That’s somebody else’s job

One of the advantages of being a consultant is that you get to assist big corporates without being wrapped up in some of the big corporates’ mindsets.

Of course this isn’t true of all employees at big corporates, but I’ve found the, “that’s somebody else’s job,” mindset to be more prevalent there. In some ways it makes sense right – having a large group of employees means that there is likely to be someone with the title / responsibility to tackle almost any given task.

But personally, I’ve loved working on large OSS projects with smaller project teams because there are always activities that slip through the cracks. I’ve found these types of projects give the biggest opportunities to learn.

For example, back in my early days in OSS, I was a network SME who was assisting the data migration team. Unfortunately (fortunately) there was a change in personnel and I ended up inheriting the whole network modelling and data migration function. This provided the opportunity to design and model network inventory that covered 3000+ network elements, 200 SDH rings, 10 DWDM rings, 70 ATM switches, 2000 multi-service access nodes, 16 PSTN switches, more than 250 IP switches/routers, RAS, LMDS, DCME, DACS, VoIP and network synchronisation devices. There were well over 100,000 services modeled, across products including voice/PABX/IN, ISDN, ATM, FR, Leased Line, ADSL and other IP related services. Having an intimate knowledge of the data meant that I was increasingly called upon to architect solutions and even design product enhancements.

Now nobody would ever hire me as a coder (I can’t program my way out of a wet paper bag, despite having a computer science degree), but to get the above-mentioned job done, I had to teach myself SQL to manipulate, correlate and import large data sets. It was somebody else’s job to write code, but they couldn’t keep up with demand and got moved to another project anyway.

That was a very formative project in terms of my passion for OSS. Having a mindset of “that’s somebody else’s job” would’ve reduced my workload on that project immeasurably, but also would’ve prevented me from accessing the amazing opportunities I’ve been given since. A “somebody else’s job” mindset would’ve meant the cool opportunities that followed would’ve also become somebody else’s jobs!

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