Tuesday, February 05, 2008

February 11, 2008


Years ago the technology industry was defined by IBM and the "BUNCH" (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, CDC, and Honeywell). One by one, the BUNCH slowly evaporated and have either been merged into other entities or taken a back seat to others, such as Digital, Wang, Data General, and others, all of which have also ridden off into the sunset. In the software industry, the big guns used to be Cincom, Cullinane, MSA, and Computer Associates, but it is now hard to find anyone in the business who even remembers their names.

Today, Wall Street defines the technology industry by such names as Google, Apple, Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, Priceline, Facebook, Intuit, Yahoo!, and others. Remarkably, IBM's name rarely appears in this regards which leads me to believe they are starting to fade from view as the BUNCH did years earlier.

There was a time when you mentioned the name "IBM" it conjured up images of mainframes, midrange computers, PC's, networks, operating systems, DBMS' and office equipment. Today, I'm not too sure exactly what it represents. I think they still sell "big iron" but they have abdicated just about everything else to others. They talk about such things as middleware, storage devices, and file servers, which is a far cry from the comprehensive product line that once dominated the industry.

For years it was well understood in the corporate world that you could never get fired for recommending the purchase of IBM products. It was the safe bet. Now they are lucky to be even considered in the running. From a hardware point of view, I still believe they know how to engineer products. I still have some of their PC's which, when you look under the cover, are solidly built and much better than just about anyone else's. But IBM now finds itself in the awkward position of having to prove itself as a viable solution provider.

IBM used to be well known for strong marketing tactics, some say heavy handed, but this started to change in the 1990's as IBM acquiesced the desktop to Microsoft. Instead of dominating the industry, they now appear to be content to lay back on the ropes absorbing one punch after another. What bothers me is that they give the appearance of a company who is no longer in charge of their own destiny and rely on others for direction. To me, this is the sign of a company on the verge of becoming irrelevant.

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...
This week, instead of my usual Bryce's Law, I have a quote from the legendary baseball great Satchel Paige who said, "Don't look back - something might be gaining on you."


Friends, we have just published a new book entitled, "MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD - A Handbook for Entering the Work Force" which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life.

Bonnie Wooding, the President-elect of the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) said, "Many of our members are just starting their careers and I will be recommending that they read this book, especially Chapter 3, Professional Development - a primer for business skills and filled with basic common sense advice that is simple, easy to follow and extraordinarily practical; and Chapter 5, Do’s and Don’ts of the Workplace, an excellent resource for those questions you are too embarrassed to ask for fear of looking foolish."

The Miami Hurricane recently reviewed it (10/22/2007) and said,

"the abundance of information the book provides is a good start for anyone about to take the first step into the real world. Though the concept of adulthood may seem intimidating, it's comforting to know that someone has at least written a guidebook for it."

Reviewer Bill Petrey praised it by saying, "Every young person entering the workplace for the first time should be given a copy of this book."

The book includes chapters to describe how a young person should organize themselves, how to adapt to the corporate culture, develop their career, and improve themselves professionally and socially. Basically, its 208 pages of good sound advice to jump start the young person into the work force. Corporate Human Resource departments will also find this book useful for setting new hires on the right track in their career. It not only reinforces the many formal rules as contained in corporate policy manuals, but also includes the subtle unwritten rules we must all observe while working with others. The book lists for $25 and can be ordered online through MBA or your local book store. Complementing the book is a one day seminar of the same name which can be purchased separately for $4,000.00 (U.S.) plus instructor travel expenses. For more information on both the book and the seminar, visit our corporate web site at:
ISBN: 978-0-9786182-5-4


I have been teaching Project Management for a long time now. Actually it's not very complicated as the principles have long been established. Every now and then though a hack comes along with some new harebrained scheme related to Project Management, usually involving some pseudo-intellectual formula for calculating project estimates and schedules. In reality, there is no hocus-pocus in Project Management, the mechanics are relatively simple to perform, but to me, it is the human dynamics involved which makes it most interesting. As I explain it, Project Management is not about filling out forms or technology, it's about getting people to complete project tasks on time and within budget. It's all about people. I don't care if you have the most sophisticated software to assist you, unless you can motivate and instruct people properly, you're not going to be completing any project any time soon.

In the past you have heard me talk about managing from the bottom-up; that it is important to get people to participate in the planning process, thereby stimulating their interest and gaining their commitment to project tasks. As part of this, it is necessary to report on their project activities on a routine basis and update estimates and schedules accordingly. This is normally done by recording your time on a daily basis using either an electronic time screen or paper form (for samples, see:

Time Distribution Worksheet
(second example)

The time report should include places to record time spent on project assignments as well as the time spent on indirect activities such as meetings, reading, personal time, etc. They should then be reviewed and approved by the person's manager to make sure time was reported accurately and to calculate project and departmental time summaries.

Interestingly, I run into people who openly resist reporting their time, particularly those in the Information Technology field such as programmers. At first, I was puzzled by their resistance as I saw this as a rather simple and integral part of managing projects. Over time I discovered that the better people openly welcomed time reporting while others shunned it. Some were rather belligerent and resisted any attempts to report the use of their time. Regardless of how patiently I tried to explain it to them, they simply wanted no part of it. They countered they were "professionals" and as such, it was beneath their dignity to record their time. I explained that other "professionals" such as attorneys, accountants, and contractors kept track of their time; why not them? As I discovered later, the reason for their refusal was they simply didn't want people to know what they were doing and were resisting accountability. I find such thinking as a bit mind boggling. For this kind of person, I found you cannot simply request they fill out a time report, you have to demand it, or even threaten them with their job.

As I said, the better workers have no trouble recording their use of time. In fact, they believe it will show management how industrious they really are. And maybe that's what scares the hell out of those who resist it; that they will be exposed for what they are: labor-fakers.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.


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 the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" on "Symbolism":

An M.T. in St. Louis, MO wrote...

"Well said, Tim! We used to take such pride in our symbols, too...and where has that gone? Thank you for encouraging your teams to say the Pledge of Allegiance. The teams that adamantly opposed really should not be allowed to play. I believe that."

An I.L. in New York wrote...

"I would rather burn politicians than flags but they will put you in prison for that. I find that people that complain about flag burning have a real lack of faith in our country's people and Constitution."

I also received the following e-mails regarding my "Pet Peeve" on "Office Clutter":

An M.B. in Clearwater, Florida wrote:

"Wow, Tim, I'm with you on being very annoyed by the 'look at how important and busy I am as noted by my cluttered desk' types, but as a total neatnik, I've noticed over the years that the cluttered types seem to be unable to organize. My husband is like that, and he honestly can't see HOW to organize things. When we were going to move to Winter Haven last year, the moving van company said they would refuse to move us unless he cleaned up his workshop. I watched him attempt to clean up his workshop every weekend for two months. No real progress was being made at all and he seemed baffled. Finally, I took charge and told him what to do, step by step, and it was done in three hours. It's like a part of his brain is missing. One of my best coworkers on my last job was a real messy type, and was sent to time management seminars because of it. It did not help. I am not sure you can really change your style. Yet, you say you've seen it done, so I wish you would come over here and whip him into shape for me! I often joke that he is the living incarnation of 'Pig Pen' from the Peanuts comic strip. Of course, his comeback is that I have turned into Lucy. Touche!"

An F.D. in Edmonton, Alberta wrote...

"I truly believe that the increasing problem with sloppiness is sloppiness... since the utter disposal of dress codes people have gone down hill in almost every way. Today, slacks (not blue jeans) and an open neck shirt is called business casual?... what is business dress?... No running shoes? You rarely see a man in a shirt and tie with a suit anymore. When is the last time anybody saw a shoe shine stand?... These small businesses went the way of the buggy whip because you don't need to shine sneakers, deck shoes, sandals and those wretched Dawgs! I can't say I have ever seen a woman that looks good in the omnipresent flip-flops (or Dawgs) or men that look anything but stupid in sandals... Good manners doesn't allow for mens' bare feet to show and sandals and socks are for vegetarians and other nerds although closer to good dress codes."

Thanks for your comments. For these and other comments, please visit my "Bryce is Right!" web site.

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.

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.

If you have any questions or would like to be placed on our e-mailing list to receive notification of future broadcasts, please e-mail it to

For a copy of past broadcasts, please contact me directly.

We accept MP3 files with your voice for possible inclusion in the broadcast.

There is no charge for adding a link to "Management Visions" on your web page, for details and HTML code, see the "Management Visions" web site.

Management Visions accepts advertising. For rates, please contact yours truly directly.

Copyright © 2008 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."




Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home