Information Systems
College of Business Administration
University of Missouri - St. Louis
Trying To Get Home

The possum lost his way home because of recent flooding in the forest. While searching for his house, the possum came across a hawk, so he asked her for help. The hawk happily obliged and immediately took flight over the rugged terrains with the possum sitting on her back. The hawk possessed sharp eyesight and could clearly see the ground and landmarks below, a trait that was honed by surveying the land for several years. The possum, on the other hand, was not so visually gifted and could not make out the shapes below, so he settled back and provided the best description he could provide of his house. Because his eyesight was not so strong and the roads below had been flooded out, he did not try very hard to see what the hawk saw. The hawk's reserved nature and inability to hear the possum over the high-altitude winds only exacerbated the miscommunication. The hawk was so skilled at flying over treetops and mountains and navigating around hills and valleys with such ease that the possum was thoroughly impressed. After they had been flying for quite some time, however, the hawk grew tired and frustrated while the possum started getting airsick. The hawk finally landed and let the possum descend from her back. Without saying much, the hawk assumed that where she had landed was the possum's home based on the possum's description during their long flight. The possum was all too relieved that he was back on terra firma. After thanking the hawk and bidding her farewell, the possum began walking around, sniffing here and there while surveying his immediate surroundings. Suddenly, it dawned upon him that the area smelled vaguely familiar. "Wait a minute!" the possum exclaimed, "This is where I originally started before asking the hawk for help!"

Moral: Sometimes one must walk with the possum to see what he sees, or what he cannot see Take to the air only when necessary. Systems analysts must resist the temptation of approaching a problem that suits their strengths. Half the battle in systems analysis is listening and sometimes "walking" with the client to really understand what the problem really is. Just feeding the client with board overviews and technical wizardry will only suit your needs in addressing the problem and not necessarily the client's.

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

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