The Friday Funny: Doing what you’ve been asked to do

A young MBA was leaving the office late one evening when she found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.

“Listen,” said the CEO, “this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work?”

“Certainly,” said the young executive. She turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.

“Excellent, excellent!” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”


Haven’t we all had evaluations like this, where we’ve jumped in to do what they’ve asked us to do – before checking that what we think they asked us to do is the same as what they think they asked us to do? (Let alone what they really need…)

3 comments to The Friday Funny: Doing what you’ve been asked to do

  • Kelci Price

    That’s great! Especially earlier in my career as an evaluator I often found that my process involved 1) listening to what my clients wanted, then 2) trying to figure out how to execute on it. It was only slowly that I learned I should: 1) listen to what my clients wanted, 2) take a step back and figure out if that was actually the most appropriate and useful question, and 3) figure out how to execute on it.

  • I’ve long considered that what distinguishes evaluation as a professional activity from than evaluation as a craft activity is the extent to which we respond to a client’s wants or to a client’s needs. Responding to a client’s wants is largely a technical issue. Responding to a client’s needs requires a strong ethical orientation, a sensitivity to context, content knowledge, political nous, strategic ability, humility and nerves of steel. None of that comes cheap, and none of it comes packaged with a right answer.

  • Carolyn Sullins

    I was anticipating a different ending — the sensitive document to be shredded wound up getting scanned and forwarded to thousands of email recipients.