“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.”
Whether working for the OSS vendor, the CSP or the enterprise, the best OSS consultants share many commonalities with innovators.
In The Innovator’s DNA, five “discovery skills” are identified that distinguished innovators from non-innovators. These same five traits are necessary for OSS Consultants.
- Innovators ask questions that challenge the status quo.
- They observe the situation to identify new ways of doing things.
- They network with people who have radically different backgrounds and perspectives.
- They experiment with new ideas and experiences.
- These behaviors trigger connections or associations which would not have been otherwise identified.
The best OSS consultants don’t bring a one-size-fits-all solution to a situation, but act as conduits, providing connections that would not have existed otherwise.
These “connections” could include the following and many others:
- Helping a CSP to identify their most important needs and aligning that with a vendor solution of best fit from the multitude of available OSS solutions
- Understanding an organisation’s desired future direction and/or outcomes and then plotting a path through the maze of options (eg road-mapping, naming conventions, data modelling, etc)
- Bringing a diversity of project and product expriences, both good and bad, that can provide a predictive insight on a current (or future) situation such as risk analysis, resource planning, contract negotiations, etc
- Familiarity with better-fit processes or technologies that existing stakeholders aren’t familiar with
A consultant should leverage the best of the existing knowledge of the stakeholders involved because they provide the bulk of the context of the situation, often derived through many years of experience working in that particular organisation or environment. In this sense, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery if the consultant uses much of what already existed.
However, the best OSS consultants will append new insights and connections to the existing context that are of great value and would never have been otherwise formed.