OSS pyramid scheme

Most pyramid schemes have a bad name, but I have one for you today that is actually helpful to all involved.

As we know, (almost) every organisation in the OSS industry is constrained by a shortage of talented resources that know the organisation’s specific solution intimately. In some cases, the shortage leaves individuals as single points of knowledge and single points of failure. This is not good for the organisation or the individual.

The OSS pyramid scheme overcomes this problem. The idea is to stop the individual from doing what they do so well (eg coding, architecture, sales, etc) and giving them a person or team to train up. The new person or team becomes the second layer of the pyramid. In time the second layer picks up more capability that they can then pass onto the third layer.

Meanwhile the initial person can focus on ever higher-value activities… if they can be convinced to step away and dedicate the time to building the team. This isn’t always easy, especially since not everyone is a natural teacher.

Unfortunately, not every organisation has the luxury of inserting new staff to build the pyramid though.

This pyramid approach is not so common in our industry as organisations seek short-term wins by hiring into the top of the pyramid rather than building from beneath.

It’s a significant challenge. What are your ideas on how to best overcome the skills shortage prevalent in our industry?

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