What really matters?

Eliminate the things that don’t matter, that you’re never going to get better at or that you’re already good at. What’s left are the places where you have the opportunity to change your position in the market.”
Seth Godin

In many ways, the quote above holds true for whether you’re a vendor, a CSP or an individual.

As an individual or organisation alike if you narrow your field of view to what you’re already good at the law of diminishing returns means that for every unit of additional effort you apply, you’ll get a progressively lower return. You may be getting closer to the asymptote of perfection, but what if that field is rendered obsolete by a new technology or method? If you’re a vendor, integrator or CSP and are already the market leader in that field, will a few extra refinements deliver any more earnings to your organisation or revenues at a suitable ROI or ROE? Alternatively, will the effort expended be more than made up for by savings made?

There are so many sub-fields within OSS, that there are likely to be areas that you’re never going to get better at , where for every unit of additional effort you apply, you’ll get a relatively lower return than others would. Whilst one of my degrees is in Computer Science, I know that there are so many developers who are far more proficient than me so it makes sense to leave the coding to others (except for the case of rapid prototyping of new products or features). If you’re working for a vendor or CSP, if you’re not within say the top 2 of market share in your niche (or have a realistic opportunity to be), then perhaps you should consider focusing on what your real points of leverage are, just like Jack Welch did after taking over as CEO of GE.

Then there are the things that don’t matter. These might be the features or skills that have been superseded or never even gained widespread acceptance in the marketplace. As such, any effort expended here will produce negligible benefit. If you’re a vendor, it makes sense to regularly evaluate the customer usage patterns of all features offered by each product in your product suite and cull the ones that nobody uses. They are just clogging up product/release/patch/support management and possibly even distracting curious users from what is important.

The remaining niches have the opportunity to change your position in the market , whether you’re an individual, vendor/integrator or CSP, because you will be able to derive a relatively greater return for the effort you expend.

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