Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint

I came across the article We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint by Elisabeth Bumiller of the The New York Times (via @marklittlenews on Twitter), which adds a little to the PowerPoint debate (see my other posts on this below). In a presentation, the graphic to the right was shown to a general - it was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti. Keep this in mind lads when next you go in to battle against the Taliban!

Some generals are quoted in the article as follows:

“PowerPoint makes us stupid” and “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.”

One officer when asked how he spent most of his time, he responded, "Making PowerPoint slides". Apparently he was serious! Junior officers are referred to as "PowerPoint Rangers".

There seems to be a backlash against PowerPoint in the US Armed Forces - no surprise there when something is over-used. While PPT is excellent for things like maps and charts showing trends, it is reported by the Army that the PPT "program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making". The diagram above no doubt looks confusing, but is actually might mean something to the intended audience.

I would like to see what my Lecturing colleagues who teach modules such as Strategic Management think of the use of PPT. Do they use it in class? How do you convey concepts such as the strategy process, capability, and purpose in bullet points? No doubt there is much in-class discussion where there are more mature and experienced students (eg in part-time courses in NCI), maybe less in undergraduate courses.

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