Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April 7, 2008


It's been a while since I've discussed the concept of "effectiveness" but I was recently up in Cincinnati and saw it in action again. This time, I happened to be visiting my brother-in-law who had hired a crew to tear down some dead trees on his property. I went outside to enjoy a cigar and watch the activity. There were three workers who tended to their own individual tasks most of the time; one was busy cutting wood, one was concerned with splitting wood, and one was responsible for hauling it away. When each tended to their own task, they were very productive, but when they grouped together to perform something collectively, I noticed their output dropped significantly as it seemed two watched one work.

The concept of effectiveness is derived from plant construction by the DuPont Company in Delaware over half a century ago and is primarily concerned with the use of time by workers. In their study, it was discovered that workers were only working 25% of the available time (on the average). This meant that a construction worker was only at labor two hours during an eight hour workday. This led to two other conclusions; first, effectiveness was not the same as efficiency, it was merely the analysis of the use of available time during the day. And second, such analysis was invaluable for scheduling purposes. To illustrate, if it is estimated that it takes ten (10) hours of whole work (aka, "Direct" work), and if the worker's "effectiveness rate" was 25%, then the elapsed time to complete the work is five (5) days. This element alone greatly contributed to calculating reliable schedules.

We have applied this principle in our approach to project management and found it to be an invaluable technique for calculating schedules, particularly among systems and software personnel who are typically 70% effective during the day (as are most office workers).

The concept also points out that nobody can be 100% effective during the day. Inevitably, there are interferences which interrupt our work, such as meetings, phone calls, breaks, etc. Further, it would be foolish for employees to compete over high effectiveness rates. Although management would like to see high rates, in all likelihood workers are misquoting the use of their time (thinking it is a reflection of their efficiency, which it most certainly is not). To illustrate, a senior person who is perhaps highly efficient at his job may have a low effectiveness rate (has many interferences); in contrast, a young worker who is not as proficient may have a much higher effectiveness rate. This just means the younger person knows how to manage his time better than the senior worker.

Effectiveness also helps to delineate the responsibilities of the worker and the manager in terms of planning and project execution. It is up to the individual worker to manage the "Direct" time, and it is up to the manager to manage the "Indirect" time, representing the interferences. This supports the "Mini-Project Manager" concept whereby the worker prepares the estimates of Direct time to complete a task, and management applies the worker's "effectiveness rate" to calculate the schedule. The manager then monitors the "Indirect" time to assure the task is completed as scheduled.

There was also one last interesting observation made in this regard: Effectiveness diminishes as more people are added to a single task. After all, only so many hands can be applied to a given task. Too many will result in people standing back and waiting for others to complete the task. Because of this phenomenon, management resorts to a "divide and conquer" strategy whereby the work is broken into smaller and more manageable pieces.

It's interesting what you observe when you stop to enjoy a good cigar, but then again, I wasn't being very effective was I?

NOTE: For more information on this subject, see "PRIDE" Project Management at:

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...



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 realize "business casual" is the norm in most companies today but I am wondering if we have forgotten how to dress appropriately for all other occasions. Years ago, when we attended church, we were usually expected to dress up as a sign of respect, but I don't see too many men in suits and ties anymore. There was also a time when you flew on an airplane or went to a Las Vegas casino you were expected to dress up. Alas, no more. In fact, we now look pretty grungy most of the time.

Recently, my wife and I went to see comedian Martin Short at Ruth Eckerd Hall here in Clearwater where he was putting on a one man show and supported by a five piece band. You might remember Marty from Saturday Night Live, Second City TV, Jimminy Glick, or some of his movies, such as "The Three Amigos" with Chevy Chase and Steve Martin. Nonetheless, prior to the show, we waited in the lounge area enjoying a drink and doing some people watching.

We saw quite an eclectic group of people dressed in a wide variety of tastes. I noticed the older men tended to dress up for the occasion, some in suit and tie, but most with a sport coat and slacks. The younger men tended to wear jeans and T-shirts. Rarely did they wear a collared shirt. But my favorite was a gentlemen I judged to be in his late 50's who wore a blue Polo shirt, cargo shorts, and tennis shoes (no socks). To me, he stuck out like a sore thumb, looking more like he belonged at a picnic as opposed to the theater. But I chalked it up to changing times.

Martin Short put on an excellent show that evening. In addition to his standup comedy, he demonstrated a fabulous singing voice which I didn't know existed. During one portion of his program, he asked for three volunteers to help him with a sketch related to his "Three Amigos" movie. He went into the audience and selected three gentlemen, one of which was the guy I saw earlier dressed in the cargo shorts. As the three stood on the stage, Short briefly interviewed each of them prior to performing the skit. When he got to the cargo shorts, Short gave a shocked expression and facetiously said, "It's good to meet someone who still knows how to dress for the theater." This resulted in gales of laughter from the audience. Short approached the man more closely on the stage, who now appeared a little embarrassed, and said, "Let me ask you something, if this is how you dress up for the theater, how do you dress when you go bowling?" I think the man wanted to crawl into a hole at this point, but took the ribbing graciously.

I know Short did this all in jest, but I sensed he was trying to make a point. Since he knew the patrons had paid good money to attend this prominent venue, he was trying to put on a first class show and dressed accordingly. And I believe he was offended to see someone dress like a slob for the occasion. His message was clear: How we dress is a sign of respect for the others around us. The cargo shorts may have been fine for some other more casual events, but not for the theater. As for me, I found it interesting how he was able to teach this lesson through comedy, and hopefully nobody's feelings were hurt. But then again, there are some people who are just plain thick and will never get it, no matter how you insult them.

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" entitled, "Office Politics":

An L.O. in Turkey wrote...

"As much as I hate politics, it is unfortunately a way of life. Grand is the life of an IT mushroom who can moulder away with the servers. Alas, politics finds its way there too." :(

An S.B. in Maryland wrote...

"In my experience, the saboteur is the worst of the lot. I’ve never figured out a good way of dealing with him. Have you any suggestions? Mainly, I’m applying Judo principles: don’t push back; that which you resist persists. Thank him for his contribution and move on. Unfortunately, he moves on to rat to the boss, or subvert things some other way."

An M.M. in Pennsylvania wrote...

"Great article. I have always believed that the attitudes of a company come from above. If a team spirit is fostered from the top it will be much easier for people to be productive. I worked for a short time in a company that permitted chaos to reign. It was every person for themselves. I had one person sabotage my work right out in the open and no one called on it (read management). I immediately sought new employment and never looked back. Your advice is true. Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed. And never, never, never reveal personal information. No one is there to be your best friend. They are there to prosper and you are potentially in their way."

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

A D.B. in Tarpon Springs, Florida wrote...

"Have you ever worked with European team members ramping up for their month long vacation in August? It is interesting to see the extra long laundry list they send over for the US team members to work on while they are away."

An I.L. in Maryland wrote...

"Whoa, you got me sheriff. I currently have 30 days of vacation saved up and I get two more weeks (10 days) worth in a month. I haven't taken more than three work days off in a row in ten years. In fact, the last real "vacation" I had was in 1998 ... I was between jobs so I had the time. I think I need help. Mommy."

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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This is Tim Bryce reporting.

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




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