Chief Simplification Officer attributes

Do you think that such a role (a Chief Simplification Officer or Project Simplification Officer) is justified? If so, what do you think are the essential traits that this person would need?

I posed these questions in a recent article entitled, “Chief Simplification Officer,” so rather than just leave you with an open question, today I’d like to give my views on what attributes might be essential for the role and why.

Clearly a majority of OSS projects tend to be too complex to deliver reliably. What may not always be perceptible is that a lot of the complexity actually enters the system higher up the funnel and simply reaches the bottleneck that is represented by the OSS projects. Examples include too many products/bundles, too many product variables, too many competing objectives, network configuration variables, etc. OSS projects themselves also tend to throw additional complexity fuel on the fire unfortunately.

This is why I believe that the CSO needs an organisation-wide remit for simplification, not just within the OSS project (although the PSO role might be a good place to start). The CSO needs to have the persuasiveness and influence to counter the change-averse arguments that will surely arise (eg when telling the marketing team to constrain their product / bundle offerings or telling an engineer to constrain their network/service design variables).

I also believe that this role must reside on the customer’s side, not the vendor/integrator side because the inputs to the funnel (eg functional requirements, network under management, product/service offerings, procedures/bureaucracy, etc) almost all originate from the customer. Not only that, but the essential ruthless subtraction projects can only be initiated and implemented through significant customer-side effort.

Anyway, back to that list of attributes:

  1. Influence throughout the organisation (as discussed above)
  2. A broad understanding of the people / process / technology / contracts that drive the organisation – in particular an understanding of the essential elements that contribute to the success of an organisation (see this post for detailed examples)
  3. A Bruce Lee-like attention to detail in hacking away at the unessential
  4. Curiosity and a brilliance for developing incisive questions
  5. An anti-bureaucratic mentality to ensure that the role doesn’t add layers that get in the way of delivery, but clear a path to ensure delivery. This includes introduction of a fierce regime of elimination of unessential meetings
  6. A clarity of understanding of the user experience (ie for the CSP‘s customers as well as internal teams that are impacted by the OSS and related processes)
  7. A desire to establish programs of ongoing benchmarking and continual improvements. To quote Bruce Lee again, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times
  8. An inspiring leader of change
  9. I’m sure there are many more that you can come up with so I’d love to hear your thoughts

The attributes above point to the fact that only someone with a very unique and special set of talents is likely to be able to do justice to the role and not just clog things up further.

Do you know anyone who is currently performing such a role or is capable of doing so?

Read the Passionate About OSS blog for more.

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