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Anecdotes and Fables

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Managers and Engineers

Use this story as an 'interest getter' in technical and management training courses.

A man, in a hot air balloon, was lost so he reduced altitude until he saw a woman below. Descending a bit more, he shouted: 'Excuse me, can you help? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am.'

The woman replied: 'You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 10 metres above the ground. You're between 40 and 41 degrees North and 59 to 60 degrees West.'

'You must be an engineer,' said the balloonist.

'I am,' replied the woman, 'how did you know?'

'Well,' answered the balloonist, 'everything you told me is technically correct, but I've no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip.'

The woman below responded: 'You must be in management.'

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

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

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