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Posted by Tim Bryce on April 9, 2019


– Why we are inclined to accept disaster.

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

Planning is not natural to most Americans. We resist it because it requires some foresight, analysis, and change. In other words, work. Our history is littered with stories of snafus resulting from poor planning, both large and small; Pearl Harbor, 911, and Hurricane Katrina are legendary. In the case of Pearl Harbor, the Army’s Colonel Billy Mitchell studied the island’s defenses and wrote a report detailing how the island would be attacked with incredible accuracy. The report was written a full 17 years prior to December 7th, 1941. Instead of heeding his advice, the Army would eventually lose patience with Mitchell and run him out of the military.

In terms of Hurricane Katrina, civil engineers were acutely aware the weaknesses of the levee system protecting New Orleans was inadequate to withstand a Category 5 storm, as well as Category 4. Their warnings though, unfortunately, went unheeded.

Overseas, particularly in Asia, planning is more common. For example, it was incredibly important in the re-development of Japan following World War II. In business, Japanese companies spend much more time planning than Americans as they like to “look before they leap.” Americans, on the other hand tend to take the plunge before they know what they are jumping into. Even worse, they often take the wrong course of action when faced with disaster. Allow me to explain…

I know a Florida fraternal organization who, like a lot of nonprofits, is losing members. However, this is not new as they have been losing on the average of +1,500 members per year for the last 15 years. Everyone in the organization is cognizant of it, but the leadership has done nothing to stem the problem, hoping it is a temporary condition and will simply go away. Whereas there were in excess of 58K members in 2003, by 2017 there was approximately 35K. It was only this year that the leadership decided to take action by leveraging a hefty per capita tax on each member, which will inevitably drive more members away. Whereas they should have been studying the problem all along, they waited until the last minute to make a decision which will ultimately have an adverse effect on membership.

Similarly, New York State has one of the highest tax rates in the country. So much so, it is causing New Yorkers to flee the state as economic refugees seeking shelter in more tax-friendly states, such as Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. To compensate for their departure, the state recently added new taxes in New York City; a “congestion tax” to ride on city streets, and a “mansion tax” on expensive estates. This too will likely cause more New Yorkers to flee the state. Instead of cutting expenses and lowering taxes to make the state more inviting to live in, they continue to tax and spend madly. As an aside, according to a recent Mercatus Center study, New York State is ranked #41 of the fifty states in terms of fiscal health (Florida is #4, North Carolina is #9, Georgia is #18, and South Carolina is #20).

As in the Florida fraternal example, New York State waited too late until conditions worsened, failed to change their ways, and opted to burden the remaining people instead. Such “knee-jerk” reactions is typical of incompetent leadership.

Then we have the crisis of illegal immigrants at our southern border, a problem threatening our country’s sovereignty. While some claim the problem is “manufactured,” reports from the Department of Homeland Security are undeniable. The American people have known this to be a problem well before the 2016 elections. Remarkably, the Congress fails to address the problem, even to this day. Regardless of the party in power, if this is a legitimate problem, where is the House and Senate in terms of changing our laws? The fact they insist of ignoring the problem goes beyond simple dereliction of duty; it is pure negligence, if not treasonous.

These three incidents are typical of American planning, as they prefer waiting for disaster to strike before taking action. This, of course, is madness. The reason for it should be rather obvious, we feel comfortable operating in an auto-pilot mode and resist making hard decisions that might offend someone. Yet in the end, reactionary behavior ultimately hurts everyone.

Let me give you one last example, knowing our Fraternal Lodge was losing membership and money, and realizing the costs to maintain our building were escalating, I prepared a Feasibility Study which came to the conclusion the Lodge should sell the building and move in with a neighboring Lodge. Had we done so, we would have probably sold the building for $750K. Unfortunately, the members voted to stay and hoped the problem would alleviate itself. It did not. Consequently, 13 years later, the Lodge was finally forced to sell the building for $500K, a substantially lower number. In other words, they avoided the inevitable which ultimately cost them. Think about it, it is essentially no different than the Billy Mitchell story which cost the military dearly.

Planning requires foresight, keeping a pulse on changing conditions, the ability to adapt to change, and above all else, effective leadership. If the leaders are operating on auto-pilot, the group should not be surprised by the consequences when havoc strikes.

For more information on Reactive Management, click HERE.

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

For Tim’s columns, see:

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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.


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Posted by Tim Bryce on March 17, 2014


– Why it is easier to be more reactive than proactive.


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

Americans tend to be more reactive as opposed to proactive in their approach to life. I suspect the reason can be traced back to our Anglo heritage which historically has been hesitant to take decisive action. Consider how slow the British were to suppress the uprisings of its colonies, usually making the wrong decisions in the end. Our history is littered with instances affirming our reactive behavior; e.g., Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Bulge, the Stock Market crash of 1929, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Crash of 2008. These disasters could have been avoided if we had heeded warnings and planned accordingly. For example, the destruction of Katrina could have been averted had local politicians heeded the advice of the Corps of Engineers. Pearl Harbor could have been avoided if the military had listened to General Billy Mitchell a whopping 17 years earlier.

There are many reasons for reactive management: laziness, arrogance, apathy, timidity, unwillingness to offend anyone, or plain and simply, it is easier than being proactive. Making difficult decisions is hard work which is why most people procrastinate. Like it or not though, “Not to decide is to decide.” If we do not make the decision ourselves, a decision will be made for us, and probably not to our liking. We see this in such things as making funeral arrangements, divorce, handling troubled children, putting parents in an assisted living facility, making a major financial transaction, evaluating employees, career changes, and terminating employees. People can be slow to react in making such decisions and, by doing so, they inevitably fester and get worse.

I have a friend who has some aging parents entering the twilight of their years. The husband has developed some physical problems restricting his mobility. The wife is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and is forgetful. They have been married for 60 years but are now finding it difficult to care for each other. Their siblings have encouraged them to sell their house and move into an assisted living facility near one of the children. At first they reluctantly agreed and signed a contract with a realtor, but after reflecting on it, the mother put a halt to it by steadfastly refusing to move. Although the husband’s driving days are coming to an end, the wife believes she can still drive which scares the family as she might take the car for a spin and either get lost or hit someone. As a precaution, the family keeps the car keys hidden.

My friend has tried to reason with them that now is the time to sell the house before one of them suffers a fall, is hospitalized, thereby leaving the other alone. Regardless of his arguments, they refuse to budge. Again, here we see a prime example of reactive management at work. The mother feels particularly comfortable in her home and does not want to leave it. She knows her kitchen, her neighborhood, and her church. However, she is not truly aware of her mental condition and how isolated she really is. Should something happen to the father, which is likely, she would be trapped in the house. In her case, she does not want to deal with reality and accept the fact there is a problem. The father does not want to fight his wife.

We do not like to make a difficult decision. Some managers balk at performing an employee evaluation or terminating employment as they do not want to hurt another person’s feelings. By not addressing such actions, the manager is doing a disservice to both his company and the employee who may very well be unaware a problem exists and, as such, does not take corrective action to improve himself.

Back in Chicago, my father had to terminate an employee. Prior to this, he gave the employee every opportunity to make adjustments and improve himself. He even went so far as to reassign him to other jobs within the company, hoping he would excel in another position. Unfortunately, nothing worked. Finally, he had to let him go. About a year later, my father happened to meet the man downtown. My father was understandably concerned his former employee held a grudge. Remarkably, he didn’t. Instead, he thanked my father for terminating him which forced him to find the correct career path. By taking a proactive approach, my father did what was best for the company and, ultimately, the employee.

Being proactive is much more difficult than being reactive. It requires planning, a conviction of beliefs, and the ability to sell the course of action appropriately. In other words, it requires a mastery of interpersonal relations/communications. These are much needed skills which are typically learned through life experiences. Unfortunately, this is something we cannot teach in business schools.

For my earlier paper, see “Proactive versus Reactive Management.”

For more on Billy Mitchell, see “Pearl Harbor Day.”

Also see, “Firing Employees isn’t for Sissies.”

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

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE AGE OF DARKNESS – Are we still seeking truth and knowledge, or are we pacified by the status quo?

LAST TIME:  PARANOID PARENTING  – Who’s in charge? The parent or the child?

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