As the king of the forest, the lion had to make sure that a drought like that of the last dry season would not catch his kingdom unprepared ever again. So, he came up with a plan and held a meeting with the rest of the animals to let them know. "My dear subjects, we need to be prepared for the next drought and we need to start working on a plan before the rainy season comes through and harvest time is over. There days from today we will gather again so that you can present your ideas, and as an incentive, whoever comes up with the best system of storing food for those unpredictable times will be my advisor, replacing my brother, who as you all know died last month. If you have any questions to ask you may stay behind, otherwise you are free to go."
The animals were very excited because being the king's advisor meant being the second most important person in the kingdom and that also meant a very easy life and a chance to be in Lion's good books. Anansi who had been unusually quiet throughout the meeting left immediately it was over, not even bothering to "chit chat" as he saw it. He thought to himself, "I have to win this, I must win this, I will win this. It will be proof that I am the smartest spider in the country. Hey, what am I saying, I am the wisest animal in the world and therefore this should be very easy. Anansi had always got by in life by trying to outsmart everyone for everything he ever needed or wanted. Well, as the king's advisor, life would be even easier. "I absolutely must have this," he thought to himself.
So when he got home, he went straight to the drawing board and starting working on his ingenious plan. On the second day, he realized he had run out of water. On his way to the well, he met his neighbor the snail. After going through the customary greetings that Anansi kept thinking he had no time for, snail told him she had just come from the king's palace. Anansi with his ever-suspicious mind and thinking he had missed out on something asked her why she had been there. She told him she had gone through the draft of her plan with the king and now needed to revise her plan. So, they said their good byes and Anansi hurried to get his water. He could not believe it what a waste of time, going back and forth when it was obvious what needed to be done. This was gong to be even easier than he thought. "These people can't even get this little thing right. Really, how difficult can this be?" On his way back, he met more animals going to and coming from the king's palace to ask more questions. "This is just unbelievable, I am definitely meant to be in a better place. These ones are way too dumb for me to live amongst."
On the third day, Anansi, decked out in his finest kente cloth set out for the king's palace. On his way he met his neighbor the snail and they journeyed together to the king's palace. Everyone was there when they arrived and there was not a single person who was shabbily dressed. The king finally came out and presentations started. One after the other the animals put forward their ideas. Some with models of their food store plan, other with blue prints, all trying very hard to impress the king and sell their ideas. Anansi purposely waited so that he would be the last to unveil his grand plan. He needed to see what everyone had done, all the while thinking, good, impressive but not brilliant. Finally it was his turn. He started by telling the king what an honor and sang the king's praises for a few more minutes. It was important that this be done right. He then proceeded to unveil his plan. He proposed building a huge silo that could store all the food they would ever need right in the middle of the village-square (pulling down the old meeting hut that was already there), presented a design of the silo and even purposed being in charge of the building project. He also went on and recommended which animals were to be put to work on the silo and those who would gather the food. He felt very confident when it was all over. He was the new advisor, let the good times begin.
It was now Lion's turn. He thanked everyone for their effort and then announced the winner. It was the snail. She had won according to the Lion because her plan had involved using the old hut in the village square, fixing it and dividing it into sections for all the animals so they could store their food in. Since all animals did not eat one type of food, a silo would not work. They needed to use an already existing structure because harvest time was near and they would not be able to build anything from scratch.
You can imagine how surprised and furious Anansi was. He had been beaten by a snail!
Moral: It is very difficult to assume the needs of a client and be able to build the right system. The snail was able to give the king what he needed because in her sessions with the king she was able to determine how soon this was needed, what resources were available and what needed to be done. I n designing a system for clients, it is not sufficient to assume based on what the client initially says he wants from the proposed system. To design a perfect system you have to take into account who the end users are, what their needs are and what they will be using it for. By going back and running through the prototype with the king, snail was able better to design a system more suited to the needs of her client.
These stories are adapted examples written in my class, IS 6840 (formerly MSIS 488).
© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.