Information Systems
College of Business Administration
University of Missouri - St. Louis
The Rabbit and the Turtle

Once upon a time in Animaland, the land of the animals, there was a yearly contest organized. Animals from all over the land would attend and participate. The rules were simple: you had to go from point A to point B in the minimum amount of time. Every year, the starting point and the arrival point were different so that no one could have a significant advantage by knowing the race path in advance. This year, the race was starting in Bear City. Bunny the young rabbit and Sleepy the old turtle decided to engage in this contest. Early in the morning, the day of the race, all the contestants arrived in Bear City. They were all given a map with the beginning Bear City and the destination, Turkey City, as well as the recommended path. This was a long race that would take all day. Bunny was bragging that he would be done by lunch. Sleepy was listening without paying too much attention. Sleepy thought that he would be lucky if he was done by dinner. Finally the race started, Bunny took the lead--he was so fast that Sleepy was far behind. Bunny was racing as fast as he could following the recommended path. After a few hours, while Bunny was crossing a deserted area, Bunny arrived in front of a deep canyon. He looked at his map and saw that there should be a bridge to cross the canyon. But he didn't find it and kept looking for the bridge. Sleepy was also heading toward the canyon. But Sleepy needed to take a break so he stopped at a local village for some refreshment. While drinking, he showed his map to the bartender, Maddy Cow, who told him that the bridge to cross the canyon was no longer in existence and that he would e better off going another way. Sleepy thought, "I should follow her advice." And Sleepy did. Sleepy went around the canyon. Around mid-afternoon Sleepy was finally arriving in Turkey City. Everybody was cheering him. Sleepy was wondering, "why are they cheering me? Am I the last one?" And finally Sleepy saw the finish line. The ribbon was unbroken; he was the first one! Bunny was still trying to find the bridge to cross the canyon.

Moral: First, a map or a blueprint in not the house; it is a simplification of the house so that it can be built. It does not always make sense to do everything the way it is written. A project manager should be able to step back from the blueprint/methodology in order to look at the reality. Second, experience helps because you do not overestimate your abilities. A junior consultant is more likely to set unrealistic expectations than an experienced one. Third, solutions are crafter through interactions with the users. If you do not take time to listen, you probably won't be successful because the sum of the collective knowledge is bigger than yours.

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

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