Communicator (communicator) wrote,

Aimed pressure to achieve end-state over time

There's a post on Crooked Timber on that old favourite - how crap PowerPoint is. Sadly, the evidence is in front of us everyday, as apparently Powerpoint is now used in lieu of military orders in executing the Iraq campaign.

"It’s quite frustrating the way this works, but the way we do things nowadays is combatant commanders brief their products in PowerPoint up in Washington to OSD and Secretary of Defense…In lieu of an order, or a frag [fragmentary order], or plan, you get a bunch of PowerPoint slides…[T]hat is frustrating, because nobody wants to plan against PowerPoint slides."

But what is worse this is the kind of slide he is talking about. You must see this, it's almost incredible. Imagine this slide being used to communicate a strategy.

The box in the middle is I think very telling: Aimed pressure to achieve end-state over time. It literally means nothing (perhaps 'things will be done' - by whom unspecified) but it uses eight pompous words to obfuscate the fact that it is saying nothing. Worse, to obfuscate the fact that the person giving the orders doesn't have a clue what to do, and is pushing responsibility onto the hapless recipient of the strategy. The more I look at this slide the angrier I feel.

But I think PowerPoint can be a great asset to a presentation. I used to present research findings in the olden days and we had to hand-draw graphs onto acetates with felt tip pens. Sometimes you need a visual aid. The key is you must have something intelligent to communicate, and then you use the tools at hand to communicate it as clearly as possible.

The problem is that PowerPoint (IMHO) exposes the shortcomings of the user. It turbo-charges the idiotic. And I think this happens so much in our society. People rise to the top through factors other than ability to know what to do when they get there. But, once they achieve power, either within an organisation or the world, they then have powerful technological tools, including communication tools, at their disposal. They think they are kings of the Earth. In fact they are chimps with computers.
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