The Old Medicine Man|
This is a true tale. There used to live in our village a man of medicine. He was a peasant. He was not different from any other peasants in most of village ways, but he had a secret that no other peasants did. The man knew a secret formula to concoct an ointment that was reputed to be quite effective in combating a severe local disease. He was illiterate and never had any formal training in medicine. No one is sure how he got the secret formula. Thanks to the formula, the man was quite well off.
To prevent pirating, the man would sell placebos along with the real concoctions. And the treatment had typically had to go through a number of iterations. S no one was sure exactly which ointment made the difference. And fearing that his only son was not mature enough, the old man never told his son the secret formula until it was too late. And since the disease was quite local, no concerted effort on the part of the government to procure the formula was launched during that time.
One summer day the old man was found comatose under a tree. His family tried frantically to revive him. Finally the old man woke up and beckoned his son to fetch the various ingredients. I guess he wanted to show the son how to make the real concoction. But before he finished, he again elapsed into a coma and never woke up.
The son apparently wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father. But he did not dare to experiment with people's lives. But the worse thing is that an effective local medicine was lost forever.
Moral: In systems analysis and design, adequate documentation is essential.
These stories are adapted examples written in my class, IS 6840 (formerly MSIS 488).
© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.