“Jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than master of one”
When it comes to the OctopOSS, the Jack of all Trades tends to be the only one capable of bringing all of the pieces together. In the modern world of increasing specialisation, it is easier to find (or replace!) someone with skills in a single domain (eg programming, transmission networks, service management processes, the list is endless) than it is to find someone with cross-domain skills (ie knowledge of programming, communication network technologies, inventory management and service management, etc).
Yet, specialisation doesn’t make sense to me as it is the perfect example of the law of diminishing returns. A generalist can quickly get up to a highly competent level of 80% (assuming the use of Pareto’s 80/20 rule), but each additional percentage improvement thereafter is increasingly difficult, approaching (but never reaching) an asymptote of 100% perfection.
It is the cross-domain experts who have the ability to connect the various domain experts and the customer to create a more seamless business solution. They are a rare and valuable breed. More effort is needed to create, teach and evolve more of these resourceful individuals in the OSS community (at vendors and CSPs).
As information becomes commoditised, it is the cross-domain visionaries who can see connections, innovate, predict, diagnose and identify dependencies where the domain specialists may not.
The cross-domain experts are also more adaptable to the ever-changing needs of the OctopOSS and are not left behind when a specialist’s technology is superseded. It is their confidence in adapting to different situations that prevents the stagnation that comes with a fear of failure. Having a knowledge of many pieces of the OctopOSS puzzle will also tend to make the cross-domain expert have more empathy towards each of the domain specialists.
They are the lynchpins and interestingly no organisations I’ve come across have more than a few.