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

Sasha the squirrel had a problem. She hurt both her paws and would be stuck lying in her tree home until next spring. Sasha had not hidden her nuts to ensure she had an adequate food supply for the long winter, and she would not be able to do anything strenuous. To solve this problem she enlisted the aid of Felix the fox. Felix was the cleverest animal in the forest and surely they would be able to help her! “Oh Felix, I've broken my paws and I can't possibly hide my nuts! If I don't do something I shall surely starve!”

Felix was as kind as he was clever, “Fear not my friend, I shall hide your nuts for you, and you will have plenty to feast on until you recover!” Relieved and grateful, Sasha went to rest while Felix got to work. Sasha was certain she now had nothing to worry about. In the coming days Felix used his cunning to dig and bury nuts in the most obscure places deep below the surface, and hide them in the tallest, most difficult to scale trees. Certain that he had outdone himself, the fox confidently returned to Sasha. “I'm back my friend; your nuts are well hidden.”

“Oh how wonderful, you are truly a marvelous friend. Tell me, where did you bury them?” The fox cheerfully informed Sasha of all his hard work, but the more he bragged the more ashen Sasha became. “But Felix, I can barely move, how am I supposed to climb those tall trees or dig that deep!” Felix paused; he had not considered Sasha’s impairment when hiding the nuts, he only considered how best to be clever and hide them where they would not be easy to find. Sasha was upset, but not panicked. She was friendly with the neighbor Possum, he would not mind digging up the nuts and putting them in better locations. “Ok, it’s alright Felix, just give me the map of where you hid the nuts and my friend will put them in better positions for my convenience.”

The fox stared in confusion, “a map?”

“Yes, how else would I know where you hid them?” Now Felix was truly panicked, he had thought that Sasha would want him to be clever so that only someone else clever would be able to find the nuts, and surely no one was cleverer than him? No one would be able to steal Sasha’s nuts now, he didn't even remember where he hid them! He hadn't thought of how she would need to find them. Now truly panicked Sasha was working herself into frenzy. “If the nuts are hidden so far and deep that I can't reach them, and you don't have anything showing where they are, how am I supposed to feed myself!?” Felix had no answer to that question. Sasha’s winter suddenly felt a lot colder.

Moral: When considering a solution to a system’s problem it is important to make sure that the solution is technically feasible. If the client does not have the technical means to support the solution, then the solution is not at all feasible. In the above example, Felix’s solution did exactly what Sasha needed, hid her nuts, but she did not have the means to support its implementation. This story also highlights the importance of good documentation when creating a solution. Clients need to be able to understand and see everything the analyst is doing in the event that they have questions or need to do modifications on the solution at a later point in time. By not including documentation, in this fable, the map, clients may end up being unable to perform necessary maintenance/upgrades to their system at a later date. Analysts must include good documentation in their system solution for the client, or the client may end up in trouble down the road.

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

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