Core Value: Tenacity
Curt Carver's thoughts on Tenacity
An essential component of any ITS professional is tenacity. Almost every project we undertake has uncertainty and the potential for unexpected setbacks. It is not because of a lack of planning – it is simply the nature of our very complex and often time-compressed business. The ability to work through these setbacks, to persevere and achieve success, is tenacity. Some will argue that at the highest levels of academic leadership, tenacity is the most important attribute of a successful leader.
This argument originates from the precept that many have good ideas but few have the tenacity to take those good ideas and persevere to the point that the good idea is implemented. It is a lesson for all agents of innovation – everyone has ideas but real leaders and innovators must have the tenacity to see those ideas through to fruition.
Finally, tenacity means taking care of yourself and your subordinates. I know that sounds odd but real change occurs over time – it does not happen overnight. I cannot tell you the number of leaders who arrive in a combat zone and burn out in 30 days because they are working 18 hours a day and not taking care of themselves. They became ineffective for the remainder of their tour. During those highly stressful times, the ability to engage in physical activity, read a book, and over time get enough sleep became critical in their success. The most successful soldiers maintained a healthy tension between work and self and achieved a balance between the two that in today’s modern world remains elusive for most.
“Tenacity is a pretty fair substitute for bravery, and the best form of tenacity I know is expressed in a Danish fur trapper's principle: The next mile is the only one a person really has to make."
The GeorgiaVIEW Team — Tenacity in Action
The ITS GeorgiaVIEW Team provided an example of tenacity when Blackboard, a product that enables universities to host classes online, released a security bulletin announcing a vulnerability which allowed a student to view a course’s full grade book by manipulating the course URL.
Although the vulnerability was limited to viewing grades and did not involve the ability to change grades, this was still a serious security concern. When the security bulletin was released, GeorgiaVIEW was in the midst of testing a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) applet error patch which was planned for application within a week. But clearly, the security patch took precedence. While Blackboard provided a patch to correct the reported vulnerability, the GeorgiaVIEW Team needed to verify that the patch would work and also verify that the vulnerability existed for GeorgiaVIEW users.
Blackboard’s policy is not to reveal specifics of security vulnerability so as to attempt to limit potential exploits. However Ezra Freelove, one of the GeorgiaVIEW database analysts, identified two potential URLs and successfully replicated and confirmed the issue. That same day, the GeorgiaVIEW team verified the vulnerability, applied the patch to a test environment, and verified the fix. Maintenance windows were successfully scheduled with campus representatives in a very short timeframe and the update was applied during the regularly scheduled maintenance period.
During the next week, the GeorgiaVIEW team completed testing the JRE patch and began applying it during regularly scheduled maintenance times. Although this patch resolved errors that were only annoying and not performance affecting, the optimal experience of the GeorgiaVIEW user is the team’s highest priority. Barry Robinson, interim director of the GeorgiaVIEW functional team adds, “The team has done a great job juggling multiple initiatives all while adapting to the departure of Doug Hyche, [the former director of GeorgiaVIEW]. I’ve been very impressed with their hard work and dedication.”
The GeorgiaVIEW team is comprised of a nine member team, who provide GeorgiaVIEW functional support to 31 campuses as well as three database analysts on the GeorgiaVIEW technical team, and draws upon the talents of ITS employees in Network Support, Systems Support, Strategic Communications, and the Project Management Office.
In addition, the team includes the 108 GeorgiaVIEW administrators in the University System of Georgia and more than 60 agents at the Presidium Learning Online Support Center who provide support for faculty and students using GeorgiaVIEW Vista.
When the Going Gets Tough….
Integration team — formerly PeopleSoft Human Resources Management Systems (PS HRMS) — exemplifies tenacity in how they handled the transition from PeopleSoft HRMS to ADP. The task of the team members — Layne Hammock, Christy Todd, and Jordan Thomas — was to transition core payroll and human resources support functionality to another USG support team at the USG Shared Services Center. While human nature might lead one to consider such a transition as unfavorable, this team showed incredible character by putting aside their personal views and working diligently to help make the transition as seamless as possible.
As with any transition of this magnitude, the complexity and volume of work is overwhelming. The team never gave up. They spent, and continue to spend, countless hours working with campuses and the Shared Services Center to convert and validate data and to provide expertise about processes and procedures for the transition. The team has spent untold hours travelling to various locations to participate in transition meetings and activities. Frequently, the work demanded of this team goes unnoticed as they willingly work quietly behind the scenes to support the transition.
Several customers were so impressed with the team’s accomplishments that they provided the following kudos:
Lee Fruitticher (VP Business Affairs, Gordon College) — ADP/SSC Project GL subteam co-lead: “Your team’s contributions to this project were invaluable. You were able to help us translate what the folks at ADP were saying and writing. Your knowledge of how the System operates was key to implementing this project. Jordan and Christy were very responsive even during tight deadlines. They have a very positive can-do attitude that is much appreciated. Who knows where this might have ended up without your involvement?”
Kim Thompson (Controller, Georgia Southern) — ADP/SSC Project GL subteam co-lead: “I do not think we would have made it in the project without you, Jordan, and Christy. Most of the time, you were the only voices of sanity. You have the interest of the USG and the institutions at heart and you are all very professional.”
Anita Sales (Director Human Resource Operations, KSU) – ADP/SSC Project – HR subteam lead: “In a nutshell…this project would have collapsed without your involvement.”
Cliff Williams – ADP/SSC USG Program Director: _“You, Christy, and Jordan have been nothing less than STELLAR and have added a tremendous value add to the team in Sandersville…The leadership assistance and guidance you have provided to both Bryan and me throughout the project in navigating us through USG waters cannot be underestimated. Things may have been bad during and post implementation…but it would have been much worse without you