Skip to comments.PowerPoint Run Amok in the Military (Good news! McMaster of Tal Afar got his star!)
Posted on 04/28/2010 5:38:57 PM PDT by neverdem
I have been spending the past few days with American military forces in the Persian Gulf region. Everywhere I have gone with a group from the Council on Foreign Relations, military briefers have sheepishly prefaced their remarks by saying, I read that story about PowerPoint, but I have a few PowerPoint slides Id like to present anyway. The story theyre referring to is this New York Times article, which suggests that the military is dangerously over reliant on this Microsoft program, which makes it all too easy to substitute glib bullet points for serious thought about pressing issues. Granted, PowerPoint in the right hands can be an efficient way to convey a lot of information, but Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster makes a good point when he says: Its dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control. Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable. Undoubtedly true, but as my experience of the past few days demonstrates, PowerPoint isnt going away anytime soon.
If only officers devoted as much time to the study of military history and strategy as they do to creating PowerPoint presentations, I suspect our armed forces would be even more formidable than they already are. And this is an addiction that is spreading: Armed forces tutored by Americans, including those of Afghanistan and Iraq, are using PowerPoint too. Im generally a fan of American imperialism, but this is one habit we might be better off not exporting.
LOL. As a young LTC I was slotted as a Liaison officer newly arrived at Grafenwoehr for an exercise. I no sooner walked into the briefing tent from the convoy and was immediately chewed out by the general for not having my PowerPoint briefing slide up on the screen, my protestations to having only arrived 5 minutes before cut no ice. Thereafter I always had my 2 liner ready - Go or No Go. He was not amused. Meanwhile, staff pukes were spending the majority of their 12 hour shifts dreaming up all sorts of whiz bang PowerPoints that the general spent less than 2 seconds looking at and never even asking questions about. At the end of the exercise I handed out PowerPoint Ranger Certificates authorizing the wearing of the Powerpoint Ranger Tab. Again, the general was not amused.
Here's an excerpt from the "Cognitive Style of PowerPoint" essay linked above:
My personal most hated is when the presenter reads the PP to you. That should be grounds for an instant demotion or firing.
Tufte is excellent and a must read for anyone presenting information.
Same here. That’s when PP moves from aid to crutch.
neverdem doesn’t seem to be around anymore but this thread was an interesting blast from the past.
LOL. We wasted ALOT of time and paper one upping each other with Power Point razzle dazzle. It got to the point where commanders would critique staff slides for style points and color pallete choices. Such BS.
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