Over the weekend I began reading Heda Margolius Kovaly’s book, Under a Cruel Star. My fingers have been burning across the Kindle with this almost unbelievable reminder of what life was like in Czechoslovakia during the post-war up until 1968. History books, especially one so recent, put everything – everything – in better perspective. Any of you who are old enough to have spoken with relatives from central or eastern Europe who have memories of 1939 and onward have an inner ‘reset’ button that kicks in whenever work, taxes, building permits – whatever absurdity that life throws at you – seems to become too much. You know that this is a picnic compared with life in many, many areas of the world, and many ages that have proceeded ours.
This book in particular is like a shot of Atropine to the thigh when dealing with processes like the Magic Quadrant. Aside from how much the subject takes one down-tempo, one also reads of the massive disinformation about the beauty of life in a socialist / Communist society that Czech’s returning to the county after the war disseminated to their friends and family. It was a lie told for complex reasons.
And the tie-in to the Gartner Magic Quadrant? As an analyst, I have lost count of the number of times that a businesss executive has moved from one software vendor over to a rival, and suddenly the floodgates of flaws and imperfections about the previous company’s software and management pour out. The tales of intentional sowing of misperception and misrepresentations just about numb the senses.
In 1958, for the Spring edition of the Paris Review, Ernest Hemingway was interviewed by George Plimpton, and they spoke about the art of writing, and about how to find the essential truths. Hemingway answered, “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.”
Whenever I’m asked why the “MQ Process” chews up so much time, I think of Hemingway. In order to get a position on a vendor and the product right, the analyst needs to listen to many sources. Integrators, consultants, sales execs, vendor management, end-users of the product and services, competitors, other analysts, more end-user customers, IT leaders from the inside who have the war-wounds from standing up a quality system. Somewhere in the interstices lies the truth, and we are grateful to all of you who participate so generously in providing us with the impressions, data, information that are needed to arrive at a quality assessment on a Gartner Magic Quadrant.
OK, this week we will hold our Gartner BPM Summit, and I hope to see some of you there!