T. field who believe unionization is the route to take. As far as I’m concerned, this would be the kiss of death to corporate I.T. shops as executives would rather outsource than be held hostage to a union.

Instead, I believe I.T. workers should do some soul searching and ask themselves how they can differentiate themselves from their foreign counterparts. Technical knowledge alone will not do it any longer. Outsourcers have already demonstrated their technical skills are on a par with ours. No, the answer is they must demonstrate how the I.T. department adds more value to the company than an outsider can. This means they have to become more serious about their work and produce better I.T. solutions more quickly, correctly, and less expensively. Anyone can apply quick and dirty Band-Aid solutions. What is needed is a higher caliber of professionalism and improved skills in management. The I.T. workers have to work both harder and smarter. In other words, job assignments have to be performed in a more professional and craftsman-like manner (methodically with a quality consciousness). This requires a more disciplined, organized, and professional attitude which is the exception as opposed to the rule in a lot of I.T. shops today.

If I.T. can demonstrate they behave more like white collar professionals, executives will become dependent on them and will be less likely to outsource their jobs. Ideally, you want to hear executives say, “I can’t live without these guys (the I.T. department).” But if executives perceive you, the I.T. worker, as nothing more than a blue collar worker, than your story is told.

Think I’m kidding? Consider this, I know of a large manufacturing company in the U.S. Midwest who had a pressing I.T. project not long ago. Knowing he was short on staff, the CIO appealed to the executive board for additional funding for more personnel. Basically, the board gave the CIO carte blanche to hire as many people he wanted at generous wages, with whatever job title the workers wanted. But the CIO was explicitly told, “When the project is over, fire them.” Do you think these executives had a high regard for I.T. people?

So, are I.T. workers “Blue Collar”? Look in the mirror and you tell me.

“How we look and act speaks volumes.”
– Bryce’s Law

First published: June 4, 2007

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  EMPTY NESTS – What happens when your children finally leave home.

LAST TIME:  BEWARE OF BAITING  – Do not allow yourself to be baited in debate.

Listen to Tim on 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 Management, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

WHAT PRICE QUALITY?

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 9, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– And who is responsible for its implementation?

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

We now live in a fast paced society where we expect products and services to be delivered rapidly, cheaply, and with a high degree of quality. This is particularly true in the systems and software industry. If we lived in a perfect world, systems and software would be developed rapidly and inexpensively, they would effectively satisfy business needs, and would be easy to maintain and modify. There is only one problem with this scenario: it is a fantasy. In reality, we live in a “disposable” world where systems and software are slapped together in the hopes everything will hold together and will pacify the end-user for the moment. Some people believe striving for a Utopian world is an impossibility and, as such, resign themselves to rewriting systems and software time and again as opposed to designing them to be industrial strength.

Improving speed in the development process is relatively simple to accomplish; e.g., the plethora of programming tools available, but adding quality into a product is something entirely different. From the outset we must recognize quality doesn’t come naturally to people anymore. Back when there was a sense of craftsmanship, quality was rarely a problem. This is back when people identified with their work products, and strove to seek perfection as it was a reflection of their character. Corners were not cut and products were made to last. Unfortunately, we no longer live in such times and people tend to disassociate their work from their personal lives. Further, the speed and sophistication of our tools leads us to believe we are producing quality products. The reality is that our tools are only as good as the people using them, not the other way around.

A PERFECT WORLD

How one person perceives quality may be entirely different than another’s. This is because we tend to have different perspectives in how to build something, e.g., whereas one person may build a product one way, another may build it using an entirely different approach. This means products are commonly built using inconsistent methods. Let me give you some examples:

* If we lived in a perfect world, we would have a standardized approach for defining requirements, thereby everyone would be operating with a standard approach for scrutinizing requirements, but the reality is our approach to requirements definition is redefined with each development project, thereby making it impossible to validate requirements with any consistency.

* If we lived in a perfect world, programs would be designed in a standardized manner so they may be easily modified or maintained by any other programmer at a later date, but the reality is programs are written based on the personal nuances of the programmer, making it next to impossible to maintain or modify by another person. Consequently programs are discarded and rewritten.

* If we lived in a perfect world, developers would adhere to a standard and consistent approach (methodology) whereby uniform work products could be produced and reviewed, thereby improving communications among the staff and allowing for the interchangeability of workers in the development process, but the reality is, the development process is defined on a project-by-project basis, thereby uniformity and interchangeability is defeated.

The reality is we live in an imperfect world. What would appear to be obvious approaches to development seldom occurs in most systems and software shops. It is simply unnatural to developers who prefer to operate independently as opposed to adopting a shop standard. This of course means development organizations tend to “reinvent the wheel” with each project.

Because of such inconsistencies, the only option for improving quality is to try to inspect the product after it has been built, not during development. Under this approach, inspection is complicated as each person has designed the product according to their own personal interpretation of development, not as a standard body of work.

BUILDING QUALITY INTO THE PRODUCT

It is obviously cheaper and more sensible to arrest a product defect early during development as opposed to trying to catch it afterwards. To do so, the development process has to be subdivided into defined units of work specifying what is to be produced (work products, aka “deliverables”), how it should be produced (using accepted tools and techniques), and its acceptance criteria (including review points). Such a work environment is in sharp contrast to “The Black Hole” approach used by most organizations today; e.g., requirements are fed into an unknown development environment and the resultant product is inspected afterwards. This approach concentrates only on the final deliverable and not on the overall process by which the product is to be developed. By the time the final product is produced, it may be unrecognizable to the user and the project may have exceeded estimated cost and schedule. Even worse, the product may have to be redesigned and rewritten over and over again. Interestingly, this is the approach advocated by today’s “Agile” proponents.

In other manufacturing practices, the definition of the work environment is the responsibility of an Industrial Engineer who defines the units of work in the development of a product (assembly line), the standard tools and techniques to be used, the work products, and the acceptance criteria. Although the concept of Industrial Engineering is applicable to systems and software, few development organizations are familiar with the concept.

THE PRICE OF QUALITY

Regardless of what you call it, Industrial Engineering or Quality Assurance, quality requires a dedicated group of people to define the overall development process, monitor progress, and constantly research new ways to improve it (tools and techniques). This does not mean quality is the sole responsibility of such a group. It is not. Quality is the responsibility of every person involved in the development process. The group simply provides leadership in this regards.

In terms of costs, the truth is that quality is free (as the likes of Philip Crosby have pointed out to us). True, it requires an outlay of money upfront to embark on a quality assurance program, but this will be offset by reduced costs later on in terms of reduced development time and fewer defects requiring rework. By having everyone working according to defined processes and work products, errors are caught and corrected early in the development process. Further, work products are easier to maintain and modify later on, this specifically includes systems and software. Such a program, therefore, does not add overhead to the development process, it reduces it.

To make this work though requires commitment from management and herein lies the rub. As I mentioned earlier, we live in fast-paced times. Implementing an effective quality assurance program takes time to cultivate, it cannot be installed overnight. There is more to it than mechanics; standards have to be devised, attitudes have to be adjusted, consciousness’ raised, etc. In other words, it is the people-side of quality that takes time to mature and become ingrained in the corporate culture. As such, a quality assurance program requires management vision and long-term commitment to see it come to fruition. This is difficult to sell to managers who have trouble thinking past the next financial statement, but if executives understand that a company truly runs on systems and software, then they will be more amenable to investing in industrial strength applications.

CONCLUSION

Its interesting, the systems and software industry is one of the few industries that resists standardization as opposed to embracing it. Standardization is an inherent part of any quality program. It means devising and applying craftsman-like rules in the development of a product or service. Such rules substantiates completion of work in a prescribed sequence and is measurable. Remarkably, it is this kind of accountability developers resist.

Some developers even go so far as to question the necessity of a quality assurance program since many companies rewrite their systems and software year after year. Maybe they are right, but I tend to see this as a defeatist attitude, that we can do nothing more than produce mass mediocrity. I believe we can do better, but to do so, we need to invest in ourselves and our future. Remember, you must first plant the seeds in order to harvest the crop. Unfortunately, most companies tend to eat the seeds and then there is no crop to harvest. Somehow I am reminded of the old expression, “You can pay me now or pay me later, but you’re going to pay me.”

First published: May 28, 2007

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  ARE I.T. WORKERS BLUE COLLAR? – Good question. Do programmers act like professionals?

LAST TIME:  BEWARE OF BAITING  – Do not allow yourself to be baited in debate.

Listen to Tim on 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 »

BEWARE OF BAITING

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 7, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Do not allow yourself to be baited in debate.

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

Every once and awhile you run into a person who is determined to “get your goat,” someone hell-bent on antagonizing you. It doesn’t have to be over anything in particular, some people just contrarily want to pick a fight with you. You say “white,” he says “black,” not for any particular reason other than to just irritate you. Regardless how polite you might be or how rational your argument is, they fight you. In fact, most of the time they offer sardonic witticisms and perhaps some vulgarities to refute what you are talking about and try to bait you into a brawl in order to make you look bad, and they can be successful if you are suckered into such a confrontation.

For years I have run into such people; not too many, just enough to leave an impression on me. These types of people fall into the category of what I have been calling “Homo Sapien Ass*****” (HSA) whose perceptions of reality are distorted and there is no swaying them otherwise. In some cases, their perception of reality is fine, they are simply jealous of anyone else in the spotlight and argue just to make you look bad.

I’ve noticed this occurring more and more recently in Blogs and Internet discussion groups. I’ll see someone write something valuable in such forums only to have someone else maliciously ridicule it, not because it is wrong, but because they simply don’t like the person and want to discredit him. It’s interesting, such forums offer the means to conceal your identity. People seem more inclined to criticize and ridicule when their identify is concealed, as opposed to when it isn’t. They seem more apt to write a poison pen letter than to confront you face-to-face. These people are, of course, cowards. The negativity and sniping in some of these discussion groups is such that I am reminded of the old expression, “If you haven’t got anything good to say, don’t say anything.”

Regardless, what is the best way to deal with such people? Well, having survived such attacks on the Internet perhaps I can offer some advice. First, never take the bait. Never dance to their tune. Never. Always take the high ground and maintain your dignity. Remember, other people will be watching your response. They already know there is a troublemaker trying to get to you, but do yourself a favor and don’t lower yourself to their level. Remain calm and if you have to refute their arguments, due it respectfully and professionally, especially if they do not follow suit. Those watching will take note and think the better of you. Stay above the fray. Make the other person look like the idiot that he is. Inevitably, you will get more supporters than your antagonist. I am reminded of something Oscar Wilde said years ago, “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”

How you handle an antagonist in the public is one thing; how you handle such a person one-on-one is something else. Understand this, they are not interested in rational discourse, only making you look bad in some public forum. Always take the high ground in publicly refuting them, but for one-on-one confrontations, the kid gloves are off.

I write on a variety of topics and I’m not expecting everyone to agree with me all of the time, believe me they do not. I’m simply trying to get people to think about things they normally wouldn’t. I welcome all calm and respectful discourse, but if it turns malicious, I know how to hit the delete key and filter out such people from participating in future dialogues. This brings up an important point, if you have the means to control the text entries, be sure to do so. After all, it is your story, not theirs. They may whine about you deleting their comments, but you have to do what is best for the article.

I remember one time when I was in a meeting and had an antagonist heckle me throughout the session. Despite my attempts to answer his questions, he kept badgering me to the point of irritating everyone in the room. Finally I looked at him and said, “Tell me, did your parents have any children that lived?” This resulted in a pregnant pause and gales of laughter (and finally broke the logjam).

Usually your antagonists will try to get in the last word on a subject. If you are lucky, you can get the last word in before they do, but that is uncommon. Its more likely they’ll get the last word, but don’t despair, if you have done your job, they are the ones who will look like the fool, not you.

Remember, don’t let yourself get baited; don’t let them get your goat. Defuse the situation and stay in control.

First published: September 18, 2006

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:  WHAT PRICE QUALITY? – And who is responsible for its implementation?

LAST TIME:  YES MEN  – In reality, such people contribute nothing worthwhile.

Listen to Tim on 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 Life | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

YES MEN

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 4, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– In reality, such people contribute nothing worthwhile.

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

We’ve all seen instances where subordinates mindlessly agree with everything the boss has to say; we call these people “Yes Men.” I’m not really sure why we have such people. Maybe its because the boss wants to surround himself with clods to bolster his self-esteem. Maybe its because people are afraid of disagreeing with the boss in fear of losing their job. Or maybe its as simple as people no longer know how to engage their brains and allows others to make decisions for them. I tend to think its the latter.

Let me ask you something, what is wrong with a little critical thinking? I get involved with a lot of discussion groups on the Internet, both professional and nonprofit groups and am not afraid to put in my two cents. I’m not always looking for everyone to agree with me; many do not. Instead, I thrive on the discourse and find such discussions as fruitful for bringing forth new ideas and finding solutions for problems. Some people are scared to participate in such groups and either remain quiet or simply maintain the party line. I call these types of people “cowards” or “sheep.”

One of my favorite movies is “Twelve Angry Men,” an old black-and-white courtroom story starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, and others. The story centers on the dynamics of a jury who must decide the fate of a teenager in the murder of his father. At first, the jury consists of mostly “Yes Men” who simply want to prosecute the teenager and move on with their lives. Fonda wants to discuss the case in more detail before making a snap decision, and is castigated by the others for slowing them down. By discussing the evidence in more detail, the jurors, one by one, determine the teenager is not guilty. In particular, there is an interesting scene where one of the jurors changes his vote from guilty to innocent more as a whim as opposed to any specific evidence. This infuriates another jurist who challenges the other to explain why he changed his vote. This is an excellent example of how “Yes Men” can get into trouble, simply because they refuse to engage their brain.

What we need in business today are fewer “Yes Men” and more people who can use their heads, but I guess that requires work.

First published: August 21, 2006

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:  BEWARE OF BAITING – Do not allow yourself to be baited in debate.

LAST TIME:  THE PERILS OF NEGATIVITY  – Learn to avoid the whiners.

Listen to Tim on 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 »

 
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