A long time ago there was an automobile manufacturing company called Mord. Mord was a successful company that built many fine cars. They made big ones and small ones and red ones and blues. Mord had many loyal customers who were very happy with the cars that they produced. The cars that Mord made were always dependable and efficient and simple cars. The Mord Company grew and grew. In order for Mord to keep up with the growth they had to hire many new employees. They hired salespeople and accountants, and production managers and factory workers. And they hired new engineers.
One day some of the newly hired engineers became bored with making the same old cars. They wanted to make a new car model. They thought that they could build a much better car than the current models being built, after all the current Mord models hadn't changed their basic designs in a long time.
So the engineers convinced their boss that they should design and build a new car model. The engineers were very excited. They felt they were finally given a chance to show off all the great skills that they learned in school. So they worked all day and all night for months designing and building the new car model.
The engineers finally finished their project. They designed and built a new car model for the Mord Company. The engineers spent months working on this project and they were confident that they had made a product the people at Mord had never seen before. The engineers could hardly wait to show the finished product to their boss.
The day came when the engineers presented the new car model that they had built to their boss. They brought their boss in to the design floor and the boss just looked at the new car in disbelief, but not for the reasons that the engineers had hoped. The boss looked at the car and saw huge fins on each side, the top of the car was all glass, the engine was a new experimental hybrid, and the inside of the car was full of electronic gadgets. They called it the “Medsel”. The boss just said, “Well that’s a sight to see. Too bad I'm the only one who is going to see it!” The engineers seemed confused. The boss then went on to explain that this car would never sell to customers of Mord. As a result, this project will never be put into full production and the engineers had wasted months of effort.
The engineers tried to explain that the all glass top makes it easier for drivers to see and the fins were for stability at high speeds and that… The boss stopped them right there and he said, “Yes, all of your ideas are great. But the ideas are great individually. You put together a bunch of great ideas with no thought about the greatness of the overall project.”
Moral: The moral of the story is that the overall design of a project is completely dependent on the analysis that goes before it. If you spent the time in the beginning phases mapping out the right requirements and limitations then you have a much better chance of having a coherent uniform solution at the end. Not to mention clearly defining the problem you are solving should help you prevent the dreaded scope creep.
These stories are adapted examples written in my class, IS 6840 (formerly MSIS 488).
© Vicki L. Sauter. All rights Reserved.