Monday, May 12, 2008

May 19, 2008


I've been watching with great interest the ten part series on PBS entitled, "Carrier," which provides a rare glimpse into life aboard an American aircraft carrier, the USS Nimitz. There are approximately 5,000 people aboard this floating four acres of military weaponry, and although the ship and technology are interesting, it is the ship's crew who are the real stars of the show.

Crewmen, both male and female, from all levels of the ship's military hierarchy were profiled. Many were interviewed as to what their background was and why they joined the Navy. To me personally, I found the interviews with the younger members of the crew (ages 18-22) to be particularly enlightening. Many came from middle class broken homes where the other members of the family were socially dysfunctional, suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction, and consequently becoming pimps, prostitutes, thieves, and wife/child beaters. Time and again, crewmen spoke of how the Navy gave them structure and purpose in life. They found such things as discipline, organization, and accountability, to be some very powerful and beneficial concepts. They also thrived in an environment of teamwork where it was necessary to put aside differences and work towards the common good. As a result, they felt less like aloof individuals and more like a real family with a sense of belonging. They would frequently use the expression, "Work hard - play hard," representing their philosophy to teamwork. With this foundation in place, the crewmen found confidence in themselves, assumed responsibility for their actions, and confidently responded to challenges. Instead of drifting through life aimlessly, the Navy gave them the ability to chart a course in their personal lives, something their parents failed to instill in them. In other words, the military forced them to grow up by teaching them the meaning of adulthood.

Some time ago I discussed the need in business for "Parenting Management," that due to a decline in parenting skills at home, teachers, coaches, and managers were being forced to play surrogate mothers and fathers. We may not like it, but unfortunately it has become a fact of life as many misfit parents have abdicated their responsibilities. Not surprising, I find "Carrier" as an endorsement of my thesis that we have to do much more in the business world to help young people grow up and take their proper place in society. Since their biological parents have dropped the ball, it now defaults to the manager.

In a nutshell, the lessons from "Carrier" are simple; with rare exception, young people both want and need direction, organization, discipline, and accountability. Although they would never admit such going into the Navy, these simple parental skills are what the young crewmen actually respond positively to.

In the final chapter of the show, the producers interviewed a young crewman who told a story of going back and visiting his recruiter following Boot Camp. "What did you get me into?" he asked the recruiter who, in turn, raised his hand and said "Where would you be right now if you weren't in the Navy?" The crewman blurted out he would be hanging out with his friends getting high ("Did I just say that?" he said). He glanced back into the eyes of the recruiter who simply said, "You see?" And, of course, the crewman did.

Maybe there is something to the concept of having all young people serve in the military for a few years following high school.

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...

"Most children are raised by amateurs, not professionals."


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 am writing this Pet Peeve on behalf of a good friend on mine who runs a small family restaurant specializing in breakfast and lunch. He tries to run a good business, charges a fair price, and generally keeps his customers happy. His breakfast meals include the usual variation of eggs, pancakes, etc. His luncheon menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, and soup, all of which is freshly prepared and actually quite good.

What disturbs my friend though is the constant changes to the meals ordered by his customers. Please keep in mind we are not talking about a gourmet restaurant that charges heavily for its meals. Instead, it is an affordable restaurant offering basic comfort food. He doesn't mind the simple changes like extra onions here and there, a slice of cheese, or a certain grain of bread. He also offers a variety of condiments to season your food to taste. But lately it seems his customers are requesting more and more changes to the meals, many of which causes the cooks to change the basic meal into something totally different (and not shown on the menu). Although he tries to honor all requests, the changes are getting very much out of control. For example, a hamburger is not just a hamburger anymore, a salad is not just a salad, and a sandwich is not just a sandwich; Now, everyone wants it "their way" (which is an expression developed by the folks of Burger King). Although Burger King only deals with burgers and other basic fare, my friend's restaurant offers several different things on the menu, which really complicates life in the kitchen, particularly on a busy Sunday morning.

Think about it, when you go into a retail store you either buy an item on display or you don't, there is no talk of tailoring it to your needs. But the preparation of food is an area where we not only expect the meal to be custom-tailored to our needs, we make obnoxious demands to change the food accordingly. Keep in mind, the cooks are under no obligation to change the meal; they are well within their rights to simply produce the meal as listed in the menu. Nonetheless, they try to keep the customer happy.

But the changes have become so obnoxious that my friend is seriously considering charging an extra dollar for any changes made to the meal. Frankly, I can hardly blame him as I have watched the mayhem in his kitchen caused by the many change requests. I've even seen my friend blow a fuse on more than one occasion while working in the kitchen under such conditions.

As I see it, my friend's choices are to either cease and desist all changes (and let the customers buy what is on the menu), or start charging extra for it, neither of which will be popular with his clientele. In other words, he is being put into a no-win situation. Then again, he could always start a class-action lawsuit against Burger King for their harebrained "have it your way" campaign which appears to have caused all of these problems in the first place.

As bad as the harassment of constant changes is, it pales in comparison to when a person comes into the restaurant and commandeers a booth for hours at a time to leisurely read the newspaper or conduct his personal business, while only ordering nothing more than a cup of coffee or glass of water. I love the look on the faces of patrons impatiently waiting for a table while these insensitive clods bide their time reading the funnies or filling out their 1040 form. I guess I should be grateful that my friend doesn't wear a gun to work.

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 article on "Why We Resist Planning":

A D.B. in Tyler, TX wrote...

"Planning is a lot like organization, like cousins in the same family. It takes time to get organized, but it is time well spent. It reminds me of a sign I once saw posted, "Organized people are too lazy to look for stuff."

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

An M.H. in Pennsylvania wrote...

"You forgot to mention one very important potential side effect, "Use of this drug could result in a massive heart attack or stroke, resulting in certain Death! Should you die, don't say we didn't warn you, we did." ;o)

Maybe they should all just state, "We will not be held responsible for ANY side effects, which are too long to list here, so take at your own risk". That would about cover just about all liabilities."

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

"Have you ever noticed that every single drug includes the potential side effects of headache and stomach upset? Including ones for migraines and stomach acid? My favorites though, are the ones where the side effects are actually worse than the condition being treated."

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

An M.D. in Athens, Ohio wrote...

"How about the scrawl doctor's write when issuing a prescription? I think these guys actually turn it into a contest as to who can write illegibly. Makes you wonder how the pharmacists correctly fills the order."

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.

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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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