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July 30, 2007

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In our July 9th show, my "Pet Peeve of the Week" was the "Adverse Effect of Technology" which resulted in an avalanche of e-mail from our listeners (be sure to listen to some of the responses in our "Letters to the Editor" section later in the broadcast). In that article I put forth an observation that "As the use of technology increases, social skills decreases." I want to take this concept a little further in this broadcast.

Before we had computers and the sophisticated communication devices we now have in the work place, there was a lot of manual processing involved. Orders were processed manually, as were shipments, financial transactions, and many other business processes. All involved considerable paperwork with documents, reports, journals, logs, spreadsheets, etc. We of course used the latest technology of the day which included such things as typewriters, adding machines, filing systems, cash registers, and tabulating equipment. Nonetheless, the emphasis was on manual processing which meant we were forced to work together, like it or not, hence the need for better interpersonal communications. In other words, out of sheer necessity we were forced to socialize in order for the company to function properly. Since the business processes were so laborious, companies would worry about losing time on a task, hence the need for long range planning.

Today, electronic automation is used to implement just about every business process in a company. The idea of operating without computer support or electronic communications is unimaginable. True, such devices have been able to expedite the processes, but in doing so people no longer have to interact in order to fulfill their jobs, hence the breakdown in interpersonal communications. And because our tasks are not as laborious as they once were, the technology allows us to make changes on the fly. Consequently, long range planning has been sacrificed and reactionary management practices have taken their place. In reality, long range planning is still very much needed in order to remain competitive in a world economy, but this is not the mindset in today's corporate cultures anymore.

As I mentioned in my "Pet Peeve," we have developed an overt dependency on our technology which results in three areas of concern: first, that a company comes to a standstill when the power is disrupted (we can no longer perform the business processes); second, it tends to emphasize short-term planning as opposed to long range (whereby we are content to perform small tasks), and; third, basic interpersonal relations are negatively affected because we are no longer forced to interact with others.

Again, I am most definitely not anti-technology, but neither am I anti-human socialization. If I have learned anything in the 30+ years of experience in the information systems industry, it is that people matter most of all; that it is people who use information, not technology; that projects and business processes are executed by human-beings, not robots; that it is the human-being which is of paramount importance in everything.

I have always found it rather easy to teach people technology, In fact, it is relatively easy to program a person to use a particular device. But it is much more difficult to teach them the socialization skills to effectively interact with others. This is why our corporate slogan remains, "Software for the finest computer - the Mind."

If you would like to discuss this with me in more depth, please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail.

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is... "As the use of technology increases, social skills decreases."


Friends, the "PRIDE" Methodologies for Information Resource Management (IRM) is a common sense solution for Enterprise Engineering, Systems Engineering, Data Base Engineering, and Project Management. The methodologies include defined work breakdown structures, deliverables, and review points that promote quality and the production of industrial-strength information systems. Building information resources is a science, not an art form. Our methodologies clearly explain the concepts that govern them, which remarkably, is derived from engineering/manufacturing practices. Now you can get these acclaimed methodologies for free at our corporate web site at:


Years ago, perhaps the most popular type of television show was a variety program such as that offered by Ed Sullivan, Carol Burnett, and many others. Such shows offered comedy, music, magic, some drama, or whatever. Actually, the variety show was a throwback to what was called "Vaudeville" in the early part of the 20th century. People watched such programs for well rounded entertainment. But both Vaudeville and the variety shows are now extinct. Instead, we have a series of specialty shows on television for comedy, drama, music, game shows, journalism, and of course "reality" (although I don't think there is anything very realistic about such shows). We've even gone beyond this though, with whole television networks dedicated to a certain subject matter, such as the Comedy Channel, the History Channel, the Food Network, and so on. This got me thinking about how our culture has become a generation of specialists with a rather narrow point of view.

Whereas we used to believe in a well rounded education where we were taught to observe the world around us, we now tend to focus on a particular niche and overlook everything else, a sort of tunnel-vision whereby we expend all of our energy and interests and disregard everything else. For example, there are very few general auto mechanics anymore, most specialize in a particular type of car, such as German, Japanese, or particular brands. The medical profession is no different; I think I can count on one hand the number of General Practitioners I know, but there are many more specialists out there. I also see this in the Information Technology field where instead of general programmers, we see specialists whose niche is either a particular programming language or type of application to be written.

I guess we need specialists to concentrate on a particular type of problem, but we also need generalists who can see the big picture, but they are becoming few and far between. For example, it is becoming rare to find a manager who can think beyond the four walls of his department. If you specialize in a single area, you tend to believe it is of utmost importance and at the root of everything. For example, not long ago I was experiencing an unusual squeak in my car which I couldn't figure out. I took it to an auto mechanic friend who specialized in transmissions and he believed it to be a transmission problem. He recommended I replace the transmission which would have been a very expensive undertaking. Wanting a second opinion, I went to a general mechanic who told me there wasn't anything wrong with the transmission, but someone had put on my fan belt backwards which he replaced at a cost that was a great deal less than a transmission would have been. Whereas my specialist friend thought my problem was related to his area of expertise, the generalist looked at the overall automobile and found the problem.

Generalists to me are like orchestra conductors, they may not be proficient in each and every instrument, but they know how to bring them all together to make beautiful music. Doctors who are General Practitioners are the same; if they cannot solve the problem, they know who to call to fix something. But we need more generalists in business as well, which I always regarded as managers; if they can't solve the problem, they should be able to locate someone who can.

Years ago when I played football I won an award called the "Iron Man" for playing the most minutes on the field. A lot of guys kidded me about the name "Iron Man" (it does sound a little corny) but I looked at it with pride as it meant I played on more teams than anyone else and always knew where the game was heading. In other words, I wasn't just concerned with offense, defense or a specialty team, I was concerned with winning the game.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.


Folks, a couple of years ago I started to include my "Pet Peeve of the Week" in these "Management Visions" podcasts. They have become so popular that I now syndicate them through the Internet and they are available for republication in other media. To this end, I have created a separate web page for my writings which you can find at Look for the section, "The Bryce is Right!" Hope you enjoy them.


I received considerable responses to my "Pet Peeve" a couple of weeks ago regarding "The Adverse Effects of Technology".

An A.E. of Tampa wrote:

"You hit the nail right on the head! However very few CEO"S will admit to the harsh reality of what is really happening in America today. Great Issue!!"

A J.B. in Washington State writes:

"I agree with your conclusions...(I'm actually in my early 30s and I'm starting to find my niche).

Anyhow, I think you have forgotten is a forth bullet-point:

4. The majority of new inventions/findings will not be in the technology itself. It will be in how people utilize the new technology. How we find new channels and usage of all the new technology. Personally I think we are just in the beginning of a wonderful era.

Thanks for the good writing."

And an O.Z. of Florida writes:

"I have not thought of technology vs. social skills.

Many people whose work involves dealing with the public have been taking special courses on communicating, such as NLP (neuro linguistic programming). Sales people have been into this big time. You have to study it yourself for self defense.

As to perceptions - One that bothers me is the way people dress. I think all but the present generation reacts to the way a person is dressed. This was the reason for the tall hats, and shoulder enhancements in the older times. It marked a person of power and everyone was conditioned to respond accordingly. Today you can walk into some law offices where you might be greeted by a girl wearing what appears to be "around the house" clothes. Others may be baring their over-endowed chests."

Thanks for your comments.

Keep those cards and letters coming.

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 © 2007 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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