Ask forgiveness later

It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”
Grace Hopper.

There are many barriers to delivering an OSS, often built up from the rules of the organisations involved. Sometimes the rules make sense. Other times, rules (and the people responsible for enforcing these rules) just prevent progress.

The best implementers I’ve worked with are great at finding lateral approaches to get around barriers and rules.

A friend and colleague of mine once sliced around 2 years from a project schedule through a single calculated risk (one that I wouldn’t have had the courage to do I must admit). In a complex network roll-out, a key location was in a difficult position to reach. A utility had an existing duct-run directly to that location and had ample room in the duct to support further cables. An official approach to the utility for access to the duct was declined. Roadblock 1.

Analysis of alternatives revealed that creating a similar duct run would require at least two years of planning and permissions. Roadblock 2.

Following alternative paths would’ve added hundreds of thousands of dollars onto the project cost. Roadblock 3.

My friend’s solution?

As project leader, he simply requested that the cable placement team run their cable through the utility’s duct. He then connected service and informed the utility that he was to commence paying the standard annual lease fee for use of their duct. Naturally the utility was furious and threatened to take his organisation to court. Uh oh…. Our hero appears to have come unstuck.

But he had an ace up his sleeve. The jurisdiction in which he worked had a clause that no active telecommunication service is allowed to be cut except by Supreme Court Order.

The utility backed down and are still accepting lease payments for this cable being in their ducts.

Would you have made this decision?
What are the massive calls you’ve made to get around roadblocks on your OSS projects?


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