The madness of most OSS training

When you’ve just implemented a new OSS, what does the training look like? A 2-3 week classroom course series? A train-the-trainer series, which then trickles down to the workforce?

If this is what your OSS training looks like (or even closely resembles), then this is madness. Unfortunately, this is the model that I’ve seen most predominantly in the wild. Many OSS build contracts / RFPs even mandate this type of knowledge transfer.

It’s madness because classroom courses don’t tend to be very good for absorbing the context or nuance of using an OSS. OSS training tends to be generic, without the local context of using the customer’s process flows, naming conventions, device types, topologies, services, etc.

Alan Weiss articulates this well, “…skills building occurs best when it includes application on the job, oversight by immediate supervisors, accountability for implementation, and rewards for success. None of that is accomplished in a classroom.”

What are the better alternatives then? Embedded training including:

  1. Have the customer operatives deeply embedded in the implementation project, absorbing knowledge in “real” situations as it is being built
  2. Offer supported sandpit environments that reflect PROD (Production environments) and allow operatives the time to build scenarios from their own contexts in the sandpit
  3. Provide handover support, where the installation team is on hand to support operational teams during an initial period after handover
  4. Master classes where operatives ask questions within their specific contexts, noting that this technique is only suitable after students have already developed a significant base of knowledge

Whilst PAOSS offers virtual class-based OSS training (which are generic by nature, not product-specific), I’ve found embedded knowledge transfer is far more successful and is my strongly recommended approach.

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2 thoughts on “The madness of most OSS training

  1. Flashbacks to the start of my OSS career in 1999 – A 21 year old running traditional training courses on the brand new Creamer Systems roll-out.
    I think I learnt a lot more than the people in the room – I learnt about how people are resistant to change, uninterested in new processes, and uninformed by senior stake-holders about why they are even there with me…

  2. Sadly so true James. The thing about situations like you describe is that even if the technical solution was perfect, the project was destined to struggle because of the people side. The lack of change management on some of these projects…
    I can vividly relate to your story.
    You must’ve come away with some great learnings on how to do it better??

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