Monday, May 05, 2008

May 12, 2008


The short answer: "Because it requires work."

The long answer:
People tend to resist gazing into the crystal ball and prefer to react to life as it passes them by. Some people believe planning in today's ever changing world is a waste of time, that you must be more "agile" and accommodate changes as they occur. As anyone who has designed and built anything of substance knows, this is utterly ridiculous. We would not have the many great skyscrapers, bridges, dams, highways, ships, planes, and other sophisticated equipment without the efforts of architects and engineers. Without such planning, our country would look essentially no different than how the pioneers first discovered the continent. Although we must certainly be flexible in our plans, and we will inevitably make some mistakes along the way, little progress would be made if we did not try to plan a course of action and control our destiny.

People often take planning for granted, that someone else will be making plans for us, such as government officials, our corporate management, or even the elders of our families. Consequently we become rather lax about looking into the future. Nor is there any encouragement by anyone to plan our affairs, such as a tax break. Whereas other countries offer incentives to save money for the future, such as Japan, America does not. Therefore, planning is a rather personal activity; we either see the virtue in doing so or we do not.

Americans have become legendary reactionaries who procrastinate until it is too late. We see this in everything from business planning, to career planning, family planning, financial planning, and even planning for our demise. It is simply not in the American psyche to plan, but to react instead. There are plenty of examples to illustrate the point; such as Pearl Harbor (where General Billy Mitchell predicted the attack with great accuracy 17 years prior to December 7th, 1941); there is also Hurricane Katrina (where engineers and government officials knew well in advance of the weaknesses in New Orleans' system of dykes and levees, yet did nothing about it); and, of course, 9/11 (where we learned a hard lesson of dropping our defenses in the face of terrorism).

Years ago, a long range business plan was for five-to-ten years. Such plans have become scarce in recent times; probable casualties of a dynamic world economy. Now, "long range" either means until the end of the fiscal year or end of the quarter. It is even difficult to get a prioritized list of objectives for a department, let alone a whole company. Instead, companies are now operating under a whirlwind of ever changing "priority ones," thus confusing workers and causing them to be counterproductive.

In the I.T. arena, planning is still very much a faux pas, but then again, it has always been such. For example, in our "PRIDE"-Information Systems Engineering Methodology (ISEM), developers would like to skip through the early phases used for planning and design, in order to get to the programming phases. In other words, they didn't feel comfortable in planning and instead preferred to be writing software. This makes for an interesting paradox: although they liked to skip down to programming (where the "real work" was performed), they also liked to complain about deficiencies in requirements definition and other design specifications (which would naturally result from the preceding phases had they been performed). The most common excuse you hear from developers is, "The users do not know what they want." Basically, this is an admission that the developer is either not properly trained in or lacks the discipline to plan properly.

Part of the problem is that we have become very impatient for results and I think this can be attributed to our technology. For example, we now expect information at our fingertips, instant communications, quick turnarounds in medicine, etc. Instead of patiently waiting for results, we now want instant gratification. Consequently, activities such as planning are perceived as interferences for getting a job done.

There are, of course, several tools available for planning,

* Calendars - to remind us of important dates. Even though there are many varieties in paper form and automated on computers and cell phones, it is interesting to see how few people actually use them.

* Statistics and trend analysis - which is actively used in business to track historical activity, and hopefully to project corporate direction. Perhaps the best known entity to use such tools in the U.S. Bureau of the Census who produces some rather interesting projections which are often overlooked by the general populace.

* Documentation - When building new products or other major structures, a set of blueprints are required to act as a road map during construction. Without such blueprints, construction or manufacturing cannot be effectively implemented or managed. The same is true in the realm of Information Systems, without a well thought out set of blueprints (flowcharts and other graphical techniques), you cannot assemble a system regardless of how well you can program. There are also project planning techniques like Gantt Charts, PERT, and CPM to express planned work dependencies, schedules, and precedent relationships.

* Priority modeling tools - to keep track of objectives in priority sequence. This is also referred to as "To Do lists" or "Punch lists." Regardless, the intent is to make people cognizant of objectives and their priorities, thereby assuring workers are accomplishing the proper tasks in the proper order.


If we do not understand or appreciate the need for something, we tend to avoid it, but that is not the excuse here. We all have at least a rudimentary idea of what simple planning can do for us, we just balk at doing it.

We fail in planning not because we lack the proper tools, there are actually quite a lot of them available to us, but simply because we lack the discipline or desire to do so. Rather, we prefer to wait until disaster strikes so we can blame others for our problems and hope they can bail us out.

Like it or not, planning represents work. It is also something many of us are not disciplined to do, regardless of how simple it is to perform. We can rationalize why we do not plan all we want, but in the end, it is because of one thing, plain and simple: we are lazy.

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...

"Remember, it's Ready, Aim, Fire; any other sequence is counterproductive."


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 find signatures to be rather interesting. With a few swipes of the pen, we can commit ourselves to financial transactions, insurance and medical support, purchase or sell a house or car, or simply endorse something such as in a petition. Signatures actually carry more weight than the spoken word, particularly in a court of law. Despite the significance of signatures, it is interesting to see how poorly we typically write them.

Our signatures begin to deteriorate as we get older and face the fast-paced demands of adulthood. I used to kid my father about his "turkey tracks" penmanship, but as I've gotten older I wonder if mine is any better. I try to be legible, but I'm sure there is still room for improvement.

Men tend to have the worst signatures. They are either written in Morse Code with squiggles, dots and dashes, or like a third grader with crayons, neither of which are comprehensible to the average human being. I would much rather they use an "X" or some other unique symbol as opposed to the spaghetti penmanship they offer.

Handwriting specialists believe our signatures say a lot about our character; for example, the more obnoxious or bolder they are, the greater the ego; the smaller they are, the weaker you are perceived. I wonder how such experts would diagnose John Hancock's signature on the Declaration of Independence? I get the feeling he wasn't exactly a timid or meek individual.

Women typically write better than men. It's nice to know somebody was paying attention when they were teaching penmanship in grade school.

I tend to believe signatures are a reflection of our commitment to something. If we take the time to make it legible, the more sincere we are about our commitment. The more cavalier we are with them, the less serious we are. Nevertheless, if you are having trouble writing a legible signature, I suggest you either take the time to brush up your penmanship or buy a rubber stamp that can clearly express yourself. I'm sorry, squiggles, dots, dashes, and crayons are hardly a way of writing an adult signature anymore.

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-mail from my "Pet Peeve" on "Marking Time":

An I.L. in Kansas City, Missouri wrote...

"Man, you barely scratched the surface when it comes to car names. Just think of all the truck models. Meet my son, Tundra..."

An M.B. in Clearwater, Florida (female) wrote...

"I must be a hermaphrodite, because I absolutely love The Three Stooges, and I also remember the make and model of every car I've ever had. Of course, I've only had four cars, so that's pretty easy. Yet, I also remember everyone's birthday, and not just family, but friends as well. On the other hand, I can't remember what I ate for lunch today, or even if I ate lunch at all. Five minutes after I finish reading a book, I can't tell you anything about it. I have become the Queen of the Post-It note! It's too bad we can't pick and choose what to remember and what to forget. That would be wonderful."

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

A D.T. in North Carolina wrote...

"Your pet peeve regarding handshakes and business introductions resonated with me - especially the "cool dude" archetype. One of my personal peeves is the "overzealous reuniter" - where, a person that you may have briefly met or interacted with greats you with the enthusiasm and excitement of a long-lost brother. Usually the extent of the preceeding engagement was a simple meeting in a more social setting, on a plane, or something equally inane. The part that peeves me is that the offending party is always oozing fake comraderie, and usually the only reason for the ballyhoo is to attract attention/recognition to them through being closely regarded by you."

A J.G. in Pampa, Texas wrote...

"I'm 25 years old and my dad taught me how to shake a man's hand when I was about 9. That might have something to do with the fact that the more rural parts of Texas still hold the handshake as the best method to judge someone's character, followed quite closely by the amount of eye contact. I know when I went to Denver for the first time, I thought everybody was a little weakling, even worse in the Phoenix area. It's just not something that people bother teaching their kids today. Maybe because they don't know how, or because they don't care. Or maybe they just assume they will learn elsewhere. Who knows?"

I received the following e-mails from my article entitled, "Change: What lies ahead?":

An I.L. in Kansas City, Missouri wrote...

"I think the next 20 years or so are going to be one hell of a ride. Climatic changes, more new technology, financial collapse, bio-terrorism, bio-fuels, genetic engineering, nano-technology ... the list goes on and on. It is going to be an interesting time to be alive."

An E.V. in Romeo, Michigan wrote...

"Too many people do not pay attention to news beyond what affects them today. They don't want to have to worry about what's happening far away from them and complain, instead, that the U.S. polices the world. In that case, looks like we weren't policing enough. Yet, people are again complaining that we're policing. Another crisis is coming that we might have been able to avoid."

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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