Joke about the business-IT gulf

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Jon Carroll, whose column is one of the first places I go in the morning, relayed this joke from a reader in his column today.

Realizing he was lost, a balloonist dropped down to ask directions. “Excuse me, but I’m a little off course,” he shouted. “I promised to meet a friend an hour ago. I don’t know where I am.”

A woman yelled back, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re at exactly 40 degrees, 22 minutes and 21 seconds north latitude and 70 degrees, 30 minutes and 33 seconds west longitude.”

“Amazing,” the balloonist replied. “You must be an engineer!”

“I am,” she replied. “How did you know?”

“Well, everything you told me is technically correct, but I can’t use your information. I’m still lost, and you haven’t been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.”

The woman thought for a moment, then replied, “You must be in management.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well, you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You’ve risen to your position due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. In fact, you’re in exactly the same position you were before we met, but somehow it’s now my fault.”

The data industry thrives on conversation. Please submit a comment.

Other recent posts

Bohemian Grove a la BI

The Bohemian Grove of the BI industry convenes for the fifteenth time in just three weeks. Naturally, you ask the obvious question: Are you serious? The Grove? A summit? The answer begins with a fond recollection of the Grove. If you’ve never attended the Bohemian Grove yourself — I haven’t, though I live in the… Continue Reading

Favorite Star Trek, a data story

This story shows how elemental data stories really are. Humans come ready to tell and hear them, requiring no plug-ins at all. This young person can do a good job of it. There was a question, followed by data, then questions and answers, and and finally a conclusion. It’s all there. It’s elementary. Sure, this… Continue Reading

Bad stories stop good data at the water cooler

We agree by now that data’s a good compass. One neglected question is tougher: Which map? Everyone’s known the kind of “grouchy guy” TDWI instructor Kellee M. Franklin, Ph.D tells about. This guy knew better than most of his co-workers about how their Washington, D.C. defense agency worked. And he was frustrated. Over the years,… Continue Reading