OSS flight simulator

Firefighters naturally swap stories after every fire, and by doing so they multiply their experience; after years of hearing stories, they have a richer, more complete mental catalog of critical situations they might confront during a fire and the appropriate responses to those situations. Research shows that mentally rehearsing a situation helps us perform better when we encounter that situation in the physical environment. Similarly, hearing stories acts as a kind of mental flight simulator, preparing us to respond more quickly and effectively.”
Chip and Dan Heath
, in their book, “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.”

In yesterday’s post, we spoke about how deliberately practicing the things you can’t do (yet) is the differentiator between Olympic-level ice-skaters and good ice-skaters.

This reminded me of the Heath Brothers’s book, which discusses techniques to reinforce learning (amongst other things). The quote above is one of my strongest recollections of a book I read over a year ago, partly because of its relevance to OSS.

As per yesterday’s post, we typically don’t spend much time on deliberate practice in OSS and ICT in general. We do tend to swap stories though, just as firefighters do. There is an opportunity to combine these two features with an OSS flight simulation tool.

Network Operation Centres (NOCs) tend to require staff with a medium to high level of technical proficiency, but they also tend to have a relatively high level of turnover as staff seek more prestigious technical roles within their organisation (or outside it). This means that the team’s collective knowledge is often transient so more effort is required to keep learnings within the team.

The idea is to take staff from medium proficiency to expert-level through deliberate training via an OSS flight simulator, using scenarios that they have not yet experienced. The OSS flight simulator is only as helpful as the scenarios that are built into it so it needs an extensive library to play back through the various OSS tools that the operators use. Stories from experienced operators are helpful, but they don’t generate real data streams to process.

The simulator needs to be able to either:

  • Record past events from the network that have high-value learning characteristics;
  • Have scenarios modelled by experts; or perhaps even
  • System-generated scenarios by machine learning tools that are constantly evaluating the network under management.
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