The Three Little Pigs (Redux)

Once upon a time there were three little pigs who were all grown up and ready to strike out on their own. As they left their childhood home, their dear old mother warned them to look out for the Big Bad Wolf, who was at large in the area and hungry for little pig meat.

The first little pig was lazy and frivolous, so he built his house out of straw. When the Big Bad Wolf arrived, he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house down, and ate the little pig, because this is the Grimm version.

The second little pig was very serious, so he decided to engage a large consultancy firm to handle the building of his house for him. The consultancy firm assigned four of their best Big Fat Pigs to the project, and they scheduled a very expensive meeting with the little pig to discuss requirements. The little pig told them he wanted a nice, comfortable house with modern conveniences which would keep the Big Bad Wolf at bay. The Big Fat Pigs told the little pig that he should plan ahead more, and recommended that he build a large skyscraper in case he ever decided to run a multi-national corporation from the house. The little pig worried that this would be expensive, but the big fat pigs assured him that costs would be kept down by using cost-effective materials and off-shoring the actual building of the skyscraper. The little pig didn’t really understand much about building houses, and the big fat pigs seemed to be very clever and had lots of experience, so he signed a very long contract and waited for his skyscraper. Two months later the Big Fat Pigs came back to tell the little pig that they had had a pre-pre-meeting meeting meeting, and had clearly defined an early draft of the project plan. In only eight months they would have the final draft of The Plan, and would be ready to select an architect, who would then submit three different designs for the skyscraper along with thousands of pages of documentation detailing the wolf-proofing measures, so the little pig could be absolutely sure he was going to get the very bestest skyscraper that had ever been built. The Big Fat Pigs had a Gantt chart that covered three years and 142 participants and stakeholders, all with clearly defined activities and responsibilities so they knew exactly where they would be and what they would be doing at any time over the three year project. The Gantt chart was printed in colour on A0 paper and everything.

Sadly, the little pig never got to see the beautiful Gantt chart, because he had been eaten by the Big Bad Wolf. Luckily for the Big Fat Pigs, a clause in the contract he had signed meant that the project could continue in spite of his death, so they carried on. Nine years later, as the final prefabricated part of the skyscraper was fitted for the seventh time (because the previous six parts had not fitted correctly when they arrived from the land far away), the entire skyscraper collapsed because, it turned out, it had been built from substandard parts made from cheap materials in several different countries by unqualified workers who were working from different versions of the design document, which was two thousand pages long. Oh, and somebody had forgotten to dig the foundations, but by the time this was noticed, it was too late to do anything about it, so a complicated system of tensile steel cables and tent pegs was added to the base of the skyscraper to stop it falling over.

(The Big Fat Pigs were very surprised when the tent pegs didn’t work, despite the fact that they had used the same idea on every project they’d ever done and it had never worked. They thought maybe it would work next time, if they incorporated the learnings from this project.)

The local council insisted that the little pig’s family clean up the mess that the collapsing skyscraper had created, and make good the damage to neighbouring properties. The Big Fat Pigs put in a tender for the clean-up project, and got it. That was four years ago. The rusting remains of the skyscraper are still where they landed; the Big Fat Pigs have succeeded in designing a new system for reporting on the progress of the clean-up operation, and are currently waiting for executive approval so that they can move on to the pseudo code stage.

The third little pig hired a really smart architect, who knew a very good builder. The little pig told them he needed a house to protect him from the wolf, so the architect drew up a simple, strong design and the builder built it. After he had moved in, the little pig wanted some improvements, so he went back to the architect and the builder to ask for them. Because the house was very simple, and the builder had built it properly, they were able to make the new improvements quickly and easily, and the third little pig lived happily ever after.


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