Appendix A Grannys puzzle

On the request of the first author (who was a member of the Committee) Hennes A.J. De Ridder (1994) wrote a fairy tale to make clear what his Ph.D. thesis was all about. The story illustrates so well that the separation of Design and Construct (D&C) is artificial, that we feel that it deserves to be added as an unabridged appendix to this book.

A Client's grandmother, who is fond of puzzles but who is too old for puzzling now, is celebrating her birthday. Client wants to surprise grandmother. He owns her favourite jigsaw puzzle of about 500 pieces (estimated). The Contractor is asked to solve the puzzle, paste the puzzle on a board, cut it in four pieces and send it to Client's grandmother. All to be done within 6 hours.

This can be considered a D&C project. A design process is a search process and can be compared to solving a jigsaw puzzle. The number of pieces can be seen as the number of requirements. The pasting and mailing can be seen as construction.

Two Contractors ('A' and 'B'), both specialists in pasting puzzles, are invited to bid. In order to estimate the price, both Contractors set up a working plan: (1) make the puzzle on a board, (2) put a board on the finalised puzzle, (3) turn the ensemble, (4) lift the puzzle board, (5) spread glue on the back of the puzzle, (6) put the puzzle board on the puzzle, (7) wait 5 minutes, (8) cut the edges, (9) cut it into pieces, (10) put the pieces in an envelope and (11) bring it to the mailbox. The working plan has two main phases. The first phase involves solving the puzzle, an activity which does not belong to the primary process and should therefore be done as fast as possible. The second is the pasting phase in which the 'real and risky' job should be done.

Contractor 'A' awards the contract with a very low fixed price. His time schedule is as follows: 3 hours for solving the puzzle (those puzzlers!) and 3 hours for the 'real job' (pasting, cutting and mailing). The most experienced poster of the company is appointed project manager and the organisational structure is sketched in Figure A.1.

Now the work can start. The Contractor is fully aware of the five golden rules for a successful production: (1) cluster elements according to location, material and process, (2) the more people, the more progress, (3) time pressure works, (4) competition is preferable (sub-optimisation = optimisation) and (5) no trials and certainly no errors! All team members are trained according to these rules.

However, the five golden rules for jig saw puzzling are: (1) clustering the pieces (colour, edges), (2) limit the number of puzzlers, (3) preferably no ex-

Figure A.1 'Granny's puzzle'

treme time pressure, (4) no competition between the puzzlers (sneaky shifts of difficult pieces towards neighbours) and (5) stimulate trial and error! Unfortunately, none of the team members has ever heard of these puzzling rules. They merely had a pasting education and specialisation.

After 3 hours, not even 20% of the puzzle is ready. The 20% refers to the easiest parts of the puzzle (edges and buildings). In a corner of the table a large number of pieces with identical colour (blue sky) is paced in front of a shy junior puzzler. The manager becomes a little nervous and walks around the table, calling his head office for eight extra puzzlers, which is materialised immediately. After 4 hours not even 30% of the puzzle is ready.

At this moment the pasting people start their job, because they cannot wait anymore. They take away the edges of the puzzle and other small clusters, which are pasted on the board. Implicitly the working plan has changed! After a while, it becomes apparent that the puzzlers did not put some pieces in the right place. Therefore, it is necessary to soak off some pieces. The organisation is chaotic and the state of mind of the participants is rather bad.

At that moment, Contractor's controllers count 700 pieces instead of 500 pieces. The project manager (out of his mind) grabs about 200 pieces from the table and throws it into the dustbin shouting: 'My contract covers a 500 pieces pasting job and not a 700 pieces pasting job. Not one piece above the contractual 500 pieces will be pasted!' However, after three hours of trial and error, it becomes apparent that the pieces in the dustbin are necessary to solve the puzzle.

Unfortunately, a lot of empty coffee cups have been thrown into the dustbin. The manager himself separates the puzzle pieces from the dirt, cleans the pieces and asks the Client for extra time and extra money due to the additional 200 pieces.

The Client is fully aware of this big problem and gives the contractor one extra hour. The Client, however, does not pay extra money, since the number of pieces was defined as 'about 500'.

After 12 hours the puzzle is ready and after 15 hours the puzzle is mailed. At that moment, Granny's birthday celebration has been over for a few hours already.

One month after the project is finished, the Contractor claims additional money, which is fully rejected by the Client. After two years the claim is put into arbitrage. The outcome is that the Client must pay 50%. With this outcome the project has two losers: (1) the Contractor who disturbed his own working method and delayed the puzzling activities by throwing away the 200 pieces, (2) the Client, who missed his goal (the birthday surprise) and who has to pay a substantial part of the Contractor's extra activities.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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