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

Once upon a time there was a shoemaker that lived in Tiny Town. The shoemaker was the only shoemaker in the town, so he made shoes for everyone in the town. As time passed, Tiny Town began to grow. This made the shoemaker's job a little more difficult for him, so he decided to work six days a week instead of five so that he continue to make the shoes for everyone in town. Tiny Town continued to grow and grow until the shoemaker could not work enough hours in the week to meet the demand for shoes for everyone. As a result, the shoemaker began to pray each night for a solution to his problem. After many weeks and months of working 18 hour days and praying at night, the shoemaker was visited by the queen shoe fairy. The fairy knew of the shoemaker's problems from listening to his prayers, but she sat and listened to the shoemaker explain his problem.

The fairy said that she had a solution for the shoemaker's problem and told him to go to bed and he would find the solution in his shop the next day. The shoemaker awoke the next day very excited to see the "solution", so he skipped his breakfast and went straight to the shop. When the shoemaker arrived in his shop, he found this large machine sitting in the middle of the floor. He walked around and around the machine to acquaint himself with it. He began to push buttons and pull levers but nothing happened. The shoemaker checked to see if the machine was receiving electricity, which it was but he still could not get the machine to work. After hours of attempts to get the machine to work, the shoemaker pushed the machine to the side and began to make shoes. He had wasted hours with this machine and was now farther behind in his work than he was before.

Years later, the fairy came to visit the shoemaker again. When she arrived, she discovered that the machine was sitting in a corner of the shop with a tarpaulin thrown over it. She went to see the shoemaker and asked him why the machine was in the corner and not being used. The shoemaker told the fairy that he was sure that it was a fine machine, but since he did not know how to use it, all it did was take up valuable space.

MORAL: One may design the best system in the world, but if the user does not know how to use it, the system is worthless. Do not forget to train the user.

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

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