Information Systems
College of Business Administration
University of Missouri - St. Louis

The Robin's Family and the Bird's Nest

There was once a pair of birds that had fallen madly in love and wished to start a new family together. These love birds (soon to be known as the Robin's family), wanted a fresh start together in a new nest in a beautiful tree they had spotted together on their first date- the tree had never left their hearts since. Mrs. Robin expected Mr. Robin to build the nest before she would join him. Although Mr. Robin was capable of building the nest in the tree, he had heard rumors that a master nest builder,Mr. Redbird, was in town. Wanting their first nest together to be perfect, Mr. Robin contacted Mr. Redbird to build the new nest for them.

Mr. Redbird, after receiving the message, flew to meet with Mr. Robin. "I need the exact details", said Mr. Redbird, "tell me exactly what you want from this nest, and I will build it for you". Mr. Redbird asked all the right questions of Mr. Robin: What tree do you want the nest built in? What position within the tree should I build it? What materials should it be made from? And on and on the questions went. Mr. Robin, it seems, wanted the nest at the very top of the tree, so as to enjoy the sunlight. To keep cool, he asked Mr. Redbird to make ventilation holes in the bottom of the nest. Mr. Robin also wanted nice soft materials around the edges of the nest to soften the quick landings, but harder materials in the middle to keep costs down.

Some time passed as Mr. Redbird put together his plans for the nest. He shared the plans with Mr. Robin, and Mr. Robin was very happy with what he saw. "Yes, yes", said Mr. Robin, "this is just as I imagined it. I can't wait to see the nest competed. How happy Mrs. Robin will be!" Mr. Redbird, excited to show off his genius, flew away to begin construction.

At each stage of the construction process, Mr. Redbird called upon Mr. Robin to look at the nest and provide feedback. Mr. Robin wanted some minor changes here and there, as Mr. Redbird expected, but overall Mr. Robin was thrilled with the progress. Once the nest was done, Mr. Redbird called on Mr. Robin to come see the nest one last time. Mr. Robin was happy with the nest, and paid Mr. Redbird his final payment, thanking him for his great work. Mr. Robin then called upon Mrs. Robin to come see their new nest.

Upon seeing the nest, Mrs. Robin was a bit distraught. "The nest is so high up, my dear! What if the eggs were to fall? Why, they would never survive!" she said. "And what kind of a moron would put hard materials in the bottom of a nest?" she went on. "Don't you know I have to sit there most of the day while keeping the eggs warm?" Despite her reservations, she was too excited to move in with her new love and accepted the nest. Soon enough, the Robin's family had eggs, and Mrs. Robin had a very difficult time keeping the eggs warm with the ventilation holes on the bottom of the nest. She kept pushing the eggs around the nest to get them in just the right place. Among all this activity, disaster struck and the eggs fell through the holes. Sure enough, the nest was too high for the fallen eggs to survive. Mrs. Robin was devastated and she left the nest, and Mr. Robin, forever.

Moral: It is not enough to gather requirements from a single stakeholder. All stakeholders must be taken into account, and the entire system's actions and goals must be considered when starting something new. If only some stakeholders are considered- as Mr. Redbird did in talking only to Mr. Robin- or only some of the functions of the system are considered- like Mr. Robin did in describing what he wanted- no one will be happy in the end.

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

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© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.