Palace Driven Development

A poor man and a rich man wanted to roast a rabbit. The poor man lit a bonfire, put the rabbit on a stick and sat by the fire holding the stick. The rich man snorted at such a simplistic rabbit roasting: What if rain comes while I’m roasting? What if somebody attacks me and steals my rabbit? I need something much more professional!Burj al Arab (Dubai, UAE)

So he decided to build a small hut to protect his bonfire. He hired some builders, and they convinced him that such a dignified man needs a real stove, not a shabby bonfire. He also needed an elegant dining room, or else he’s going to eat his roasted rabbit sitting on the sand. They agreed on the price and set on building the house.

Meanwhile, the rich man decided that while he’s at it, a couple of other rooms would also be nice to have and asked the builders to add them. This led to a quarrel because the builders did not expect any changes and the construction was already under way. When they finally agreed that the changes are possible, the price they gave was much higher than the rich man could afford so even bigger fight ensued. Disgruntled, the builders left the construction site and both parties promised to sue each other.

Undaunted, the rich man found some other builders. They readily agreed to make the changes requested, and their price was acceptable (although higher than the original price of previous builders). Dancing Building (Prague, Czech Republic)They immediately started to get busy rearranging the half-built house, but kept complaining about how poorly the original builders built the house: they did not make any plans for the construction, the walls were skewed etc. These complaints were used to justify raising the price so after a while they were also fired and again they promised to meet each other in the court.

He hired another builders then, this time a renowned enterprise building company. Their prices were astronomical, but nobody else wanted to take over the construction at this point. Forest Spiral Building (Darmstadt, Germany)The enterprise company started differently: they sent several salespeople that agreed to every wish the rich man had, even catalogued them using strange words like “change request,” they also threw in some of their own ideas, produced a lot of agreements, documents, plans, charts, spreadsheets etc. What’s more, they insisted that the construction be “codenamed” and thus Project Palace was born.

House in the Clouds (Thorpeness, UK)Then they brought a lot of workers and started to rearrange the construction yet again. They were very proud of not using their own employees, but inexperienced workers called contractors, brought by yet another enterprise company. They could go on for hours on how cost-efficient this was: they could use and fire the contractors at will, although they were much costlier than standard employees. The rich man could not help but notice that the contractors were the same people over and over again.

The Crooked House (Sopot, Poland)Despite the seemingly very organized process, the inexperienced contractors could not improve the stability of the construction and their own works were of even lower quality. But they could not produce too much, because most of the time they were busy doing the paperwork of documenting their work and every change they introduced. They also had to report very precisely the time spent on various tasks separately for the enterprise construction company and enterprise contractor company.

Eventually, the day came on which they promised to do something they called “Launch.” The rich man thought they meant “Lunch” and was looking forward to finally being able to roast his rabbit. They invited him to a shaky hut they proudly called “Palace,” Errante Guest House (Chile)riddled with scaffolding and random objects propping the ceilings and walls. They led him to the kitchen. He tried to make fire in the stove and the room immediately started to fill with smoke. Thus was the first problem encountered (although the enterprise people insisted on calling it an “issue”). The man discovered that the original builders forgot to build the chimney and since they left no plans, all those who came after them did not care enough to figure that a chimney is necessary.

National Architects Union Headquarters (Romania)There were many other “issues” discovered and catalogued by the enterprise people. That took a lot of time because they needed to write detailed explanations what is wrong, what was expected, what is the priority etc. They did not worry about all the “issues,” instead they were very proud about their transparent process and honest and open communication. Before the man knew it he was signing something called SLA which basically allowed the enterprise company to charge a very high monthly fee for “maintenance and support” which was roughly equivalent to trying not to let the “Palace” collapse too much.

They started fixing the issues, but lacking the knowledge and experience they did it mostly in a trial-and-error manner. First they tried to fix the chimney issue by digging holes in the floor, but somehow the smoke would not escape through them. Making holes in the walls proved to be a little bit better, until a big hole in the ceiling finally fixed the issue for good.

Wonderworks (Pigeon Forge, TN, USA)Unfortunately, these activities were not without an influence on the stability of the Palace. Soon, the whole building was shaking and no amount of scaffolding and propping would seem to be sufficient. Being open and transparent, the enterprise people communicated to the rich man Ripley’s Building (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada)that a new project needed to be started, which they dubbed Project Stability. They explained that given the current state of the Palace, they need to focus on improving the stability and cease all other activities (except for “critical issues,” as they called it when a part of the Palace collapsed).

They also started talking about Project Rebuild: they proposed to abandon the current construction site and start building from scratch. This time, they promised, everything would be different: proper designs and plans would be made, milestones and deadlines would be set, best practices would be employed and the rich man would finally be satisfied.

Crazy Hotel (Bratislava, Slovakia)That was too much for the rich man. Screaming in anger, he ran away from the construction site. After a while he met the poor man, eating delicious rabbit by his bonfire. Seeing that, he screamed: I only wanted to eat my roasted rabbit, but now I’ll have to pay to maintain this “palace” for life!

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4 responses to “Palace Driven Development

  • R.A.F.

    LOL. Everywhere you can find footprints of others;)

  • Brix

    It’s funny because this is exactly what I am experiencing. Except I was one of the original builders and the only one left. We were forced into building an unsound structure by tight deadlines and micro-management and now the new contractors (who are inexperienced) are coming in and talking about Project Rebuild and ignoring all my advice.

  • Monday Links from the Subsidised Canteen Vol. LVIII

    [...] Palace Driven Development – Entertaining fable about large system development by szeryf, filled with relevant and amusing links. "They could go on for hours on how cost-efficient this was: they could use and fire the contractors at will, although they were much costlier than standard employees. The rich man could not help but notice that the contractors were the same people over and over again." [...]

  • Driven Development | dlutzy

    [...] PDD Palace Driven Development. A great fable about CSC. Catastrophic Scope Creep. [...]

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