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

Long ago, there was a kingdom called Weeville. The king of Weeville lived in a castle that was perched on top of the highest hill in the kingdom, miles from his subjects. Being a very busy king, and somewhat of a hermit, the king had not ventured from his castle to visit the subjects in his kingdom since he was a very small boy.

Being miles away from the nearest water source, it was difficult for the king's subjects to get fresh water to drink in the warmest of summer months. So, the king, who despite being busy, was very kind and generous, decided to present his subjects with a gift. He would build a water fountain in the middle of town from which his subjects could drink fresh water without having to walk down to the river.

To build this great water fountain, the king commissioned the best thinkers in town. The king gave the thinkers, who would not think of arguing with him, only three instructions to keep in mind while creating the first drinking fountain ever made:

1) The water must be fresh, pumped straight from the river.

2) The fountain must be placed right in the center of town.

3) The fountain must be very high, because he remembered his subjects as being exceptionally tall and he did not want any of them to hurt themselves bending down to reach the fountain.

The thinkers began right away. Before long, they came up with an ingenious system for getting the water into town. Although very expensive and time consuming to build, the king proceeded with the plans, and before long the world's first drinking fountain was built. Quite satisfied with himself, the king went to bed that night thinking about how his subjects must appreciate having such a a caring and generous king. He was, however, awakened from his sleep by the unpleasant sound of shouting an fighting.

One of the castle guards abruptly burst into the king's bedchamber. "Sire, I am sorry for waking you, but your subjects are storming the castle. They are very angry," he said.

Bewildered as to what might have angered his subjects, the king instructed the castle guard to bring in one of them so that he could inquire about the problem. A few minutes later, the castle guard brought in a man who announced himself as Harold. "Sire," Harold said, "I was asked to convey the town's disappointment with the drinking fountain you have placed in the middle of town."

Bewildered, the king replied, "Why, whatever for? That drinking fountain was very expensive, and took a very long time to build."

Sire," Harold patiently explained, "the villagers are angry because it is clear that the purpose of the new fountain is to provide your highness with fresh water in case you decide to visit the center of town."

The king told Harold that there must have been some kind of mistake, as the fountain was built for all to enjoy. To this, Harold quickly replied, "But that is impossible, sire, for it is known across the land that the tallest of the subjects in Weeville is a mere four feet tall. It is obvious to us that you must be much taller than four feet in order to reach the water fountain that you built."

Moral: Get the system users involved when designing a new system. After all, the users are the ones that must live with it why you are 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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© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.