Do what today others won’t, so tomorrow, you can do what others can’t.”
Brian Rogers Loop.

There are so many ways to skin a cat, or in our case an OctopOSS. So many ways to configure it or build processes around it to meet the customer’s needs. But this is just one of many reasons why an OSS project can stagnate.

It was while working with a vendor on an international OSS project that certain dependencies on the customer were not being met, so the project was stagnating as a result. There were many reasons why, sometimes because there was disagreement on the “best” way to skin the cat, sometimes because the customer simply didn’t have the knowledge to make an adequately informed decision.

A technique that I discovered worked incredibly well was to be proactive and help the customer to make the tough decisions. Because of group dynamics, it is often difficult for a large project team to initiate so I found that it was much easier to provide a recommendation and allow the customer to counter or modify than it was to wait for them to initiate. In the short term it increased my work-load but in the long-term it definitely reduced delays.

An example might be a dependency on the customer’s preferences on formatting of a network health report for the vendor to create the report template. If the customer didn’t have a report format readily at hand, rather than wait for the customer to confirm the report requirements, I’d state a report format and then ask for feedback. It seems that it is easier for a person to comment on someone else’s work than it is for them to initiate a piece of work.

Since stumbling across this by accident, I’ve since taken this approach to many different countries and corporations.

Have you ever tried a similar approach and if so, how did it work for you?

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