Get your (penguin) specification right!

- November 23, 2012 1:31 PM
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A shopping centre in Liverpool ( a fine and historic city in the north west of England) is in trouble. To celebrate the opening of their Christmas Ice Festival they hired a group of penguins form a wildlife park to skate around the ice and entertain the crowd.

However, it turned out that these were Humboldt Penguins, that live off the coast of Chile and “have probably never seen ice in their lives”. As the Daily Mail reported;

Professor Rory Wilson, of Swansea University, who has studied penguins for 32 years, said:  ‘Humboldts are a tropical penguin used to a very warm climate in Chile and they will never, ever come across ice in their natural environment. If they looked cold then they probably were.’
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Now, there are a few claims and counter claims around just how inappropriate this was, but it just struck us that this was a pretty good example of the need to get your specification right, whatever you’re buying! Not just any old penguins, but the right sort of penguins…

It’s also interesting in that it probably demonstrates the limits of using output or outcome based specifications.  I suppose the shopping centre could have said “an entertaining bunch of animals to entertain on the ice rink” but they might have ended up with a load of polar bears eating the kids in that case…

So it was probably one where you did need to be pretty specific about exactly what you wanted. Penguins, make and model, public performance experience, ability to pose for cameras without pooing on the ice…

Anyway, it’s a great excuse to show some pictures of penguins.

And while we’re in holiday mood, happy Thanksgiving to all out colleagues, friends and acquaintances in the USA!

Comments

  • bitter and twisted:

    Surely this example shows the superiority of output based specifications.
    They asked for the input of penguins, when they should have asked for the output of ‘penguins to cavort on an ice rink and entertain the kiddies’.

  • PlanBee:

    Isnt the output simpler than that

    ‘something to entertain the kiddies’

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