Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April 21, 2008


I was recently asked by an "Agile" proponent if I thought our "PRIDE" methodologies were too rigid for today's fast-paced Information Technology world, that perhaps it was too bureaucratic. First, I pointed out that "PRIDE" was more of a way of thinking as opposed to anything else. For example, You can remove all of the documentation associated with the methodologies, including the forms, and still produce a system. This took him aback somewhat as he had thought of "PRIDE" as an inflexible paper mill.

Next I asked him about his business, which was the manufacturing of jet engines. I followed this up by asking if there was a defined sequence for designing and manufacturing the engines. He of course said, "Yes." I then inquired about the steps involved and the rationale for their sequence. As it turned out, the steps for design were essentially no different than the design and development for any product, e.g.; requirements definition, different levels of abstraction in design, parts specifications, etc.

I then asked what would happen if certain steps were dropped from the process. He said this would inevitably lead to some costly mistakes.

"So, there is a right way for building a jet engine and a wrong way?" I asked.


"And what happens if they have to skip over certain steps or do it in the wrong sequnce?"


I said, "Thank you. You've just described the rationale of our "PRIDE" methodologies."

I explained "PRIDE" used the same concepts and techniques as used in other engineering and manufacturing disciplines; that we view a system as a product that can be designed and developed like any other product. This argument represents the crux of the problem in systems development. Basically, we are saying systems development is a science, and others say it is an art form (which I have discussed on more than one occasion). Maybe this is because systems and software are much less tangible than a product, such as a jet engine. Nevertheless, it can and should be designed and developed in the same method.

So, is "PRIDE" too rigid? I guess that depends on your perspective; if you consider your methodology to build jet engines as too rigid, then, Yes, I guess it is. But if you believe there is a right and wrong way for building a product, and grasp the potential dangers of skipping steps, then, No, "PRIDE" is no different than any other engineering/manufacturing process.

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

Keep the faith!

OUR BRYCE'S LAW OF THE WEEK therefore is...

"If we built bridges the same way we build systems in this country, this would be a nation run by ferryboats."


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 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 think the idea of job titles originally came from the military centuries ago when it was necessary to delineate the chain of command, such as generals, colonels, captains, etc. In business you were simply known by your profession, such as accountant, attorney, baker, doctor, laborer, etc. But as big business flourished we started to add titles like the military to denote the administrative hierarchy, such as president, vice president, director, manager, supervisor, etc. Today it seems like everyone has to have some impressive job title and the more obnoxious, the better. The I.T. field alone has more than its share of cryptic titles, for example: New Metrics Analyst, Content Engineer, E-mail Channel Specialist, Metamediary CEO, Chief Knowledge Officer, and Chief Internet Officer. I even ran into one entitled, "Webmistress Extraordinaire." I'm not too sure what these titles mean (I can only guess) but it sure seems that titles are becoming increasingly more important to people, probably because it massages our ego and own self worth.

I had a friend who was an I.T. manager in New England who had an opening for a programmer at a very generous pay level with excellent benefits. Interestingly, he had one guy turn him down simply because he wanted the job title of "Software Engineer" as opposed to a mere "Programmer."

Some companies cannot offer their employees large salaries and give fancy titles instead. I think banks probably have more vice presidents than just about any other institution. In fact, they have taken it to the sublime whereby they have Executive Vice Presidents, Senior Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents, Junior Vice Presidents, etc. I wonder where the janitor fits in this scheme?

Frankly, I think most of these job titles are nothing more than malarkey, impressing nobody but themselves. I am finding those companies who emphasize teamwork are moving away from fancy job titles, even going as far as to omit job titles from business cards altogether. In other words, by having everyone on the same level playing field, ego problems are eliminated or at least minimized.

Then again, there are those who will always need a big salary and job title. I am reminded of an I.T. Director who had a pressing project to be accomplished requiring him to hire many new people. Basically, he was told by his superiors to hire whoever he wanted, give them whatever they wanted, and whatever job title they desired; but when the project was over, fire them all.

I guess the point is job titles have more value to you than it does to others. And if you cannot operate without being referred to as the "Head Raccoon" or some other obnoxious job title, then you've got some real problems pal.

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.

Also, if you happen to be in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, be sure to stop by and check out our new Palm Harbor Business OASIS, a new business venue offering local business people a place to meet, work, network, and relax. Why pay a lot for leasing office space when you can become a member of the OASIS for as little as $100/month? For more information, visit our web site at:


I received the following e-mails from my article on "Covering for Incompetence":

A J.S. in Arizona wrote...

"Sometimes this happens from classifications and fixed skill level pay structures. A person my be great at what they do, everybody likes them, they work their tail off, but unfortunately there is no way to reward that effort through monetary means. So they are offered an opening in management, which they aren't really keen about, but want the money, and convinced internally etc. that they will succeed with it in time. Unfortunately, often later they, co-workers, and the company may suffer, and could lose that great person completely. Nobody likes to fail, and some will find other employment in lieu of that embarrassment."

I received the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" entitled, "Tunnel Vision":

A C.C. in Allentown, Pennsylvania wrote...

"One must be very careful not to characterize those who do not see one's view or perspective as having 'tunnel vision', as the other may be seeing things one is not. I've been criticized a number of times for not 'thinking like the customer,' especially when I am frustrated that they do not see what I do, what I believe they should. Also, is there a distinction between having 'tunnel vision' and being 'self-absorbed'?"

A T.C. in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida writes...

"One of the things that really interests me is the way people think. I agree, 'tunnel vision' is a huge problem. I think that certain people have tendencies to think in certain ways. Our educational system tends to support 'tunnel vision' and discourage looking at the 'big picture.' I think this problem underlies a lot of what troubles people individually and the nation as a whole. To act intelligently and meaningfully requires a sense of the big picture and a clear sense of how that picture was constructed, with all its strengths and limitations."

I received the following e-mails from my "Pet Peeve" entitled, "Airline Magazines":

A J.D. in Florida wrote...

"I just had to laugh at this one. I worked for TWA back in the early 90's. Perhaps this defunct airline is not the best example, but I knew the art director who put together TWA's in-flight magazine. It was, if you can believe this, a one man operation. He created the magazine, cover-to-cover, himself. Most of it was repetitive (pick-ups) in terms of ads and airline information, but he alone was responsible for finding articles, photos, creating the cover etc. Having worked as an art director myself now for 18 years, I still cannot fully grasp how he was able to accomplish it all. Personally, I don't see the value in having a magazine at all, except to pass the time with puzzles. Meaty articles and op-eds are best left to the major players in the magazine business, with their specialized and relevant content. But I suppose the in-flight rag is a value added feature that passengers come to expect. This passenger is more concerned about timely departures and safe travel, but that's just one coach traveler's opinion. So with all of the bankruptcies, cutbacks, rising fuel costs, etc., perhaps such "frills" ought to go the way of TWA. A nice idea, but without the ability for a quality follow-through, let's just stick to giving the customers what they pay for - safe passage. But don't stop the beverage cart. Please."

Again, 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.

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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."




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