What I learn from a hot air balloon story?

As you can imagine, part of my job is to ensure that we have the right balance of technology and business leadership principles in my division as we drive technology innovation and move the business forward.  I came across this story the other day that really pointed out the differences between the two disciplines in a really funny way:

A man in a hot air balloon is lost. He sees a man on the ground and reduces height to speak to him.

"Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?"

"You're in a hot air balloon hovering thirty feet above this field," comes the reply.

"You must work in Information Technology," says the balloonist.

"I do," says the man, "How did you know?"

"Well," says the balloonist, "Everything you told me is technically correct, but it's no use to anyone."

"You must be in business," says the man.

"I am," says the balloonist, "How did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "You don't know where you are, you don't know where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault."

For me, it really reminded me to be thoughtful of the different filters these two disciplines think about the world and needing to ensure that we connect the dots between the two worlds.   


Comments (10)

  1. blogx says:

    IT is from Mars, Business is from Venus.  

  2. I tend not to "syndicate" another blogger's work but this blog post from S. Somasegar is

  3. SBC says:

    It’s very difficult to believe this story – it’s extremely rare that IT or Business will ever admit that they are lost!

  4. Ivan Shumilin says:

    The first half is known as joke about mathematicians in Russia 🙂

  5. joshuaanthony says:

    Somasegar over at Microsoft posted a wonderful joke pointing out the differences between IT and business people – Hot Air Balloon story. Business people really…

  6. JC2006 says:

    The ironic thing about this joke, at least for me, is that the first version I ever heard had the balloonist’s response as "You must work for Microsoft Technical Support" instead of "You must work in Information Technology."

  7. Srinath says:

    Hello sir,

    What u said in the last two lines was 100% right on spot. But business is also a factor which cant be ignored.

    Mr.Somasegar i happened to get a glance of you 2 weeks before in chennai. Like many persons said in previous postings v r proud of U.

  8. Somasegar says:

    Thanks Srinath for the kind words.  Yes, business is not something that can be ignored but needs to be connected with the technology (for a company like us) in a way that it resonates with people.


  9. Pradeep says:

    Would it be possible for Microsoft to consider a licensing model that allows students  out of college who want to go for startups to use Microsoft technologies for free till a point they can justify paying for the software(e.g. until revenue crosses 10 times the software cost). Could such model not expect dealing with lawyers during the initial stages.

    Microsoft has great products that all work together.  But, all these products are prohibitively expensive for someone just out of college.  Please imagine someone in India with some idea to go for a startup. They have little choice but to go around all the open source technologies which sometimes don’t work well together.

  10. Somasegar says:

    Hi Pradeep,

    We do have a licensing program for start-up companies that are using Microsoft technologies to get access to our software for a couple of years in a very reasonable way.  You can find more information on this program, which we call EMPOWER at:


    All the very best.


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