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Tales from the Woods - WTF

When we implement reporting systems they can be prone to abuse. From a behavioural point of view, they can drive some very strange actions ...

“The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.”

A A Milne

Eeyore decided that a lot of the senior woodland creatures were colour-blind.

Eeyore, who was the Projek Manager on the Acorn-Counter Projek. Eeyore used special colours to denote how good a Projek was. Green was Good, Orange was less Good and Red was even less Gooder – just like a traffic-light. 

Eeyore had found out that when a Projek was Green he was left alone to get on with Things. When a Projek was Orange, he would attract ‘interest’. Tigger was only interested when a Projek wasn’t Green. He was hard to find when the Projek was Green, although the sound of bouncing could often be heard in the distance. When the Projek was Red, nearly everybody was interested and Eeyore was amazed how much ‘help’ he was given. Although ‘help’ came in many forms … most involved more work for Eeyore. He thought that giving him more work when Things were even less Gooder was Acorn Counter counter-productive. 

Although life was easier when everything was Green, it was the way of Things that sometimes Projeks were just another colour.

Tigger liked to bounce. Sometimes he could bounce all day and those were the days he liked best. Sometimes ‘work’ got in the way and he had to do Things. Things meant less time for bouncing, so Tigger tried to avoid them at all costs. Tigger was in charge of all of 100 Acre Wood’s Projeks. Although to be fair there were only two of them – the infamous Acorn Counter Projek and the Acorn Polishing Machine Mk 2 Projek. Acorns were very important in the 100 Acre Wood. Tigger thought it was Owl who had said, “The future of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”[i] Hence the need to know exactly how many Acorns there are, although how important it was to polish them was open to debate (and the subject of another story). 

Tigger had found that having a Orange or Red Projek meant less time for bouncing. Owl and Christopher Robin always wanted a briefing and a plan if Projeks weren’t Green. Tigger thought that the word ‘briefing’ was a misnomer (although, obviously, he never used a word like ‘misnomer’, in fact he couldn’t even spell 'missnomer').  The briefing was everything but brief. Briefing involved work and work meant less bouncing. Tigger had an understandable (at least to Tigger) aversion to all colours except Green.

The Projek was Red. This was not a statement open to interpretation. 

Eeyore, who spent most of his time fluctuating between being depressed and being very depressed, had hit an all-time low. He had been deep in discussion with Tigger for three hours. He had been explaining all the reasons why the Projek was Red. The scope had changed. They didn’t have all the resources they needed. Costs were escalating. But most importantly, and the real driver for its redness, the ‘Made Up Date’ for implementation was not achievable. Despite all the evidence to the contrary Tigger was adamant that the Projek was Green. Eeyore, who had run out of the energy to argue, decided to compromise on Orange. Tigger decided to compromise on Green. Eeyore almost convinced him that it was an orangy shade of Green. However, Tigger preferred a greeny shade of Green. This is known as the Watermelon effect - on the outside, a watermelon is smooth, shiny and green, but under the surface it is red and very fragile. However, as the Projek was Green (according to Tigger), Owl and Christopher Robin didn’t need a briefing and there was still time for bouncing. 

Now, true to say, Eeyore was a bit of a pessimist. He often saw the negative in things. Although, Eeyore liked to think of himself as a pragmatist. Tigger just liked to think of himself. He was one of life’s optimists, if by optimist you mean someone who plants two acorns and buys a hammock. 

The Projek stayed Red and Tigger continued to call it Green. Now bad news rarely gets better with age and the Projek could not have been more Red if it had a degree in crimson from the University of Scarlet. Finally, Tigger had to declare the Projek as Red. This moment was known as a WTF moment – where WTF stands for Why Traffic-lights Fail!

Owl and Christopher Robin did not like surprises. This was, of course, not totally true - Christmas and Birthdays were nice surprises. However, this was not a nice surprise and definitely did not involve giving presents or having parties. Owl was so angry that he hooted with such a force as to make Tigger’s model of the Cutty Sark, which took pride of place in his office, fall into the wastepaper basket. As always with WTF moments, the ship hit the can! The Cutty Sark shattered and bits of ship flew round the room. If you bounce a lot you can move very quickly and somehow Tigger managed to avoid any of the ship hitting him. Unfortunately, Eeyore was not so fortunate … bits of mast and rigging stuck to his coat.

"How could this have happened?" exclaimed Christopher Robbin.

Eeyore was lost for words. The embarrassing silence was only punctuated by the now distant sound of bouncing.

[i] Although actually quoted by Ralph Waldo Emerson, it is definitely something that Owl would have said and maybe even did.

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