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

All of the animals of Pinkerton regarded Mother Hen as their leader and Mother Hen took pride in her ability to get things done. So when Mother Hen called an urgent meeting to discuss the need for a new food storage hut and asked for a representative from each of the different work areas, the animals did not hesitate to attend. She scheduled the meeting to only last 1 hour because she knew the animals were busy and they would need to return to their chores and families.

The meeting started well as Mother Hen explained that the rainy season was quickly approaching and that the animals needed to work together to create a new food storage hut to keep all of their food dry. The previous hut had been destroyed during a bad storm. She stressed the urgency of getting started on building the hut as soon as possible and everyone agreed that is was indeed an urgent issue. Mother Hen then suggested that they build a new hut similar to the hut they had built before since it had been a sturdy design made of split wood logs and had lasted for many years. She asked for input from the others on what materials would be needed and what steps would be involved.

Roger Rooster mentioned that he wasn't sure if there was enough cut wood to build an entire hut. Camella Cow suggested that straw bales were thicker than wood and would probably work just as well. Priscilla Pig voiced her concern that the new hut would look as ugly as the previous hut if they built it using the same design. Gabrielle Goose said that the previous hut's style had been OK but that the color they had painted it had clashed dreadfully with the surrounding trees and meadows. Danny Dog became upset because he had made the dye that had been used to color the previous hut. Gary Goat didn't care for Harold Horse and got in a dig about the previous design really was rather primitive. Mother Hen didn't care for the direction the meeting had taken and felt the discussion about the outward appearance of the hut was really quite pointless but she had been taught that it was important to let everyone have their say so she did not interrupt. They continue to debate the various merits of the previous hut's appearance until they had used up the entire hour set aside for the meeting. Once the hour was up, the animals took their leave.

Mother Hen sat there confused. She had wanted to discuss what materials should be used for the new hut and find out if the amount of materials they needed would be available. She wanted a list of the steps required to build the new hut. She had not wanted to discuss the aesthetics of the design or the color to paint the building. Worse yet, she had not received a commitment from any of the animals as to what they would do to assist with the project. Mother Hen sat there in disbelief and wondered what had just happened.

Moral: If you are the Project Lead, then you are responsible for keeping the meeting on track. You should state the agenda items at the beginning of the meeting, keep the discussion on track and document who is responsible fore each of the Action Items that are decided upon during the meeting. You should also follow up on the Action Items to ensure they get done.

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

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