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

Ah, all was not well in the Kingdom of Beal. King Nicholas. Normally a very benevolent ruler, had one very strict rule: everything must be tidy. So the law of the land dictated those in the Kingdom of Beal must ensure all their trash is picked up and taken to the royal trash dump. King Nicholas knew his rather tidy nature was a little unusual for the 10th century (OK, it was weird) so, being the benevolent ruler that he was, he gave each of his subjects a trash box, had trash wagons made, and employed several of his subjects to pick up his trash. Because he did not think it would be too much of a burden, King Nicholas directed his subjects to put their trash in the box and haul it to the edge of their yard for pick up on a weekly basis. But his subjects were very unhappy and King Nicholas was beside himself. His subjects felt picking up the trash was too much trouble. He knew his subjects were following his edict only because of their love of him but he didn't want his subjects to become so unhappy that they would begin to hate him. King Nicolas sent for his three best knights, Winston, Stanley and Dudley. King Nicolas divided the Kingdom of Beal into three sections and directed each of his knights to address the trash problem in their section. The Knight with the happiest subjects would have his solution implemented throughout the kingdom and would receive his King's undying gratitude.

Sir Winston, considered King Nicolas's best knight, was a man of action and was known for his decisive nature and quick implementation of any plan. Sir Winston was not one who asked people for advice nor would he take advice from anyone. He had been in many battles defending the Kingdom of Beal and his proclivity for quick action was extremely beneficial I the heat of battle. Sir Winston's motto was what was good during battle was good in all situations. He took one look at the trash situation and knew immediately what should be done. Sir Winston instructed the subjects in his sections to dig tunnels from their house to a central trash dump. The subjects would deposit their trash in a hole in their house that lead to the tunnel, the trash would make its way to the central dump and the trash haulers would pick the trash up there. Well, this did not make the subjects happy at all. They didn't like digging the trench nor the hole in their house, and the stench from the trash stuck in the tunnel was unbearable!

Sir Stanley, however, was a little better than Sir Winston because he knew there were times for quick action but also times when you had to ask for advice. While he was willing to seek counsel from others, it was very important for him to ask the questions and the answers to be specific to the question. He asked the subjects in his section what they thought was so bad about picking up trash and they told him there was too much to manage once a week. So, he came up with the solution of having the trash haulers come three times a week. And, the subjects were very happy! King Nicolas, however, was very unhappy because the cost of hauling the trash tripled in Sir Stanley's section and became so expensive he thought he might have to give up his dream of a tidy kingdom. This would not do so King Nicolas was very hopeful Sir Dudley would come up with the solution that made his subjects happy.

Now, Sir Dudley believed in not only asking questions but was willing to ask the reasons behind the answers as well as continue to try to find all possible solutions. The subjects in Sir Dudley's section also said the trash was too much to manage once a week so Sir Dudley asked them what made it so hard to manage the trash. The subjects said the box began so full that they could hardly pick it up and it was too hard to push the trash box to the edge of the property. So, Sir Dudley had wheels put on all the trash boxes in his sections and the subjects were able to move the trash boxes so easily they began to like taking the trash out. The subjects were very happy but, better yet, King Nicholas was happy because he knew putting wheels on the trash barrels would cost money now but he'd only have to pay once.

So, Sir Dudley's solution was implemented throughout the Kingdom of Beal, making it the cleanest Kingdom in the 10th century and all throughout the kingdom were happy. King Nicolas was so happy that he gave his bright and talented daughter's hand in marriage to Sir Dudley. Sir Dudley and Princess Vicki lived happily ever after to a ripe old age in the Kingdom of Beal.

Moral: There are many morals to this story. First, you cannot perform proper system analysis without obtaining user input. Second, implementing a solution without this input means your solution is doomed to failure. Third, simply asking a question without finding the underlying reasons does not give you an opportunity to find several solutions for evaluation in order to find the most satisfactory. Fourth, an expensive solution may not be the best solution because it doesn't make the person paying the bills very happy. Fifth, users can help you find a solution if you are persistent in asking them for their input. And, finally, it is important to work your professor's name into a fable with the character having very good qualities but don't be too obvious about it.

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

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