A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman hiking down below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”
The hiker, shouting back, replied, “You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are somewhere between 29 and 31 degrees north latitude and 89 and 91 degrees west longitude.”
“Hey, what are you, an evaluator?” yelled the balloonist.
“Why, I am,” the hiker yelled back, “How did you know?”
“Well,” shouted the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to do with your information! Fact of the matter is, I’m still lost, and you haven’t said or done a damned thing to help!”
“You must be a program manager.” The hiker yelled back.
“I am,” shouted the balloonist, “but how did you figure that out?”
“Well,” the hiker bellowed, “you don’t know where you are.
You don’t know where you’re going.
You’ve risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.
You’ve made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and now you expect me to solve your problem.
The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.”
[Oh those crazy evaluators!]
Source unknown. Maybe I got it from someone at the American Evaluation Association. I found this story in my digital files the other day while, of course, looking for something else. It does come in handy; I’m thinking a lot about the relevance and utility of evaluation findings.
Hey, help me out, if you know to whom I should attribute this, then by all means, leave a comment. Thanks.