Information Systems
College of Business Administration
University of Missouri - St. Louis
The Chick's New Coat

Once, there was a young chick. Freshly hatched out of the egg in the chilly April, she longed for a nice coat. So she went to see Rabbit, the tailor. "I want to order a warm coat," said Chick. "Easy enough. I can make one right away for you! It won't take me long. What kind of coat do you want?" asked Rabbit. "I am not really sure. I have never had a coat before," Chick answered, puzzled. Rabbit hopped on a piece of paper and started to sketch. "How about something like this?" "It looks very comfortable, but it's too drab." Chick thought for a moment and smiled, "Could you embroider it with an Easter egg pattern?" "A wonderful idea!" Rabbit exclaimed and quickly added the pattern. "Like this?" he asked. "Yes! It's perfect." Chick was excited and spoke admiringly to the Rabbit. "You are a very quick and talented tailor, Rabbit. When can I have the coat?" "In three days, if I can get the materials right away, " said Rabbit proudly, "Another tailor may take three weeks to make such a coat for you."

For three days, Chick anxiously waited, then was told that her coat was not ready. "Why are you not yet finished? I saw how fast you had sketched the design." Chick was utterly perplexed. "Sewing is not drawing, Chick. It takes much longer to actually make a coat than to merely sketch one on paper. Besides, I have had some problems obtaining the necessary materials," explained Rabbit.

On the fifth day, Chick finally got her new coat. It looked just like the coat that Rabbit had sketched for her, but it was so big that she could not even walk without stepping on it. "This coat was for you?" Rabbit said, astonished. "I thought it was a gift for your mother. I have never made a coat for a chick. Why did you not tell me it was for you?" Rabbit could not understand why Chick was so upset. Disappointed and still cold, Chick went to see Turtle, the other tailor in town. Turtle said, "I will make a coat that fits you perfectly. I never rush to start right away. It is important for me to understand exactly what you desire before I begin." Turtle's words comforted Chick greatly. She knew that this time, she would get a coat she could actually wear. Turtle measured Chick carefully and wrote the measurements in his record book.

In the following days, Turtle patiently taught Chick the terms and definitions concerning sewing and design, so Chick could describe more accurately the coat she desired. Chick was amazed at all the special terms used just to design and sew a garment. She tried her best to cooperate, even though that meant she had to give up all her playtime. Finally, she was able to describe the coat using the new vocabulary Turtle had taught her. Turtle was very happy now that he finally understood what Chick wanted without having to worry about misinterpreting her. As Turtle thought hard about Chick's coat in the following days, he realized that Chick liked the Eastern egg pattern because she was born in April and because she missed the warm egg in which she used to live. Turtle was excited about his discovery and suggested adding a candy pattern and warm colors to the design. "Now you will like it even better because it reflects the inner you!" Turtle exclaimed, glad that he had chosen Psychology as his elective in design school. Everyone always said Turtle was no ordinary tailor. "Great. But when will I get my new coat?" Chick asked. "I cannot guarantee a date, but when you get it, it will be exactly what you want!" Turtle said, confidently.

Turtle spent two days redrawing the design and even documenting how he had created it. It took two days for Turtle to receive the materials he ordered. Three days after Turtle began making the coat, Chick passed by the shop to chat. After looking at the design, she said suddenly, "I don't like this pattern any more. It's all baby stuff." What Chick really wanted now was a pattern of flowers, blue sky and white clouds. "This is your last chance, I will not change it again." Turtle warned.

Another week passed before Turtle had finished the coat. "Try it on, Chick. I have tailored it exactly as you have described it to me, omitting no detail." Turtle beamed at his fine work. "You can call me Hen, now, "Chick replied, "It is undoubtedly beautiful, but spring has past, and the days have become so hot, even without a coat! Besides, look at all these new feathers that have grown on me! Furthermore, it is too small. I have grown so much since you last measured me!"

So Chick never got the coat of her dream. All she wanted now was a shade to hide under.

Moral: Despite Rabbit's quickness and Turtle's meticulousness, neither was able to effectively serve his customer. The fast-growing Chick never got what she wanted in the fast-changing weather. The most dangerous thing about RAD or other speed-centered development is to implement a design without properly collecting and analyzing user requirements. Even with the aid of prototyping and JAD, many user requirements can be overlooked if certain analysis steps are omitted to accelerate the process. On the other hand, traditional methods of analysis and design (especially when coupled with over analysis) are often too slow for fast-changing businesses and their environments. Even carefully analyzed and designed systems are rendered useless if they take too long to develop. The most important, yet most difficult, challenge in system development is to find the degree of analysis necessary and to balance speed with accuracy.

These stories are adapted examples written in my class, IS 6840 (formerly MSIS 488).
© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.

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