Monday, June 30, 2008

July 7, 2008


There's a new management philosophy underfoot in this country, spurred on by young I.T. people who resist any form of structure and discipline. Basically, organization charts and job descriptions are being thrown out the door and companies are beginning to experiment with what is being called "flexible management." The concept here is to transfer certain responsibilities which have traditionally been implemented by management and allow the workers to determine such things as corporate priorities, and what projects they want to work on. This appears to be a trend resulting from the Information Technology sector as opposed to other types of companies and, if successful, I'm sure you'll be hearing more about it in the years ahead. Frankly, I'm not going to hold my breath.

This philosophy, which I refer to as "Socialistic Management," represents worker empowerment taken to the sublime and a revolt to concepts such as micromanagement where the worker's voice is neither solicited or heard. Actually it is very much akin to "Matrix" organizations and the "Project Team" concept of yesteryear which promotes flatter organizations where workers work on a variety of assignments with different people. The big difference though is that the workers are dictating corporate policy and direction, something unheard of in most companies today.

The cause for "Socialistic Management" is rather obvious as people have grown weary of the autocratic/beancounting approach to management over the last twenty years. In particular, young people want more freedom to express their creativity, particularly in I.T. It shouldn't come as a surprise, therefore, that this is closely related to Agile Methodologies in I.T. which is a maverick approach for building programs based on a similar philosophy to project governance.

From the worker's point of view, "Socialistic Management" represents freedom and a sense of ownership in the company. From management's perspective, it represents less control over corporate direction and execution of project assignments. "Socialistic Management" also seems to promote teamwork but de-emphasizes leadership (since it is the workers who collectively dictate direction). Consequently, this means project assignments are smaller which can be implemented more quickly. What seems to be missing though is an overall architect to assure plans fit together, otherwise everything will be disjointed. Historically, management fulfilled this role, but not so under "Socialistic Management." I consider this omission of corporate leadership as the Achilles Heel to this approach. It is fine for small things, but it has yet to be proven effective for anything of substance.

The theory behind "Socialistic Management" is that superior results will be realized by relinquishing control to the workers. Personally, I believe workers should be empowered to perform their work (a bottom-up philosophy) but overall corporate direction and planning should remain in the hands of those who have a global view of what is going on, namely management. Without such a blueprint in place, consistency will suffer, and workers may tackle the wrong assignments regardless of how popular they may seem.

So, should companies give "Power to the people"? Some, but most definitely not all. I tend to see "Socialistic Management" as a knee-jerk reaction to the stranglehold workers felt from micromanagement. Frankly, I see the two, "Socialistic Management" and micromanagement, as two extremes on opposite ends of the spectrum, neither of which I personally recommend to anyone.

Regardless whether you refer to is as "Socialistic" or "flexible," this management philosophy should not be implemented simply because it is hip or cool and appeals to our youth. Instead, it should only be used if it has been proven to work. So far the jury is still out.

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...

"Manage from the bottom up; not just from the top down; this creates personal commitment and accountability."


Folks, be sure to check out our eBook on management entitled, "The Bryce is Right! Empowering Managers in today's Corporate Culture." This is a frank and candid description of the state of the art in management and includes essays on the problems in management today, along with some pragmatic advice on how to deal with them. Basically, this is a condensed course in management. As such, it is suited for managers, either those aspiring to become a manager or for those who need a refresher course. It will also be of interest to young people entering the work force, and is excellent for college curriculums.

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We have also produced a one-day training program of the same name. For more information on both the eBook and course, please visit our web site at:

While there, look for our MS PowerPoint presentation describing both the book and the training program.


The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on the decline of men wearing dress ties to work. They quoted a Gallup Poll that said the number of men who wear ties every day to work last year dropped to a record low of 6%. I'm not sure I agree with this number but there is no doubt ties have greatly diminished in the business world. I still put one on when I'm dealing with a customer and I do so as a sign of respect for the other party. Today it seems the only people who wear ties are politicians, newscasters, attorneys, doctors, and corporate executives, all of which do so as a sign of authority. And maybe they're right.

Historically, learning to tie a tie marked a young man's passage to manhood. But I don't think there are a lot of men in the workforce who know how to tie a tie anymore, which I consider a little strange. Most newscasters know how to properly tie a tie, as do attorneys. But I'm starting to see politicians with sloppy looking ties. And will someone please show Sen. Obama how to tie his tie; it looks like a lousy clip-on.

In addition to how a tie is tied, I learned a long time ago the length of the tie and its relation to the belt buckle is important. In theory, long ties represent excessive behavior, and short ties infer personal inadequacies. Every once in awhile you see a bow tie or a western string tie, but I think they are worn more for a giggle than anything serious.

The tie used to be the perfect present for holidays such as Father's Day or Christmas, but most of the time we got a tie we wouldn't be caught dead in. This resulted in closets full of ties we never threw away in fear we might offend someone. For example, I probably have a couple dozen ties in my closet, but I only have three that I regularly wear. I also have ties for special occasions, such as the Christmas holidays. I also have one representing my family's Scottish Clan. But my favorite is one my father gave me years ago; It shows a series of small jackass' sitting down with the following small letters underneath each one, "Y.C.D.B.S.O.Y.A." Translation: "You Can't Do Business Sitting On Your Ass." It makes a great conversation piece.

As I said, I don't know if I agree with the Gallup Poll's 6% figure as I am starting to see people starting to wear ties again, particularly salesmen who use them to spruce up their image in front of customers. Frankly, they look much more professional than the typical corporate Polo shirt.

Now I know a lot of young men will read this and still be adamantly opposed to wearing ties but as I said earlier, it is a sign of respect. If this is of no interest to you, I'm sure you'll continue to wear whatever you want, but for those of you who are interested in making a positive and professional impression, perhaps its time to go into the closet and pull out a couple of ties.

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 "Pet Peeve" entitled, "The Pope's Visit":

An M.O. in San Diego, California wrote...

"An insightful and intersting article. Well writtien with many interesting points. My grandfather used to always wonder why the priests in eastern Europe could marry and those in the USA could not. He, too, wondered how a celebate, unmarried priest could give marriage advice."

A D.N. in New York wrote...

"Don't forget if a divorcee has enough money and the time, they can get their marriage anulled. It seems the more years you were married the higher the price of the anullment. I know of a couple that were recently married in the church after they had their marriages of 20+ and 30+ years anulled. In fact, both prior marriages had children, so what does that make those children in the eyes of the church?"

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

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

"I agree, meetings, as a rule, suck rocks. This is especially true when the Pointy Haired Boss is running the show."

A D.S. in Orlando, Florida wrote...

"We have meetings about having meetings."

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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This is Tim Bryce reporting.

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




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