The OSS inertia principle

Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its motion (including a change in direction).”
Wikipedia.

According to classical physics, Force equals Mass x Acceleration (F = ma). In other words, the greater the mass, the more force must be applied to reach a given acceleration (ie to effect a change).

Just as this works with physical objects, it also works with OSS (and organisations for that matter). The more massive, the more force required to initiate a change. Inversely, the less mass, the easier it is to move/change.

Continuing on from the blog on Transformational Change two days ago, I’m a strong advocate of significantly reducing your OSS‘s mass before commencing “transformational” change. The lower its starting mass, the faster it can accelerate into its next guise.

It is this same rule that allows smaller companies to be more nimble, just as large, complex OSS are very difficult to re-direct. The aircraft carrier analogy is one example on how CSPs with massive OSS can improve their flexibility, but I’d still advocate major reductions in mass (ie less management tools, less interfaces, less services, less customisations, maintain only the data that adds real value, etc).

Another interesting example is the potential to use sub-brands. For example, it’s common for large incumbent carriers to start up smaller sub-brands to tackle different segments of the market (particularly the lower ARPU end of the market). The mass of the sub-brand (cultural, workflow, bureaucracy and systems-wise) tends to allow faster acceleration of new products and systems.

I’m intrigued about the opportunity to innovate via the following implementation sequence:

  1. Proof of Concept
  2. Sub-brand
  3. Main brand

I’m equally intrigued about the potential to even shift products/services from the main brand across to the sub-brand after step 2 is complete. This could be really attractive if speed and reduced cost are significantly better under the sub-brand’s model. It also provides the potential to grand-father products from the main brand and reduce main-brand mass.

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