Wednesday, June 28, 2006

July 3, 2006


My new eBook, "THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! Empowering Managers for Today's Corporate Culture" was published on June 13th and started receiving excellent reviews shortly thereafter. Interest in the book was so great that I used it as the basis for developing a new one-day crash course in management (using the same title). But developing a training course is a lot different than writing a book. Inevitably, it led me into some other areas not mentioned in the book and, as such, this essay represents the "lost" chapter of the book.

In addition to supplemental tutorials on general management issues, I added sections describing Information Systems theory and how to deal with I.T. people. I have been teaching I.T. professionals how to deal with end-users for the last 30 years. Now, the shoe is on the other foot and you might find my comments and observations interesting in this context.



Throughout the book I discuss the need to manage "from the bottom-up." In other words, delegate responsibility, empower people, and hold them accountable for their actions. This is consistent with a Theory Y form of management. To implement this approach, I strongly recommend the use of Time Reporting such as that found in a Project Management system. To do so, I recommend a couple of things:

1. Tie your project Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to deliverables (the work products to be produced). By doing so, we can tell whether the product has, in fact, been produced or it hasn't. If the worker indicates there is no more work to be performed on a task, then he/she must have produced a reviewable result to substantiate the claim. This is consistent with the book's approach to focusing on results.

2. Differentiate the use of time. I am most definitely not a proponent of the "man hour" approach to reporting time. Instead, time should be reported in terms of time spent on "Direct" activities (executing assignments), and "Indirect" activities (interferences). From this, an "Effectiveness Rate" can be devised showing the balance of the two. Office workers are typically 70% effective, meaning in an eight hour day, 5.6 hours are devoted to "Direct" activities. This is not a measurement of efficiency, but simply an analysis of the use of time. For example, one person can have a high effectiveness rate, yet be your most inefficient worker (he simply knows how to manage his time). Conversely, a person with a low effectiveness rate could possibly be your most productive worker. As an aside, a manager typically has a low effectiveness rate as he/she is trying to solve problems and meeting with people. Also, it is not possible for a person to be 100% effective; we all take some form of break during the day.

All "Indirect" activities should be described by the worker, be it a meeting, a training session, breaks, personal time, etc. This accounting of time should be reviewed and approved by the manager. This review is extremely important as it represents a critical point in holding workers accountable for their actions.

The differences between "Direct" and "Indirect" are not insignificant: "Directs" are the responsibility of the individual to manage; "Indirects" are the responsibility of the manager to manage in terms of controlling the overall work environment.

One of the byproducts of "effectiveness rate" is to use it in the calculation of a project schedule.

Although time reporting can be easily performed using an automated Project Management system, there is nothing wrong with using a manual system and a simple Time Sheet (of which I provide samples in the course).


Important to the management of people is understanding their motivation and aligning your corporate incentives to satisfy them.

In terms of motivating factors, people are primarily interested in:

* Security/Reward - financial compensation that will comfortably support their lifestyle. This includes such things as salaries, bonuses, pension and profit sharing plans, health insurance and other corporate perks (e.g., vacations, use of a company car, etc.).

* Ego - a job that is challenging and meaningful to them; something that adds to their personal stature. Ideally, they are looking for a professional job that is compatible with their personal lives.

* Corporate Trust - people will treat a company loyally if they believe they can trust it, e.g., protects their interests.

* Confidence of Abilities - people will tackle those assignments they feel they believe they have an aptitude for; if they don't, they'll shy away from the work.

To satisfy worker motivations, a company basically has two types of incentives at their disposal:

1. Financial Compensation - e.g., salaries, bonuses, pension and profit sharing plans, health insurance, vacations, holidays, insurance, etc.

2. The Corporate Culture - representing a work environment conducive for enabling the abilities of the workers. Unlike financial incentives, this is often overlooked or underestimated. As mentioned, workers are looking for a company that conforms to their personal interests; a company that offers meaningful work without the hassle of cutthroat politics, that is clean, trustworthy, profitable, and seemingly on the cutting-edge of their industry. Ideally, workers want to work in an environment where they think of it as their second home.

To this end, employees want certain guarantees that companies are not prepared to offer. And frankly, it is not possible for them to do so. Without a certain element of risk, a company would become stagnant and less productive. Risk is necessary to motivate not only the company, but the individual as well. Interestingly, employees believe they assume all of the risk working in a company. In reality, it is the company that assumes all of the risk. If something goes wrong, it will more likely be the company that suffers, not the individual worker.


Parkinson correctly observed that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." I'm sure we have all seen managers creating mountains out of mole hills; e.g., creating unnecessary layers of bureaucracy to justify their existence. Instead, we recommend you avoid building empires and, instead, flatten them, thereby causing your organization to focus on the truly important problems and issues of the day.


Also as a follow-up to my "Individualism vs. Teamwork" chapter, I was asked why it seemed only a handful of people always carried the workload. This is not uncommon and is found in everyday life as well. It is commonly referred to as the "80/20 Rule" or "Pareto's Principle." Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who observed in 1897 that 80 percent of the land in England was owned by 20 percent of the population. Pareto's theory thereby relates to the ratio of input to output; e.g. twenty percent of your effort produces 80 percent of your results. From a time management perspective, it means that 20 percent of the people are normally responsible for producing 80 percent of the work.

As a manager it thereby becomes important to recognize your core 20 percent workers and concentrate your attention on them. It also becomes important to devise new means to squeeze out the remaining 20 percent of the work from the 80 percent who do not actively participate. This is not to suggest that the 80 percent doesn't care about their work, they just may not be as talented or experienced as your 20 percent workers.

With the 80/20 Rule in mind you must also be sensitive to a byproduct resulting from it: petty jealousy. Since the 20 percent performs the work, they are thereby deserving of the accolades for performing it. Inevitably, it is not uncommon for small minded individuals from the 80 percent to feel slighted and jealous of those doing the work and receiving the recognition. Such petty jealously should be overlooked and the person forgiven, unless something more malicious is involved, such as character assassination of which there is no excuse. The manager must carefully squash this behavior before it has an adverse effect on your 20 percent. If not, the 20 percent worker will question why he is working so hard if he is only going to be the object of ridicule and humiliation. If your 20 percent begins to believe they are "Damned if they do, Damned if they don't" in their assignments, then nothing will be produced and your 80 percent work effort will plummet.

The 80/20 Rule is an interesting phenomenon that every manager must be cognizant of to get the most out of their workers.


All operating managers should be intimate with the Information Systems affecting their departments. Here, I am not simply talking about software, but rather all of the business processes (sub-systems) affecting their area, including both automated and manual processes.

Drawing from our "PRIDE"-Information Systems Engineering Methodology (ISEM), I offer tips for identifying the system structure; see:

And give tips on flowcharting sub-systems:

Such graphical diagramming techniques may be a lost art in the Information Technology industry, but they are invaluable tools for managers to get their arms around their systems and assure their workers are performing the tasks properly. I also offer instruction in how to write procedures using Les Matthies' "Playscript" technique; see:

No. 38 - "The Language of Systems" - Aug 22, 2006


Coupled with the explanation of Information Systems, I offer some advice on how to work with I.T. professionals. First, I differentiate between the interests of the business manager versus the I.T. person who tends to be somewhat introverted and more concerned with technology than solving business systems problems. Consequently, I offer the following advice:

* Do not accept gobbledygook - I.T. people like to cloud the issue with a verbosity of technical jargon. I argue they should be forced to talk in terms the manager will understand. Also, do not be dazzled by trinkets. Remember one of our Bryce's Laws, "An elegant solution to the wrong problem solves nothing."

* Defining Information Requirements - it is more important that the manager articulate the business problem as opposed to dictating a technical solution. Let the I.T. people do their job and determine an effective solution. Too often I see managers specifying screens and reports. Instead, they should be explaining the actions and/or business decisions to be supported. Remember, a problem well defined is half solved.

* Review Designs & Cost Justification - technology should not be obtained simply to "Keep up with the Jones'." Instead, there should be specific rationale for selecting a technical course of action, along with a good cost justification. Don't let the I.T. people off the hook, make them do their homework. Also, hold them accountable for what they promise to deliver (get it in writing from them). Force them to be as accountable as you are to your superiors.


My concluding comments in the course reinforce my position that managers are in the problem solving business. If everything was going well and everyone knew what they were doing, there wouldn't be a need for managers. A manager, therefore, is in the business of providing leadership, diagnosing/solving problems, and taking action. It is not about technology; it is not about numbers; it is about people.

Also in my concluding comments, I observe that the successful manager is one who does himself out of a job. In other words, he/she has conquered the problems of the department, set it on a proper course, and now seeks new areas to conquer.


So far, I have had no problem getting people to accept the lessons inculcated in the eBook and Training Program. I guess I shouldn't be surprised as it is all commonsense. But if I have learned anything in this business, it is that commonsense is not very common.

Finally, I'll close with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, which I use to conclude the training course:

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails Daring Greatly so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."

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


Folks, if you enjoyed this week's essay, you'll also enjoy our new eBook and training program entitled, "The Bryce is Right! Empowering Managers in today's Corporate Culture." This is a frank and candid description of the state of the art in management and includes essays on the problems in management today, along with some pragmatic advice on how to deal with them. Basically, this is a condensed course in management. As such, it is suited for managers, either those aspiring to become a manager or for those who need a refresher course. It will also be of interest to young people entering the work force, and is excellent for college curriculums.

Bill Dominguez of Ecocentric Strategies in San Francisco calls it, "A breath of fresh air in the polluted ether of Silicon Valley management."

John Lusa of Dayton says it is "Well written and has tons of good ideas on management."

And Pat O'Callaghan of Philadelphia says, "If you don't want to manage right. Do not read this book. The book contains philosophies that are universal and fundamental."

The price is just $20 plus tax. For more information on our book or to order on-line, see:

We have also just produced a new one-day training program of the same name. For more information on both the eBook and course, please visit our web site at:


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.


I recently received an iPod "Shuffle" for opening a business account. Its not as big as the regular iPod. In fact, its nothing more than a memory stick and no bigger than my thumb. Even though its small, it can hold a lot of music and podcasts on it. It is also easy to carry in a pocket and plug into with some earphones. My kids have iPods but I never really tried one out. So I decided to download some music and podcasts and try experimented with it for a couple of days around the office. One of the first things I noticed was that I was paying more attention to the music and commentaries on the iPod as opposed to concentrating on my work. I suspect I'm not alone in this regard which gives me cause for concern.

We see a lot of younger people plugged into iPods these days. Some jogging around town, others listening in their spare time. I guess what concerns me is that they are being used while working on the job. Frankly, I don't think this is a good idea as it affects the focus of people. Instead of interpersonal relations in the work place we now have people "plugged in and tuned out."

Not long ago I mentioned a research paper performed by Kings College in London on behalf of Hewlett-Packard. The paper made a compelling argument that too much technology is having an adverse effect on the productivity of our workers. Having experimented with the iPod Shuffle, I would have to agree with their conclusions. It also made me wonder if companies have written corporate policies on the use of iPods and other such devices in the workplace. If they don't already exist, I can't help but believe such policies are in the offing.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.


I received an e-mail from a Martin Dimond in Cincinnati who wrote me regarding last week's essay entitled, "Creating a Skills Inventory."
Martin writes:

"I developed a Skills Inventory much like what you proposed in your broadcast. This has saved the company a lot of money and has allowed me as a manager to keep the skills of my staff sharp."

Thanks Martin for your note,

You're absolutely right. I also find it interesting to discover the talents of people you didn't know existed. This is incredibly useful for managers in finding the right people for the right project assignment.

As an aside, I developed a simple Skills Inventory using Lotus Approach. If you would like a free complimentary copy of it, please drop me a line.

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


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.

Summers Hagerman of Cincinnati says, "This book provides management with a complete set of powerful tools for managing the largest information systems projects."

Check it out at:

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

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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