Left to right… or right to left?

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
Dr. Seuss

As OSS architects, we often find ourselves drawing network diagrams and customer service diagrams don’t we?

When you draw such drawings, do you tend to draw the customer infrastructure on the left and the core network on the right, or vice versa? Or perhaps even top to bottom or vice versa?

I’ve noticed that the long-term, carrier network guys tend to start with the core network or carrier exchange (at the left or top), then draw out the network towards the customer premises. It makes sense. The network has always been the centre of their universe.

Conversely, services guys tend to draw the customer at the left or top then draw the circuit/service propagating towards the carrier network or core. To them, the customer is where it all starts.

This direction bias is sometimes so ingrained that it actually takes some people quite a bit of extra brain-power to interpret a drawing that is opposite to their natural way of thinking; to do a horizontal flip in their mind.

If you get the chance, take note of the way your audience deciphers network diagrams. Align to their thinking if you want to persuade or educate. Afterall, the confused mind says no.

What’s the centre of your universe – customers or network?

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5 Responses

  1. i usually see the network centric diagram with the most desirable components in the middle with not a lot of regard to the architecture or the process. Shouldn’t both be documented well?

  2. Hi Scott,

    Great to see you back!

    You’re right about most network diagrams being clouds/meshes with the most important stuff in the middle. I was thinking more along the lines of specific customer services such as point-to-point customer links but didn’t articulate this well. πŸ™‚


  3. Hi Ryan, I love the little rhyme, and without a doubt concur on your point about network-centric vs client-centric. I see what you mean about being like-minded. I am actually pushing hard in areas of influence to drive something that is called Importance-Performance. A concept propounded by a couple of researchers Martilla and James in 1977 and which I came across several years ago in my studies. The purpose is to align performance measurements with areas of importance to clients and not just by internal priorities alone. Subsequent versions of this called Extended Quadrant Analysis have been used to prioritise customer needs scientifically. I think the world of analytics will provide the necessary shift away from doing that alignment in Excel. But I’m working on a model to see if I can apply it to OSS in particular. Your original post around NPS has helped in that I can use that to create the anchor around Importance to client.

  4. Hi Seshan,
    I love the simple elegance of the Importance-Performance 2×2 matrix. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I can see exactly why you see the merit and power in using it in the world of OSS. There are always so many conflicting alternatives in OSS that it’s often hard to determine which to focus on.
    I think the interesting part about customer feedback is the reliability of the results. The customer might indicate a ranking in theory (stated preference), but then their ranking in practice doesn’t match (revealed preference). There was an anecdote I heard about a focus group finding that participants would be willing to pay $1,000 on average for a new gadget that was going to arrive on the market soon, but when offered the choice of the gadget or $100, all members of the focus group took the $100, which was a highly valuable finding from the study (BTW. I can’t find the reference right now, so the actual amounts might be inaccurate but “revealed preference theory” can be found here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revealed_preference πŸ™‚ ).
    Speaking of focus groups… https://passionateaboutoss.com/designing-oss-products-by-focus-groups/

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