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Posts Tagged ‘Management’

HI HO, HI HO, IT’S BACK TO WORK WE GO

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 6, 2014

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Now is the time for management to stimulate the work force.

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

Okay, the holidays are over, our friends and relatives should have returned home, the retailers had their way with us, we’re back in debt, the holiday decorations should have been stored away for another year, and a sense of normalcy should be returning. It’s a new year, and time to go back to work. January is when we reset the statistics, brace for a new year, and try to prove ourselves once again.

Some people have trouble getting back into the swing of work after the holidays; they’ve probably slept too much, partied too much, and ate way too much, which explains the five-to-eight pounds they’ve put on. This is why dieting and temperance are among the top New Year’s resolutions. Regardless, they are having trouble focusing on their work.

People tend to believe December is the worst month for productivity. Hardly. In addition to general retail, December is when companies try to finish spending the money in their corporate budgets thereby initiating a flurry of activity. Companies would much rather spend money on technology, office furniture, construction, or their employees as opposed to giving it to the government. Instead, January is more difficult as managers have to encourage lethargic employees back to work. The cold weather doesn’t help either.

Now is the time for some imaginative management techniques to motivate the work force. Basically, I’m suggesting some changes to the corporate culture. Physically, you might want to consider a new coat of paint, changes in lighting, some aromatic plants or flowers, new uniforms, new screen savers, a cleanup of office files and furniture, some changes in music, or perhaps something different to eat in the corporate cafeteria. In other words, consider changes affecting the five senses of the workers. It doesn’t have to be lavish either, just something subtle the employees will notice and appreciate.

You may also want to rethink meetings, including when they are conducted, location, and format. For example, instead of a boardroom setup, how about a u-shaped set of tables allowing the manager to easily move about? A change of dress code may also be wise; if you’ve been too lax and sloppy, perhaps it is time to become a little more formal. If you’ve been too formal, perhaps it is time to loosen things up. Believe me, employees notice and respond.

It shouldn’t be the manager’s objective to make radical changes in work habits. Such changes will be resisted regardless of the time of year. Instead, small changes will be noticed by employees who will see them in a positive light, that management appreciates them and is willing to invest in them. “Hmm…, a New Year, some new changes… I like it.”

Your objective is to demonstrate you are investing in your people, and not taking them for granted. Whatever the twist may be, January is the time for management to try it. In all likelihood, it will capture the attention of the work force and help reinvigorate them for the new year.

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 30 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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHAT’S IN A JOB TITLE? – Evidently a lot.

LAST TIME:  2013 YEAR-END WRAP-UP – My most popular columns this year.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

FREE “BRYCE’S LAWS” MINI-POSTERS AVAILABLE

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 3, 2012

The popular “Bryce’s Laws” have been entertaining people for many years. They include axioms pertaining to management, systems, technology, and life. In response to growing interest, two new “Bryce’s Laws” mini-posters are now available in PDF format (8.5″ X 11″) suitable for free downloading and printing locally.


BRYCE’S LAWS ON
LIFE

Click on image to download.


BRYCE’S LAWS ON
MANAGEMENT

Click on image to download.

ALSO AVAILABLE:

BRYCE’S LAWS ON: INFORMATION SYSTEMS, and PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

Posters courtesy of M& JB Investment Company, Palm Harbor, Florida.

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

GEORGE W. BUSH AS MANAGER-IN-CHIEF

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 11, 2011

Over the holidays I read President George W. Bush’s new book, “Decision Points” (497 pages, Crown Publishers, ISBN 978-0-307-59061-9). The book chronicles his years in the White House and the tough decisions he grappled with. His intention was to go beyond just writing another autobiography, but to also explain how he arrived at certain key decisions. By doing so, he gives us a rare glimpse of the complicated issues a U.S. President faces and the decision making process he used to address them, something that is normally delegated to historians to ponder years afterward.

As a management consultant, I found this book particularly intriguing and wanted to try and define Bush’s style of management. To do so, I decided to test it against our “Bryce Management Analysis” feature on our corporate web site, a tool designed to analyze and define a particular management personality based on a person’s responses to a series of questions posed to him. From this, we can deduce a person’s management characteristics regarding such things as leadership, style, corporate culture, environmental considerations, and results orientation. After I finished the President’s book, I answered the questions on his behalf and produced the following analysis. Please keep in mind I inputted responses based on Bush’s own personal perspective as explained in the book. In other words, it is produced solely from his perspective and not others such as members of the media, political rivals, or even other friends, family, or colleagues. What follows below is the analysis produced from our tool along with supplemental comments pertaining to each section.

ANALYZER: “In terms of LEADERSHIP, it appears you are properly articulating your goals and priorities with your workers. You appear to be in tune with the needs of your business and, as such, I suspect your goals and objectives are synchronized with the business. It appears you have the necessary leadership skills to lead your people.”

The American public will be surprised to learn how spiritual the President was and how his beliefs guided him throughout his presidency. From this, he showed great empathy for the people serving him, particularly the troops and victims of catastrophes. He wrote, “I felt it was my responsibility to comfort those who had lost a loved one” (pg 204). In turn, Bush drew his strength and resolve from the people he was trying to comfort.

Throughout the book, Bush reveals his frailties as a human-being and the mistakes he has made. He would be the first to admit he is certainly not perfect, just a human-being trying hard to do what is right, which is all we can ask of any manager.

When he was convinced of the necessity for doing something, he doggedly pursued it. His persistence created a sense of urgency among his people. He would listen to arguments from all sides before forming a decision, but after it had been made, there was no second-guessing.

Bush was also smart enough to know his limitations and when he didn’t know the right course of action to pursue, relied on the advice of others. To illustrate, in discussing military operations in Iraq he wrote, “I did not try to manage the logistics or the tactical decisions. My instinct was to trust the judgment of the military leadership. They were the trained professionals;…” (pg 195).

A U.S. President must inevitably react to events outside of his control. In Bush’s case, it was 9-11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Great Recession of 2008. To his credit though, he understood the need for being more proactive than reactive even if it meant sharp criticism from the media and his political opponents. For example, in describing his approach to combating terrorism he wrote, “We needed to disrupt attacks before they happened, not just investigate them after they took place” (pg 145). He goes on to write, “From the beginning, I knew the public reaction to my decisions would be colored by whether there was another attack. If none happened, whatever I did would probably look like an overreaction. If we were attacked again, people would demand to know why I hadn’t done more. That is the nature of the presidency. Perceptions are shaped by the clarity of hindsight. In the moment of decision, you don’t have that advantage” (pg 180).

Bush met frequently with his team to make sure everyone was operating on the same page. Communications and consistency were important to him, as was simple teamwork. In describing his loss in the New Hampshire primary to John McCain he explains, “The conventional playbook called for me to fire a few people and claim a fresh start. I decided to go in the opposite direction. I got the senior staff together and told them I refused to chuck anyone overboard to satisfy the loud voices on TV. One person deserved blame, and that was me. Win or lose, we would finish this race as a team” (pg 72).

These earmarks caused me to conclude he possessed good leadership skills; he was a principled man, drew strength from his people and constituents, believed in being proactive as opposed to reactive (he clearly understood the difference between complacency and action), promoted the concept of teamwork over individual achievement, and stressed the need for his people to perform their duties in a consistent manner. Despite all of this, mistakes were still made and he frequently took the blame as opposed to his people (a trait shared by other presidents, particularly Lincoln). Throughout the book he openly admits when his team got something wrong. He would then take the blame himself as opposed to his underlings, thereby shielding his people and creating a sense of trust and loyalty.

ANALYZER: “In terms of MANAGEMENT STYLE, your responses indicate a Theory Y form of management with some leaning towards Theory Z. This means you are willing to delegate responsibility and empower your workers to do the job they are assigned. I also suspect you have a good rapport with your workers and are inclined to trust them. It also sounds like they are beginning to act like a team as opposed to a group of individuals.”

As mentioned, Bush knew his limitations and leaned on the advice of people he trusted. There is no evidence that he micromanaged anyone, but created an esprit de corps whereby his people were charged with assigned tasks and given a certain level of power to make their own decisions. It was definitely a “bottom-up” approach where Bush empowered his people and they, in turn, reported to him on progress and asked his advice on key decisions.

This meant Bush was careful in his selection of people to serve key positions surrounding him. A person’s sense of integrity, honor and trustworthiness was critical. The president would stand with you through thick and thin so long as you maintained your integrity, but if you deviated, he would rightfully abandon you. He would also look for team players and stressed the need for it. As he wrote, “I started each personnel decision by defining the job description and the criteria for the ideal candidate. I directed a wide search and considered a diverse range of options. For major appointments, I interviewed candidates face to face. I used my time to gauge character and personality. I was looking for integrity, competence, selflessness, and an ability to handle pressure. I always liked people with a sense of humor, a sign of modesty and awareness” (pg 66). Later in the book he wrote, “But as someone who valued personal diplomacy, I put a high premium on trust. Once that trust was violated, it was hard to have a constructive relationship again” (pg 234).

There are clear signs in the book that Bush understood the necessity of building consensus among his people (an essential element of Theory Z management). As an example, “I laid out a process for making it (a complex decision). I would clarify my guiding principles, listen to experts on all sides of the debate, reach a tentative conclusion, and run it past knowledgeable people. After finalizing a decision, I would explain it to the American people” (pgs 110-111).

Bush used a common technique for gathering information and testing his subordinates, “I learn best by asking questions. In some cases, I probe to understand a complex issue. Other times, I deploy questions as a way to test my briefers’ knowledge. If they cannot answer concisely and in plain English, it raises a red flag that they may not fully grasp the subject” (pg 109). “Explaining my decision would be almost as important as making it” (pg 118).

ANALYZER: “In terms of CORPORATE CULTURE, it sounds like you have a very professional working environment, a place that workers are proud to work at and call home. It also sounds like you have been successful in terms of instilling some very positive work habits. In addition, it appears you have reached a homogeneous working environment where everyone is working in a concerted manner.”

From the book, it is rather obvious the president clearly understood the need for defining and controlling the corporate culture. The physical appearance of his offices were used to convey certain subliminal messages and signals, both in Texas when he was governor and the White House. He was also mindful of the power of dress and decorum. There was a time and place for conducting the business of state and a time to relax. Rarely were the two ever confused inappropriately.

Being punctual and organized were considered two important elements of the culture. To illustrate, it was well known the president would order the doors to cabinet meetings closed and locked when they were scheduled to begin. He wrote, “Timeliness is important to make sure an organization does not get sloppy” (pg 109). As a result, the Executive Branch ran on time.

ANALYZER: “In terms of other environmental considerations, it sounds like you may have to tighten some things up, such as minimizing distractions, and improving the workers’ skills and proficiencies. It may also be time to reevaluate and update your working standards.”

This became rather obvious after 9-11, Katrina, and the Great Recession, where new tactics and new thinking was required to remedy problems.

Organizationally, the size of the executive branch begs the issue as to whether it can be effectively managed by any one person. Because of the calamities he faced in office, President Bush was forced to make changes in the organization structure. Perhaps the most visible indication of this was the creation of Homeland Security which consolidated several organizations under one roof. This may be fine for pacifying the moment, but the federal government still needs to be flattened as evidenced by the recent report of the Debt Reduction Commission, not simply due to economics, but to improve communications, productivity, and manageability, thereby making it more responsive to the needs of the country. It could very well benefit from some Enterprise Engineering as I have described in the past.

ANALYZER: “In terms of RESULTS ORIENTATION, it appears you have some work ahead of you in terms of raising the consciousness of your workers in regard to quality and satisfying the customer. It also sounds like you might have a few workers who watch the clock as opposed to deliverables. Try holding some meetings with your workers to discuss these problems and set them on the right path. You want to nip such behavior early so that it doesn’t fester and become worse.”

The first sentence really caught my attention. As we all know, the president’s approval ratings were high in his first term, and dismally low by the end of his second. A lot of this is due to his inability to dispel misconceptions and falsehoods about his actions and connect with his constituents.

Early in his first term, Bush met with many Congressmen on both sides of the aisle to develop a rapport with them. So much so, he was accused of conducting “the biggest charm offensive of any modern chief executive.” This worked fine initially, but as his second presidential election approached, his detractors fought him relentlessly, thereby adding to the gridlock of Washington. Consequently, Bush had to spend an inordinate amount of time answering his critics and opponents which distracted him from conducting the business of his office. As he wrote, “The toxic atmosphere in American politics discourages good people from running for office” (pg 121).

Despite such distractions, he persevered; “The shrill debate never affected my decisions. I read a lot of history, and I was struck by how many presidents had endured harsh criticism. The measure of their character, and often their success, was how they responded. Those who based decisions on principle, not some snapshot of public opinion, were often vindicated over time” (pg 121). He goes on to say, “I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I knew there would be tough days. Self-pity is a pathetic quality in a leader. It sends such demoralizing signals to the team and the country. As well, I was comforted by my conviction that the Good Lord wouldn’t give a believer a burden he couldn’t handle” (pg 459).

One other Bush characteristic caught my attention which is not directly related to management but I think is noteworthy. Based on his narratives in the book, it was obvious to me the president possessed a profound belief in the goodness of America and the principles on which it is based. Like Churchill and Reagan before him, Bush saw Democracy as a vehicle for combating terrorism and securing peace. “The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world… So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world” (pg 396, from 2005 inauguration speech).

Conclusion

Some will interpret “Decision Points” as nothing more than a rationalization for his failures. I didn’t. I found it an intriguing explanation of how he formulated decisions. If his writings are correct, he has done the American public a great service as we only have a rudimentary understanding of what actually goes on in the White House. Here, Bush gives us a front row seat in terms we can all understand.

I have given the president some rather high marks for his management style. His only weakness was his inability to control the external influences facing his administration. By this I do not mean just world events, but answering his critics, the media spin doctors, and communicating with his constituents. This gnawed away at his credibility and forced him to be distracted from tending to the business of state. Then again, there are not too many of us who can focus on their job when they are constantly under attack. Fortunately, Bush had some rather thick skin and took it all in stride graciously.

From Bush’s perspective, he always tried to do what was pragmatic and fair, not necessarily in accordance with the dogma of his political party. Based on his narrative, I have no reason not to believe him. I’m sure others will, but before finding him guilty I would suggest you read his book first. He makes some pretty compelling arguments. Regardless of your political persuasion, as a consultant, I heartily recommend this book as a management read. True, the book has historical significance, but I find it a fascinating first hand account of the decision making process of the Manager-In-Chief.

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Books, Business, Management, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

MANAGING FROM THE BOTTOM-UP

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 22, 2010

“If we lived in a perfect world, there would not be a need for managers.”
– Bryce’s Law

When the American colonies were forming a government in the 18th century, there was a fleeting notion that George Washington should become King with absolute power. Instead, our founding fathers opted for a democratic society where officials were elected by the people. The intent was to give the individual citizen a means to participate in the running of the government. This was a wise decision and has served America well for over 225 years. By being included in the process, people align their loyalties to the government and country, and are quick to come to its defense in times of national emergency. Involving the individual is a simple gesture that has had long range positive effects on our country.

It is an interesting dichotomy that whereas our country involves the individual, most of our other institutions do not. I have been fortunate to have traveled the world and have seen many different types of companies, from large to small, and in just about every field of endeavor imaginable. Most are run top-down with a benevolent (or maybe not so benevolent) dictator at the helm. Assignments, estimates and schedules are pushed down the corporate chain with little regard for the individual employee.

Over the years there has been a lot of discussion about Theories X, Y, and Z in management; whereas “X” is autocratic, “Y” is more of a “carrot and stick” mentality and “Z” promotes individual participation. Remarkably, despite the many years of promoting the rights of the worker, today we primarily live in a Theory X world. Employees are told what to do and when to do it, without any interest in their input. Today, this is commonly referred to as “micromanagement.” Under this approach, although the work will eventually get done, there is no loyalty to the company by the employee, mistakes are made and quality suffers, and productivity declines since there is no personal sense of urgency by the employee. In other words, the company works, but not like a well-oiled machine.

More recently, I have noticed this same phenomenon occurring in non-profit volunteer organizations, such as homeowner associations, clubs, school organizations, sports associations, even church groups. The people that run these groups may have the best intentions, but rarely do they know how to actually manage. Sadly, some people get involved with such organizations to satisfy a petty power trip they are on. Consequently, they have little regard for organization and adherence to policies and rules. Instead, they try to micromanage everything. People, particularly volunteers, have a natural aversion to micromanagement and quickly lose interest in their work.

Let us always remember that the word “management” begins with “man” for a purpose: it refers to how we interact with people and, as such, it is not a clerical or administrative function, but, rather, a people function; how to work with the human being, a very challenging task considering you are dealing with human beings who can be emotional, irrational, and just plain “thick.” There is a countless number of books on the subject of “management” alone. But for our purposes, perhaps the best way to think of “management” is simply “getting people to do what you want, when you want it, and how you want it.” If we lived in a perfect world, there would not be a need for managers; people would know what to do, and projects would be executed on time and within cost. However, as we all know, we live in an imperfect world. People do make mistakes and problems arise, hence, the need for “managers”, people charged with assigning and directing the work of others. Managers are in the business of solving problems; people problems!

Some of the most productive organizations are those where management succeeded in getting the individual workers involved with the running of the company. Sure, management is still in control, but they have stimulated employee interests by encouraging their participation and feedback. Management still has some top-down responsibilities, including:

1. Delegate – prioritize and assign tasks to qualified employees.

2. Control work environment – minimize staff interferences and provide a suitable workplace to operate with the proper tools to perform the work.

3. Review progress – study employee reports and take corrective action where necessary.

Individual employees have bottom-up responsibilities to management:

1. Participate in the planning process – review work specifications and give feedback; estimate amount of time to perform an assignment, assist in the calculation of work schedules with management.

2. Perform work within time and costs constraints.

3. Report activities to management – including the use of time, interferences, and possible delays.

In this bottom-up approach, employees are treated as professionals and are expected to act as such in return. This results in far less supervision as found in micromanagement. Employees are delegated responsibility, supervise their own activities, and report to management on progress. This approach will work in any business, be it a corporation or non-profit volunteer organization. There is only one catch to this approach: some people resist assuming responsibility for their actions and prefer to have someone else tell them what to do; thereby when something goes awry, they can blame the other person for the snafu. This type of person is more suited for a dictator type of organization where they can continue to grouse about management, yet do nothing to help correct the problem. Aside from this, the benefits of the bottom-up approach far outweigh the negatives. It is simple and it works.

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.”
– Ronald Reagan (1986)

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Management, Project Management | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 10, 2009

I was talking to a consultant in the Philadelphia area recently who was lamenting about the state of Project Management in this country. He had been employed for over thirty years as a Project Manager in plant construction, was certified in his craft, yet found the state of project management to be quite primitive, which is surprising when you consider all of the tools available for managing projects these days. This led to a dialog as to why the state of project management had deteriorated. I contended this was nothing new and should not come as a surprise. I then cited four reasons for the problem:

First, as my friend suggested, people tend to take a tool oriented approach to project management as opposed to thinking the problem through themselves. Here is another area where we have created a dependency on technology and come down with a bad case of the stupids when it fails us. The scope of project management is large and consists of a variety of concepts and techniques, most of which are not complicated and can be easily taught, but are not. Consequently, college students graduate knowing how to use certain tools, but lack insight into basic concepts which hinders their ability to solve problems and work with others.

Second, executive management does not have an appreciation of project management and does not understand its scope, nor the integration of concepts. For example, project planning is required prior to developing an estimate, which then fuels scheduling, all of which is a precursor for effective project reporting. Some executives naively believe project management is nothing more than producing a schedule or buying computer software to record worker time. Some even think project management is cheap and refuse to invest in proper training for their people or acquiring an integrated set of tools for them to use.

Third, project management is necessary when you need to control multiple people on multiple projects with complicated work breakdown structures. However, it falls flat in this age of short term thinking where there is a tendency to attack smaller bite-size project assignments in a “quick and dirty” manner (aka “agile”).

Last but not least, it must be remembered that project management is a people oriented function, not administrative, clerical or technical. In other words, Project management is a philosophy of management, not a specific tool or technique. It is getting people to complete project assignments on time, on schedule, within budget, and in a particular sequence. If the truth were known, there is nothing complicated about Project Management; it just requires discipline, organization, and accountability; three ugly words in today’s business vernacular.

At the end of the phone call, my friend thanked me for being a sounding board and said he felt better after talking with me. I replied I wasn’t surprised, after all, misery loves company.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

HERD MANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 4, 2009

Some time ago I commented on how people tend to behave in group settings (see “The Stupids”). This led to a series of e-mails I received from people asking me where they could find more information on what I called, “Herd Management.” Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot to be found, not unless you are talking about the management of cattle, horses or swine. Then again, maybe that’s not a bad place to start as their objective is essentially the same as moving the human animal.

Herd Management is primarily aimed at moving a large volume of living organisms from Point-A to Point-B, which implies the development of a road map to get there. Like any management function, Herd Management requires considerable planning and tightly controlled execution to achieve the desired result. Beyond this, there are three other variables vital to success: Knowing your subjects, how to motivate them, and controlling their environment.

Before you can manage them, you must first know them, thoroughly. This is needed so you can know what they are thinking, what their interests are, what they are capable or incapable of doing, thereby allowing you to manipulate them accordingly. Even in the management of livestock, ranchers closely monitor the attributes of their animals. For our purposes, this suggests the development of a data base whereby each person is uniquely identified and defined in terms of their characteristics; e.g., address, contact data, age, height, weight, education, job function, salary, likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses, whatever is pertinent to motivate and manipulate them. Ideally, a cross-reference feature is available to track the person’s relationship to other people, such as friends and family, thus permitting the identification of those who may influence the person’s actions and decisions either positively or negatively. A tracking mechanism is also required, to monitor their proper and improper movements, and to steer them in the right direction. Such intelligence is essential to Herd Management.

The one element unique to the human animal is their brain and, as such, a feedback mechanism is required to closely monitor what the herd is thinking. The more management knows about what the human being is thinking, the better they can influence it. This is why opinion polls are so important. Beyond this, you will find moles among the herd who are charged with quietly listening, taking notes, and reporting back to management what the herd is thinking. Without this feedback mechanism, Herd Management will inevitably make erroneous decisions in terms of how to manipulate the herd, possibly even causing a stampede in the wrong direction.

The second variable involves motivation. A whip or cattle prod may be useful for animals, but you have to be a little more subtle in coercing humans to go in the direction you want them to. This involves controlling the information from which they form opinions and make actions and decisions. Three elements are involved: the actual content, the vehicle to convey it, and the spin of the information. This means controlling the media to communicate to the people. Suppression of information is hardly a new idea. Even if information is leaked that is damaging to your cause, it can be manipulated and spun in any direction to make it look better than it really is. When in trouble, a diversion is created to distract attention away from the subject at hand.

Essential to all of this is to make your position appear to be mainstream thinking (popular), thereby causing people to readily embrace it and defend its position over objections from dissidents and antagonists (who should be suppressed to maintain the harmony of the herd). People want to believe what they are doing is good and that their best interests are being maintained. To this end, rumors, innuendoes, and inaccuracies (lies) are acceptable, and even preferable for those who spurn the truth.

When communicating with large numbers of people, the message should be simple and easy to understand. This is why catch phrases are quickly adopted in order to communicate whole ideas through a few simple words, thereby achieving a Pavlov’s Dog effect.

The third and final variable is controlling the environment which is primarily concerned with eliminating potential obstacles and interferences that may cause delays or a shift in plan. Keep in mind, the mentality of the members of the herd is on autopilot thereby allowing them to focus on the subject at hand, such as your message. Unexpected distractions, such as a bolt of lightning, an explosion or a heckler, upsets the herd causing them to become less manageable. By carefully managing the environment, you make it easier to control the herd. To this end, Herd Management studies people’s wants/needs, habits, diet, affect of climate, and monitors behavior (such as pushing, shoving, and fighting).

Finally, you need sufficient force to control the herd. In the livestock world, we used to talk about cowboys and wranglers. Now we talk about guides and supervisors who keep a close eye on the herd, spot problems, and takes corrective action at a moment’s notice. To do so requires effective communications and a resourceful staff who can adapt to different situations.

No, you won’t find Herd Management mentioned in the business schools on college campuses. It might sound like “Big Brother” watching, but you’ll find it in the play book of everyone dealing with crowds, be it a sporting event, an amusement park, a political convention, or the public in general. It may not seem politically correct to talk about it, but make no mistake, Herd Management is very much a reality.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

MANAGEMENT FADS

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 1, 2009

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

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

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

  • Interpersonal communications/relations skills – speaking, writing, persuasion, negotiating, interviewing, diplomacy, etc.
  • Instituting discipline and organization, (as opposed to free-spirited mavericks that are stubbornly independent).
  • If you want teamwork, you should first learn about coaching and leadership.
  • How to control the corporate culture, including decorum, protocol, ethics, as well as the effect of physical surroundings. This includes professional courtesy extended to workers, customers, vendors, and prospective clients.
  • Establishing and managing priorities and deadlines. This includes how to become less reactive and more proactive in planning processes.
  • Promoting pride in workmanship (craftsmanship); this includes properly equipping and training workers thereby creating a sense of belonging and ownership of the work product.
  • How to fairly and equitably evaluate, compensate and discipline worker performance.
  • How to empower people by delegating responsibility, motivating them, and holding them accountable for their actions. In other words, teach the workers to assume more responsibility and supervise themselves.
It is these skills that move mountains, not the latest wrinkle from Microsoft, cell phones, or some other harebrained scheme. Management is really not that complicated, it’s actually quite simple and goes back to the moral values we were all taught as kids, but, unfortunately, the human being for some reason tries to make things more complicated than they need to be. Basic management may lack flash and sizzle, it may not be couched in esoteric concepts and terminology, but you know what? It works.

No Virginia, there is no panacea.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s eBook (PDF), “The Bryce is Right! Empowering Managers in today’s Corporate Culture” (free DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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