Test Sponsors and the Pocketknife that Saved a NASA Mission

On November 15, 1995, Chris Hadfield had a problem.

He was the Canadian astronaut traveling aboard NASA’s Atlantis space shuttle, which had just docked to the Russian Mir space station for a five-day mission.

Hadfield was unable to open the Atlantis hatch to enter the Mir because, days earlier, NASA engineers at Cape Kennedy had sealed it too tightly.

“So,” says Hadfield, “I did the true space-age thing: I broke into the Mir using a Swiss Army knife. Never leave the planet without one.”

Over the years, the term “Swiss Army knife” has entered popular culture as a metaphor for utility and adaptability. The knife itself is a mandatory tool aboard every NASA flight.

Two blades, a toothpick, scissors, a screwdriver…and much more

Victorinox is the company that manufactures the Swiss Army knife. In 1891, founder Karl Elsener landed a contract to design and fabricate a versatile pocketknife for the Swiss Army.

Today, Victorinox is the largest manufacturer of pocketknives in the world, producing 25 million of the red-handled marvels every year.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, pocketknife sales were banned at airport duty-free shops resulting in an overnight, 40-percent drop in the company’s worldwide revenue.

But Victorinox was prepared.

In the early 1990s, management had recognized the peril of relying on just one product.

It responded by launching a staged expansion of its retail line to include kitchen cutlery, luggage, flashlights, watches and fragrances that now collectively account for 60 percent of all global sales. In 2019, the company posted revenue of $497 million.

The wisdom of offering multiple products

Kryterion offers multi-modal test delivery (four test-delivery options) so that sponsors can provide greater flexibility and convenience to their candidates.

The past 12 months have proven that multi-modal delivery is also key to preparedness.

At the beginning of spring 2020, who would have foreseen that within the span of eight short weeks, 80 percent of testing centers worldwide would be closed?

Online-proctored (OLP) testing became the only option available for delivering exams at scale.

It allowed many Kryterion clients to pivot from test-center delivery to online-proctored delivery and continue testing with minimal downtime.

Multi-modal test delivery is a metaphorical Swiss Army knife. It offers flexibility, adaptability and convenience. It also insulates sponsors and candidates from the impact of unexpected test disruptions like pandemics.

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