Adapting to each customer

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”
Winston Churchill

OSS projects are usually delivered to organisations that have many working parts (people, processes, bureaucracies, politics, business units, etc). Rather than closely understanding and adapting to the company, a vendor has a tendency of bringing “best practice” to projects and thrust their standard delivery approach on the customer.

One particular project springs to mind. One of the world’s largest integration companies won the right to deliver a project to a Government-owned monopoly in a developing country that had never implemented an OSS before. The integrator’s delivery approach was definitely well formed from many years of experience, but it was quickly apparent that the approach was at odds with the carrier’s people and processes.

The integrator became more and more insistent that the carrier, the country’s biggest employer, should modify its organisation structure and way of working to meet the needs of a handful of integration resources. As the integrator’s staff became angrier and more arrogant, openly stating the carrier’s ineptitude, the carrier’s staff became more annoyed with the integrator and less willing to assist. Members of the carrier’s team confided in me that they were intentionally going to make the project fail so that the integrator’s team would be admonished by their hard-driving bosses in head office.

To use an analogy, the best teachers are able to modify their approach until they find a technique that suits the student’s way of learning. There is no “best practice” that suits all students. The vendor must find a way to deliver an outstanding solution within customer constraints, just as a great teacher finds a way of reaching each student within the constraints of their learning.

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