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.
I have tried to read that monstrosity and I can not make any sense of it. And that is coming from a masters student in political science.
Powerpoint is an outstanding tool, but it is heavily overused. In my Captains Career Course class, we were PP’d to death many times per day, then one day we had a power outage during a pretty technical class, and the instructor just went to whiteboard and marker. That was probably the best class we ever had. Powerpoint’s rigidity was completely eclipsed by the ability to correct any unclear diagrams or ideas with the good ol’ whiteboard eraser.
I’m thinking of a word.
A compound word.
First half is CLUSTER...
LOL...some lieutenant colonel got a Meritorious Service Medal for that one, no doubt.
Looks more like a family style plate of spaghetti in Alfredo sauce than a war plan
Ping! It not about Powerpoint. It’s about my subtitle.
General Patton: Let me simplify that plan for you, son.
PowerPoint makes us stupid, Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander
Yeah, I just saw that story today. I remember when he was Major McMaster and just leaving his teaching post at West Point. Power Point was just as big a problem then.
Glad to see he got his star. He led the most successful action of Desert Storm, and then commanded the most successful campaign of Iraqi Freedom. The man gets results that speak for themselves, and it was an absolute travesty that he was passed over for promotion twice.
You can get that for home delivery at Round Table. Ask for bread sticks.
Raise your hand if you remember when it was Harvard Graphics presentations that were all the rage in the Army.
General James “Mad Dog” Mattis is the man! He is not only a great Marine but a great warrior.
Here are some quotes from the General:
“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.”
“I come in peace, I didn’t bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.”
Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders
“Computers by their nature are isolating. They build walls. The nature of war is immutable: You need trust and connection.” He dismissed the net-centric emphasis as “a Marxian view — it ignores the spiritual.”
We need about a thousand more like him and the entire world would quake with fear of offending the USA.
I wonder what “Don’t shot until you see the whites of their eyes” would look like in PowerPoint?
A man like that I'd follow into Hell. Semper Fi General.
I think it’s supposed to be a mind map. But it looks more like a “someone’s out of their mind” map.
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.