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Friday, August 18, 2017

LIFETIME WARRANTIES

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.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

WHAT THE ATTACKS ON OUR MONUMENTS TRULY MEANS

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.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

THE DRIVING TOP TEN

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
16-226:00am - 7:30am11:30am - 12:00pm3:00pm - 4:30pm
23-657:30am - 9:00am12:00pm - 1:00pm5:30pm - 7:00pm
66-909:00am - 11:30am1:00pm - 3:00pm4:30pm - 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.

Monday, August 14, 2017

EMPTY NESTS

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.

Friday, August 11, 2017

ARE I.T. WORKERS BLUE COLLAR?

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.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

WHAT PRICE QUALITY?

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.

Monday, August 7, 2017

BEWARE OF BAITING

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.

Friday, August 4, 2017

YES MEN

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.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

HOW TO WRITE NEWS LIKE THE BIG BOYS

BRYCE ON POLITICS


- It's really quite easy; just fill-in the blanks.

Day after day, President Trump is under attack by the Mainstream Media with alleged leaked information from anonymous sources. Whether the sources are legitimate or not appears to be inconsequential. They have become so common, the public has become skeptical and the credibility of the press has deteriorated. It is no small wonder, people today overwhelmingly do not trust the press and prefer getting news from other sources, particularly social media.

In studying such articles in the press, I have discovered there is a pattern in terms of how they are written. So, as a public service, I am providing a template for how to write such a column. I've developed this as one of those crazy fill-in-the-blanks stories we remember from our childhood. To use it, either answer the questions as they are introduced or have someone solicit the multiple choice answers from you before you begin. This is intended to be a fun way to demonstrate an important point, the American public is being fed pablum under the guise of valid news.

DATELINE - Enter date and location:
(select)
- The White House, Washington, DC
- Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
- Albany, NY
- Chicago, IL
- Sacramento, Mars

In a stunning change of events in the nation's capitol, President Donald Trump has been accused of the heinous crime of
(select)
- Developing legislation revoking Sanctuary Cities.
- Disorderly conduct with Congressional Democrats.
- Failing to recognize CNN anchor Jim Acosta.
- Firing a government employee for leaking information to the press.
- Pulling the pigtail of a girl in 5th grade.
- Referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as "Oddjob."
- Slandering "resistance" Libtards.

The accusation, as reported in The Times and The Post, came from anonymous sources close to
(select)
- The President.
- The Vice President.
- Congress.
- The Pentagon.
- Mrs. Ferguson's Third Grade Class.

Even though there is no physical evidence to support their contention, the media stands by the statements made by their sources, who like most other people interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations.

The incident has already been dubbed by the Mainstream Media as
(select)
- Fruitgate.
- Lynchgate.
- Mediagate.
- Putzgate.
- Slimegate.
- Snowflakegate.
- Tailgate.

When asked about the incident, the President responded
(select)
- "I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer; next?"
- "It's just another example of more Fake News; next?"
- "It's time to drain the Mainstream Media cesspool; next?"
- "Who is making this crap up for you, the ACLU? Next?"
- "You're kidding right? Where's the beef? Next?"

By failing to answer the question properly, news media insiders took this as an admission of guilt by the president.

Learning of the news, Democrats were incensed. "This is clearly a violation of Constitutional Law. I am appalled with the conduct of the president. Here is another example of why he is unfit to lead the country. This is grounds for impeachment and certainly would not happen under our watch," said
(select)
- Cong. Nancy "We have to pass it to see what is in it" Pelosi (CA).
- Sen. Chuck "The Schill" Schumer (NY).
- Fmr. Pres. Barack Obama.
- Fmr. Pres. Bill Clinton.
- Fmr. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton.
- Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown.
- NYC Mayor Bill "Boom Boom" de Blasio.
- Filmmaker Michael Moore.
- The Wicked Witch of the West (aka "Pocahontas").

As a result of the unsubstantiated accusation, the Democrats are demanding
(select)
- an independent counsel costing millions of dollars.
- a Congressional Investigation costing millions of dollars.
- a session in "The People's Court" with Judge Marilyn.
- a Russian Tribunal headed by Vladimir Putin (no charge).
- the president be sent to the principal's office.

All of which will produce nothing.

Progressive insiders fear Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts will intervene, drop the charges, and order corporal punishment for the Mainstream Media accuser. A good paddling, caning, or lashing with a cat o' nine tails is suggested.

EPILOGUE

"What I find to be amazing is how narratives are set and a lot of it is not true. ... The most breathtaking thing for me has been the difference between what the truth is and what often gets reported. ... (Fake news) has become an epidemic."
- former White House Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus, July 28, 2017

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.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

THE PERILS OF NEGATIVITY

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

- Learn to avoid the whiners.

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

Like many of you, I belong to several civic and industrial nonprofit organizations. I always find it amusing to see the elders of such organizations criticize the current slate of officers. Inevitably, you hear, "That's not how we did things in my day." They then go on to berate the officers on their performance. Well, sometimes they're right, but most of the time they are wrong. Dead wrong. If left unchecked, their negativity can consume an organization like a plague of locusts, to the point where the officers get frustrated and ultimately do nothing.

I can't remember ever attending a nonprofit group where everybody was happy with everything and everybody. In fact, I think its a myth. If such an organization exists, I sure would like to see it. These nonprofit organizations are typically run by well meaning people with some time on their hands; and let us not forget it is a VOLUNTEER type of organization. Rarely, if ever, are the officers paid for their services. True, people will make mistakes and need guidance, but not at the price of having their name besmirched. As Winston Churchill wisely observed, "Any idiot can see what is wrong with something, but can you see what's right?"

At a recent meeting of a nonprofit group I belong to, I heard one of the elder's grouse, "Well, this is a rotten year and next year will be worse." I looked at him and said, "No, it has been a good year and next year will be better." I reminded him that the group had plenty of money in the bank and membership was on the rise. This caught him off guard and he recognized that I had the right attitude; that the glass was half-full, not half-empty.

No, the officers of such groups will not always be perfect, but then again, Who is? Its up to the group overall to pull things together, not just one or two officers.

The problem with negativity is that it can become infectious, and in the process, quite damaging. Fortunately, so can optimism, and people tend to gravitate to the positive as opposed to the negative.

For those who insist on whining about everything, I say, "Get over it." I learned a long time ago in business not to complain unless I was prepared to suggest an alternative. However, to bitch simply for the sake of bitching is counterproductive and disrupts the harmony of such groups. If I have any suggestion in this regard, I would ask the members of such groups to turn something negative into something positive.

First published: June 5, 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:  YES MEN - In reality, such people contribute nothing worthwhile.

LAST TIME:  THE BENEFITS OF NETWORKING  - Instead of watching TV, attend a meeting.

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.

Monday, July 31, 2017

THE BENEFITS OF NETWORKING

BRYCE ON SOCIALIZATION

- Instead of watching TV, attend a meeting.

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

I've been bumping into a lot of younger people lately; young men in their early to mid-20's who have been asking me for advice on a variety of issues as they begin their careers. Basically, I tell them to start a life insurance policy, write a will, how to dress, and basic social amenities such as how to greet someone and tell a joke. More importantly I stress upon them the need to network with their contemporaries.

When I was entering the work force back in the 1970's I found networking to be invaluable in my professional growth. I was particularly active in trade related organizations such as the local chapters of the Association for Systems Management, the Data Processing Management Association, and the Association for Computing Machinery. I also founded a local OS/2 Users Group and Java Users Group. I have also participated in other civic and fraternal organizations. All of these groups were invaluable in terms of education and the development of a network of contacts with whom I have relied on time and again.

I've noticed the younger people are less inclined to join any such organization these days. I'm not sure why. Perhaps they don't think its cool. Perhaps there is no professional curiosity. Or perhaps they just don't know any better. Frankly, I think its the latter. As a result, these organizations are in decline. For example, ASM is now extinct; and DPMA changed its name and focus to the Association of IT Professionals; regardless their numbers are still diminishing. Instead of resisting participation in such organizations, I encourage young people to join them.

Networking is a great way to learn about your field of interest and to develop local contacts who might be helpful to you in your walk through life, and you might be able to help them in return. Many people go into such organizations with the wrong intentions, such as they are going to sell the membership something. This is most definitely not the point; its about your professional growth. Its about learning; its about refining your social skills, and its about gaining visibility; all of which is important for developing a professional reputation. Once this is established, people will recognize you as the "go to" guy in your area of specialty, then, Yes, you may vary well get some business, but don't go into an organization thinking you're going to conquer the world, think of it as an investment in your personal development.

One of the lessons I learned during my college career was that "We enjoy life through the help and society of others." I have found this to be particularly true in my professional development.

So, instead of staying home and watching that trash on TV every night, how about getting off your butt and attend a couple of meetings? Start with a trade group from your industry; then there's the chamber of commerce and Jaycees; then there's volunteer organizations such as the Rotary, Kiwanis and the Lions; then there's fraternal organizations such as the Masons and the Shrine. The list is actually endless; but seek out those organizations that will help you the most in your professional development. You might learn a thing or two in the process, and others might just learn a thing or two about you.

First published: May 8, 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:  THE PERILS OF NEGATIVITY - Learn to avoid the whiners.

LAST TIME:  THE DEATH OF COMMON COURTESY - A little sincerity can go a long way.

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.

Friday, July 28, 2017

THE DEATH OF COMMON COURTESY

BRYCE ON LIFE

- A little sincerity can go a long way.

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

The other day we had a new FedEx driver make a delivery at our office in Palm Harbor. Since I happened to be by the front door, I opened it and watched him approach. He wore a scowl on his face as if he had been having a bad day. I opened the door, greeted him warmly, shook his hand and asked how his day was going. As I signed for the delivery, the driver looked at me strangely. I asked him if there was a problem. He said, No, it was just that I was the first person that day to be friendly to him and actually ask how he was doing. He said in most companies he visits he's pretty much taken for granted and treated rudely.

I asked if he thought this was something unique to him as an individual. He said, No, the other drivers often speak of the callousness of their clientele. Come to think of it, I have seen evidence of this elsewhere. For example, when I go to a restaurant, the waiters and waitresses are often taken aback when I kid with them and ask them about their day. Often they look at me like I might have some ulterior motive. But once they get past this, they warm up to me and we have a good working relationship.

This made me stop and think about today's corporate work place. Have we become so jaded and insensitive as to disregard the interpersonal relationships of our employees, our customers, and our vendors? Have we become so self-centered and aloof that we no longer care how we treat other people?

You know, I learned a long time ago that you can catch a heckova lot more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. A little courtesy and hospitality can go a long way with people. For example, I learned the virtues of a firm handshake some time ago. I don't just give them some wishy-washy handshake and look through the person. I look them squarely in the eyes, shake their hand and tell them how glad I am to see them. Something as simple as a sincere handshake can work miracles.

We must remember that we don't conduct our business with inanimate objects, but rather with human beings. Sharpening our people skills is incredibly important to accomplish anything worthwhile in life. Simple common courtesy is a big part of this. Try it. Next time that FedEx or UPS driver comes to your door or a waitress to your table, look up at them, greet them with a smile and ask them how they're doing; heck, even often them a handshake. You will be pleasantly surprised with the service you'll get in return. I'll tell you this; we have no problems with shipments or deliveries at our office. How about yours?

First published: September 12, 2005

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:  THE BENEFITS OF NETWORKING - Instead of watching TV, attend a meeting.

LAST TIME:  PARENTING MANAGEMENT - Like it or not, businesses must teach the young how to act.

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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

PARENTING MANAGEMENT

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

- Like it or not, businesses must teach the young how to act.

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

"Most children are raised by amateurs, not professionals."
- Bryce's Law
Want to know what to expect of the work force in the years ahead? Look no farther than our schools or homes. Let me preface my remarks by saying that in addition to all of my other responsibilities, I was very active in my local Little League for a number of years where I served as coach, umpire, and on the local board of directors. Further, I have been very active locally in offering Masonic scholarships to High School students. In addition, my wife has been active in the local school system for the last ten years at the elementary, middle, and high school levels (this also included PTA and SAC). Although we probably won't win an award as the world's best parents, we made a point of becoming an important and influential part of our children's lives. We didn't take any special courses in parenting, we just got involved. But we are the exceptions as opposed to the rule.

Prior to World War II, the country was immersed in an economic depression which put a strain on families and disrupted our society. Everyone in a family was expected to pitch in and do their part in order to survive, this included going to school and their place of worship. Some families suffered severe hardships during this period causing children to drop out of school and go to work. They didn't drop out as some form of rebellion or protest, but to simply earn money to help support the family. Consequently, many earned nothing higher than a Junior High diploma which was prized by many families. The point is, there was a sense of family back then and the people's hunger built character. They understood the value of a dollar, worked hard and squandered nothing. It was this generation that got us through the war and propelled the country towards economic success in the latter part of the 20th century.

In the 1950's and 1960's, as the country was experiencing an economic boom, a parent normally stayed at home to manage the family, usually the wife. If a child had a problem, a parent was always home to tend to their needs. Children no longer had to drop out of school to support the family and our High Schools and Colleges swelled with students. The "baby boomers" were considered well adjusted and readily adapted to the work force. This generation saw us through the space race and the technology revolution which changed the face of corporate America.

But in the last three decades, we began to lose faith in our economy and our standard of living. As a result, both parents began to work inordinate hours and a generation gap began to emerge. Exhausted by their work, the parents would return home where the last thing they wanted to hear was their child's problems. Consequently, children became social outcasts in their own homes and often had to fend for themselves; they simply couldn't relate with their parents. Sure, the parents would sign their kids up for Summer Camp, Little League and Soccer, but this was viewed more as baby-sitting services as opposed to taking a true interest in the child's development. They would also give their kids television sets and video games to occupy their time.

Today, school teachers have become surrogate parents by default, something they weren't trained for, nor inclined to accept. Talk to a teacher and you will hear stories of lack of respect for authority, poor manners, and dysfunctional social intercourse. Children today no longer learn their values from their parents but rather from Hollywood. As young adults entering the work force, their work ethic, values, and behavior are noticeably different than the prior generation. There is no longer a sense of quality, service, or craftsmanship; just put in your time and collect a paycheck. This is all having an adverse effect on how we conduct business and the corporate culture.

Now, let me give you a the scary figure: probably 20%, or less, of today's graduating High School seniors are socially well adjusted.

Knowing this, what should you do as a manager?

In the past, if you were a new employee, it was assumed you knew how to manage your personal life and you were expected to adapt to the corporate culture. This is no longer true and presents a problem for managers. Younger employees today have problems managing money, dressing appropriately, and interpersonal relations and communications, not to mention alcohol, drugs, and sex. They are raw and rough. But are they salvageable? They better be, for your company's sake, as they represent tomorrow's work force.

Perhaps we can take a lesson from the military services here. The military is well aware they are not getting the "cream of the crop" when they take on new recruits. Many are social misfits coming from broken homes. As such, the military's initial role is to break the individual of bad habits and impose a new system of discipline and work ethic. Individualism is replaced by teamwork and, in the process, a sense of belonging and family is imposed. This is either readily accepted by the new recruit or they are drummed out of the service. Discipline, organization, teamwork, and a strong work ethic can have a dramatic affect on a drifting soul. By doing so, it can bring order to lives and a sense of purpose, something that perhaps was neglected at home.

Today's Drill Instructors and junior officers also find themselves as surrogate parents and are now instructed in counseling young soldiers. The boot camps of today are a lot different than what the country experienced during World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam. Yet, we are producing a fine class of soldiers which makes our country proud. In other words, they must be doing something right.

If we have learned anything from the military in this regard, it is that the times have changed and our employees today have different needs requiring a new type of manager who can adequately tend to them. And like today's Drill Instructors and school teachers, managers are finding themselves in the role of surrogate parents, like it or not. Managers bristle at this notion. After all, they want to get on with their business and do not want to be regarded as a baby-sitter. But the fact remains, home parenting skills are at an all-time low and to overcome this problem, someone has to assume the duty to compensate for this inadequacy. Again, the military readily understands this and has adapted accordingly. But can business?

Understand this, corporate America's "recruits" come predominantly from the colleges and universities whose purpose is not to teach social skills, but rather, to teach people how to learn. A college diploma most definitely does not mean the graduate is socially well-adjusted, but that he/she has learned to study and accept new ideas. If anything, the student's extracurricular activities tell more about a person's personality than the degree itself. For example, participation in team sports, club activities, or Greek life speaks volumes about a person's personality and social skills.

In the past, new corporate recruits underwent special training programs to learn how the company conducts business. Sales people in particular had to undergo rigorous training to learn how to present products and care for the customers. Workmen underwent training to learn how to build quality products. However, such programs have been slashed in recent times as a means for cutting costs (and will be the subject of a future paper).

There was also a period where mentors were assigned to new employees to chaperone them on their journey through the corporate world. Mentors were basically a "Big Brother/Sister" program where senior employees would offer sage advice to neophytes on adapting to the corporate world. But like the training programs, mentoring is also being phased out.

Although mentoring and training programs were intended to develop the employee's skills and effectiveness from a corporate perspective, neither dwelled on the personal problems of the employee.

Now that new employees are left to fend for themselves, a generation gap is emerging in business. Managers from just about every job segment are frustrated with new employees, and, likewise, new employees are frustrated with management. Whereas managers lament how little is accomplished by new employees, new employees complain how much time they are putting in at work. This highlights a significant difference between the generations: whereas the new employees are watching the clock, the managers are watching what is produced. The two are not synonymous, but nobody has taught the young employees this yet. To the "newbies," their time is what is important, regardless if they produce anything worthwhile or not; to the manager, it is just the opposite. Also, young people believe calling in sick is an acceptable form of behavior. Where did they learn all this? On their own. It is a sad state of affairs when the media has more influence over the values of our children than parents do. But when adults abdicate parenting to the media, it is not entirely surprising.

So, what is needed? More training? Mentoring? Nope. Just some parenting. The sooner corporations realize this, the sooner they can begin to develop mature and responsible employees. Again, this is why the military now teaches its Drill Instructors basic counseling techniques, so they can help new recruits find their way through life and become a good soldier. It is most definitely not "baby-sitting" but, rather, a recognition that parents have dropped the ball in their child's development and someone has to pick up the pieces in order for the newbie to realize their potential.

I do not claim to have a Ph.D. in parenting, but as I see it there are three primary duties a parent needs to inculcate:

* Role Model - first, a parent has to be a good role model with attributes their subordinates want to aspire to attain. Role models are respected for their authority and become a highly credible source of information and inspiration.

* Teacher - second, a parent has to be able to teach, not just academic lessons but those of life; e.g., morality, socialization, even finances (e.g., balancing a checkbook, life insurance, etc.). It is the teacher who establishes the rules and regulations of the classroom and, as such, is also the disciplinarian.

* Guidance Counselor - third, parenting includes guiding others on their path through life, explaining options and making recommendations.

Very important, a parent has to recognize they won't have all of the answers, but should know how to point someone in the right direction to get the answers they need.

Above all else, a parent has to care about the welfare of their offspring. I am not suggesting corporate parents love their children like biological parents, but they need to invest time in the person, believe in the person, and motivate them accordingly, whether through kindness or a good swift kick in the rear. The corporate parent has to also know when their work is complete and allow the offspring to move on to the next stage of their corporate life.

The military has the advantage of written contracts and boot camps to indoctrinate new recruits. Perhaps a corporate boot camp could be devised and teach the same lessons as found in the military, such as:

* Cause and effect, e.g., if you make a mistake, you know you will be penalized accordingly.

* The value of good workmanship and its impact on others.

* How to give and take an order.

* Discipline and code of conduct.

* Teamwork.

CONCLUSION

Companies today are at a loss coping with the newest generation of workers. What they don't realize is, it will get worse before it gets better. Since most biological parents are content with allowing others to teach their children the necessary values in life, teachers, the military and corporations are forced to pick up the slack, like it or not. The sooner we admit this, the sooner we can address how to remedy the situation. Whether this involves one-on-one counseling or a boot camp type of environment, something has to be done to teach our newest wave of workers the proper values to succeed in business and in life.

Let me leave you with a real-life story on parenting in the workplace. Some time ago I was visiting with a CIO in Columbus, Ohio who took me on a tour of his facility. Along the way, we happened upon a young programmer who was new to the company. Frankly, he looked a little wet behind the ears and had long hair over his collar. After the CIO introduced me to the young man, he instructed him to go get a haircut. The young programmer, shot back indignantly, "You can't say that to me!"

The CIO turned calmly but deliberately to the programmer, and said, "Yes I can. Watch," then pointing to his mouth, "Get a haircut. Now!"

The programmer backed down and, to his credit, dutifully got a haircut.

I had just witnessed a little "Parenting Management" in action. The CIO exercised his authority and had quickly instructed the newbie on one of the rules to be observed in the workplace. The programmer's biological parents hadn't instructed him properly, now it defaulted to his corporate parent.

"Parenting Management" - Just remember, you heard it here first.

First published: October 17, 2005

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

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