Different strokes

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
Audre Lorde.

An OSS touches so many parts of a CSP’s business that it seems completely obvious (to me at least) that an implementation team needs to blend vastly different skills, personalities, traits, cultures and ambitions into a common set of objectives. But there are times when this doesn’t happen, where organisations or teams repeatedly hire the same personality profiles and end up with a lack of diversity of ideas.

Even narrow fields within the overall scope of your OSS can require vastly different personality types to prosper.

Take the example from my early days in OSS when I was assigned the role of subject matter expert (SME). I was helping an organisation to write interface specifications so that their developers could create mediation devices*.

We had a team of SMEs with vast amounts of experience in their specific domains of expertise. One was a colleague with a fantastic attention to detail in everything he did. He printed out every page of the voluminous vendor documentation for the device type that was assigned to him, approximately 5000 pages in total. Over the next few weeks he laboriously studied these guides looking for the code to unlock this mysterious interface. Eventually he had to admit that he’d read every page twice or more and was still drawing a blank.

I offered to take a look and within 30 minutes had found the keys to what we needed. By drawing up a couple of examples for my colleague, he was off and running on a marathon of a task that took the next few months to complete. A great achievement on his behalf.

I was able to see and communicate the big picture whilst he had the highly structured approach plus the perseverance to successfully complete this arduous specification. Two vastly different personality types were required to complete a single, highly specific task.

[Note: For those who don’t already know, mediation devices (or mediation device drivers – MDDs) are the pieces of software that allow the OSS to communicate with network devices, element managers, NMS and other systems via programmatic interfaces. To create an MDD, you need to know the exact command logic on the target device and you need to know the way the device is configured to operate in the network so that you can make sense of the collected data.]

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