Customer-facing roles

Last Friday I posted an article on “OSS resilience” that mentioned the need for resilience on OSS projects and how to measure it in your new hires. It highlighted the need for resilience in “customer-facing roles” in particular but I immediately realised the misrepresentation within this statement.

I’m sitting here wracking my brain but can’t think of any role that isn’t customer facing… it just depends on your definition of who your customer is.

The obvious customers are the ones that sign contracts with your organisation (the contract customer). That’s invariably the type of role that I’m engaged in BTW. But for the rest of the team that never sees the contract customer, such as some developers, I am their customer (the internal customer). They deliver products and services that allow me to deliver on the OSS contract.

The second perspective is that all roles should have the chance to see contract customers. Not necessarily to do their work under the contract customer’s gaze, but to meet them, learn of their needs / problems, watch how they use the delivered solutions, but importantly to build rapport and empathy for the customers (contract and internal).

If you don’t have this feel for what happens at the OSS coal-face (getting to genba), chances are you’re also disconnected from its needs and challenges,

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