OSS answers that are simple but wrong vs complex but right

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills…”
John F Kennedy

Let’s face it. The business of running a telco is complex. The business of implementing an OSS is complex. The excitement about working in our industry probably stems from the challenges we face, but the impact we can make if/when we overcome them.

The cartoon below tells a story about telco and OSS consulting (I’m ignoring the “Science vs everything else” box for the purpose of this post, focusing only on the simple vs complex sign-post).

Simple vs Complex

I was recently handed a brochure from a consulting firm that outlined a step-by-step transformation approach for comms service providers of different categories. It described quarter-by-quarter steps to transform across OSS, BSS, networks, etc. Simple!

The problem with their prescriptive model was that they’d developed a stereotype for each of the defined carrier categories. By stepping through the model and comparing against some of my real clients, it was clear that their transformation approaches weren’t close to aligning to any of those clients’ real situations.

Every single assignment and customer has its own unique characteristics, their own nuances across many layers. Nuances that in some cases are never even visible to an outsider / consultant. Trying to prepare generic, but prescriptive transformation models like this would seem to be a futile exercise.

I’m all for trying to bring repeatable methodologies into consulting assignments, but they can only act as general guidelines that need to be moulded to local situations. I’m all for bringing simplification approaches to consultancies too, as reflected by the number of posts that are categorised as “Simplification” here on PAOSS. We sometimes make things too complex, so we can simplify, but this definitely doesn’t imply that OSS or telco transformations are simple. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Back to the image above, there’s probably another missing arrow – Complex but wrong! And perhaps another answer with no specific path – Simple, but helpful in guiding us towards the summit / goal.

I can understand why telcos get annoyed with us consultants telling them how they should run their business, especially consultants who show no empathy for the challenges faced.

But more on that tomorrow!

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2 Responses

  1. I suddenly thought – maybe due to it being in the news – about genome mapping.

    Stay with me on this one… It could relate to OSS.

    So if a prescriptive approach to transformation is wrong for most CSPs, what would be the ‘tailored’ approach. In medicine, if you know the patient’s genome you can choose the right prescription. So can we characterize a CSPs in to CSP-genomes, and with that understanding, prescribe the right solutions?

    Ok, my analogy has run out there. But I can’t help but think that things like eTOM painstakingly define functions, but the same analysis is not applied to how the CSP operates.

    This is either crazy/poorly thought through, or some amazing original thought. I’m not sure.

  2. James, I can see that we share a penchant for thinking via analogies.
    I’m certainly no expert in the field of medicine, but I think we’re on the same wavelength.

    I guess it’s all a question of precision. I’ll extend on your great analogy

    The consultant’s report in question identified a category of males of a certain age bracket and racial background were all in an emergency ward. Based on that genomic classification, they were all diagnosed as being predisposed to suffering excema. The consultant sent them all home with topical creams… The only problem was that one had suffered a gunshot wound, another accidentally chopped his finger off with a chainsaw, another had appendicitis.

    The more precise alternative (as you’re suggesting) is that an individual is tested and shown to have a mutant gene and should be systematically treated with a course of medication to prevent onset of a specific disease. This course of action would apply equally to any of the 1% of the population who has that gene.

    Perhaps granularity is a decisive factor with your eTOM comment too. eTOM provides a great guideline for designing operational processes. If an organisation can constrain its variant tree then process diagrams are still viable at lower level mappings. However, as the modern variant tree branches out ever larger, it’s no longer viable. I also feel that a prescriptive process design constrains the ability for beneficial process mutations to appear and evolve further.

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