Inveniam viam aut faciam.
“I will find a way or make one.”
I first heard these words as the motto for a school, the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Md., one of the many excellent establishments that I chose to educate my children during our ‘nomadic years.’
I found the phrase’s sentiment very striking, suggesting determination, courage and creativity, virtues that are valued in all facets of life. Moreover, the sequence of the words also reflected another important principle, one that, arguably, is more significant in determining ultimate success: pragmatism.
Finding a way, with the implication that it already exists, that someone else has taken the trouble to create it, comes ahead of making one—wheel re-inventors need not apply! I researched the origin of the phrase, and was surprised to learn that it was not a product of the motivational poster industry. But I kept calm and carried on, discovering that it was Hannibal the Great who coined this phrase, his response to his generals who counseled that it would be impossible to cross the Alps with elephants.
It was Hannibal the Great who coined this phrase, his response to his generals who counseled that it would be impossible to cross the Alps with elephants.
We have taken Hannibal’s attitude to heart recently at Vitalyst, albeit in rather different circumstances: his an arduous, forced march, in pursuit of military goals; ours an intellectual ramble, in pursuit of knowledge and insight.
We sought to understand, indeed to quantify, the relationship between end-user proficiency with their software tools and the productivity of their organization. We readily found a strong body of evidence of two relevant factors: firstly, a positive ‘macro-economic’ correlation, that IT is a major potential contributor to overall productivity, both within organizations and at the aggregate level ; secondly, a negative ‘micro-economic’ story, that only one in 10 workers see themselves as expert users, most rating themselves as low or basic, their ‘digital inefficiency’ with such everyday elements as documents, email, search and messaging the equivalent of wasting two hours each day.
With these two bases in place, we anticipated that we would identify an existing model, bridging between the effort to increase end-user proficiency, the resources (time, dollars, attention) needed to ensure more comprehensive adoption, and the resulting organizational productivity gains. We looked at many sources, including academic research and points of view from leading software providers, several showed initial promise, but all ultimately failed to make the key ‘causality’ link.
Not finding a way, we decided to make one. We had a trove of data under our nose: our records of millions of end-user proficiency interventions and the benefits reported by our clients. We established a collaborative team, bringing together the different insights of software professionals, service delivery specialists, marketers, researchers and analysts.
The team reviewed the data, put forward hypotheses, tested them, refined them, discussed and debated different interpretations, shared their ideas with clients, illuminated the concepts with words, illustrated them with graphics, before arriving, breathlessly, on the definite approach. Nothing quite like an imminent deadline to quicken the creative process.
So, at this week’s Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago, we are delighted to launch the Vitalyst Productivity Multiplier Model. It offers an important framework for understanding the connection between end-user proficiency and organizational productivity, and for improving both. It is intended to be an open approach and we will welcome additional contributions as we develop and refine the model.
Thanks to all involved in putting it together… and to Hannibal for the inspiration!