Gathering requirements like a Woodcutter

There once was a woodcutter working hard cutting down a tree. Suddenly a leprechaun appeared and started yelling stop stop.

The woodcutter looked at the leprechaun and started smiling : “Are you going to offer me a pot of gold if I quit cutting down your house ?”. The leprechaun frowned and replied “off course not silly, leprechauns don’t live in trees ! I live in a beach house in Miami, but I do want to make you an offer.”

The leprechaun made the following offer:

If you promise you will give half of your winnings to charity, I will let you win twenty million.

The woodcutters first thought was that he was not going to give away ten million. But thinking a bit harder he came to the conclusion that he just was offered ten million and he should accept the offer as fast as he could. So he started picturing what his wife would say when they would have won the ten million. Humm wait a minute, I won’t be able to convince my wife to give away ten million. So he asked the leprechaun if he was allowed to tell his wife about the deal. The leprechaun agreed.

If you and your wife will give half of your winnings to charity, I will let you win twenty million.

So the woodcutter started picturing again how he and his wife would celebrate the ten million tomorrow or the day after. Hummm the leprechaun did not say anything about a date. So leprechaun when is this going to happen ?. Oh sorry said the leprechaun I cannot commit to a date, it will be in your lifetime. The woodcutter thought hard and did not find this very acceptable, suppose he was already going to win twenty million, was the leprechaun going to cheat him out of ten million ? The woodcutter strongly suggested that the leprechaun would give a date, the leprechaun finally agreed.

If you and your wife will give half of your winnings to charity, I will let you win twenty million before the end of this year.

The woodcutter started imaging again about spending all those euro’s. Hummmm the leprechaun did not say anything about euro’s. So leprechaun what will the currency be ? Oh the leprechaun could not really tell, it was a matter of what lottery he could manipulate and negotiations with other leprechauns. The leprechaun and the woodcutter discussed this a bit and came to a new agreement.

If you and your wife give half of your winnings to charity, I will let you win about twenty million euro’s, remaining after being converted form the original currency, before the end of this year.

Learning from the discussion so far the woodcutter did not start imaging anything but he started analyzing the agreement and the word ‘about’ started to feel a bit funny. What would happen if it was nineteen million nine hundred thousand, would he still be required to give half ? And what charity ? He could start his own foundation for the needy woodcutter. After three days of negotiating they came to an agreement.

If you and your wife give exactly half (rounded down) of your winnings to a charity of the leprechauns choice. The leprechaun will let the woodcutter win at least twenty million euro’s, remaining after being converted from the original currency, before the thirty first of December this year at midnight. The wife will not get her own amount but she shares with the woodcutter and if anything significant changes in the made agreement the woodcutter and the leprechaun will renegotiate the agreement.

The woodcutter went home a happy man. When he got home, his wife was mad for him being late three days. After some explaining she did not like the deal, she wanted half of the ten million. The wife left the woodcutter and the woodcutter went back to the forest to renegotiate.

The wife lived happily ever after.

When making agreements consider your organization, time, cultural differences, measurability of requirements, changes in the environment, personal viewpoints and as much as you can think of. Make the choices flexible enough to last and make them fast enough so you won’t be caught by design creep. Don’t exclude any major stakeholders.

About Kees Dijk

Husband, father and Software Architect at Sogeti. Loving my work and having fun while doing it. Interested in all the aspects of software development with a special love for Model Driven Development, Code Generation and Software production lines.

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KeesDijk

Husband, father and Software Architect at Sogeti. Loving my work and having fun while doing it. Interested in all the aspects of software development with a special love for Model Driven Development, Code Generation and Software production lines.

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