Monday, May 22, 2006

May 22, 2006


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 nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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)

For more information on our philosophies of Project Management, please see the "Introduction" section of "PRIDE" Project Management at:

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is...
"If we lived in a perfect world, there would not be a need for managers."


We're pleased to announce the release of a new book on our "PRIDE" Methodologies for IRM. Actually, we've created two versions of the same book, an eBook version (in PDF format), and an Audio Book (in MP3 format). Both compliment the Internet version available through our corporate web site. The eBook version is 363 pages in length and includes full tutorials on Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, and Project Management, complete with examples and a quick navigation to guide you through the book. The Audio Book is an abridged version which includes over nine hours of audio. The eBook version is priced at $49 plus tax, the Audio Book is priced at $54 plus tax, and a discounted packaged price for both is $93 plus tax. The book is excellent for both corporate developers as well as at the university level where it complements a college curriculum. Check it out at:


The National And State CIO Association will be holding their 2006 Midyear Conference at The Capital Hilton, in Washington, DC on May 31st-June 2nd. For information, contact NASCIO headquarters in Lexington, KY at: 859/514-9153

MIT's Center for Information Systems Research will hold its annual conference from June 12-16, 2006 on the MIT campus. For information, contact MIT at 617/253-2348

The Society for Information Management will be holding their SIMposium 2006 on September 17-20 at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, Texas. For information, contact SIM headquarters in Chicago at 312/527-6734

If you have got an upcoming IRM related event you want mentioned, please e-mail the date, time and location of the event to


Friends, I don't know if you've seen it yet, but we've added a Frapper map to the "Management Visions" web site. Frapper is a free mapping service offered by the folks at Rising Concepts, LLC, and allows you to plot yourself on a worldwide map. This is a great way to keep track of our listeners and I encourage you to try it out through our web page or by clicking HERE.


Do you remember when air travel was fun? I do. I used to love to travel. The food was reasonably good, you could have a good drink and smoke, and there was a general festive spirit on board. I also remember people would dress up when going on an airplane. Men would wear suit and ties, and women and children would wear their Sunday-best. It was quite common for whole families to meet you at the airport too which made you feel special. Sadly, air travel is no longer like this anymore. Airports are more like armed camps where prisoners are strip-searched and transferred from one cell block to another. We can thank the terrorists for this. But I guess what bothers me is that the mystique of air travel has disappeared. It is no longer a novelty; instead it has become a callous drudgery which kind of reminds me of how we used to feel about traveling by bus, which is probably more fun today than to travel by air.

Our expectations are also a lot lower today:

  • Nobody expects to depart and arrive on time.

  • We have no faith that our luggage will arrive intact; instead we prefer to use carryon luggage.

  • We no longer expect a decent meal, but rather bring our own brown-bag on board.

  • We no longer expect cleanliness on board and worry about head lice.

  • And we no longer expect to talk with a company spokesman, but rather an automated kiosk.

Instead of relishing air travel, we now tolerate it and hope we survive. Its actually dehumanizing. Travelers dress grungy and no longer socialize like they did in the old days. Everyone is now plugged into either an iPod, a cell phone, MP3 player, laptop, or CD/DVD player. We're plugged in, tuned in and turned off.

This is all very sad as this used to be a great institution. We all used to love to travel, now we all dread it. But I guess this is the price of progress.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.


I received an e-mail from a Hugh Connell in Montana who wrote me regarding last week's essay of "Understanding the Vicious Circle of Complexity."
Hugh writes:

"Again, I enjoyed your commentary on complexity. It didn't occur to me the number of lines of communications within a development staff."

Thanks Hugh for your note,

Yes, its really interesting how the number of lines of communications go up as we have more people participate in a development project. Its bad enough that our systems are becoming more complicated, but when you add the number of lines of communications, you can end up with a real mess on your hands. Hence the need for a control mechanism such as an IRM Repository to manage the number of information resources in a system, and a standardized approach for governing the development process. This is only possible if we treat such efforts as a science as opposed to an art-form.

Again, Thanks for your e-mail. Keep those cards and letters coming.

Folks, don't forget to check out our BRYCE'S CRASH COURSE IN MANAGEMENT which is a free on-line multimedia presentation offering pragmatic advice on how to discharge the duties of a manager, whether it be for a commercial or non-profit enterprise. Frankly, for someone aspiring to be a manager or for a new manager, it will be the best 45 minutes you can invest in yourself. Check it out on the cover of our corporate web page at:

For a complete listing of my essays, see the "PRIDE" Special Subject Bulletins section of our corporate web site.

MBA is an international management consulting firm specializing in Information Resource Management. We offer training, consulting, and writing services in the areas of Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, Project Management, Methodologies and Repositories. For information, call us at 727/786-4567.

Our corporate web page is at:

Management Visions is a presentation of M. Bryce & Associates, a division of M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. The program is produced on a weekly basis and updated on Sundays. It is available in versions for RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, and MP3 suitable for Podcasting. See our web site for details. You'll find our broadcast listed in several Podcast and Internet Search engines, as well as Apples' iTunes.

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Copyright © 2006 by M&JB Investment Company of Palm Harbor, Florida, USA. All rights reserved. "PRIDE" is the registered trademark of M&JB Investment Company.

This is Tim Bryce reporting.

Since 1971: "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."



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