Saturday, August 28, 2010

Death by PowerPoint Afghani style

I can relate to Col Lawrence Sellin, who was fired for venting his opinions about the use of PowerPoint and the inefficiency of command at the coalition's joint command in Afghanistan.

He went on to paint a picture of a bloated organisation, swollen by the vanity of commanders, where endless slide show presentations are given to brief "cognitively challenged" generals.

I’m a devotee of Tufte myself. I loath PowerPoint. I’ve  been on a campaign of aggressive passive resistance for years. I say silent because I don’t want to self-destruct like Sellin. Working is good, not working is bad.

However he reserved his deepest criticism for the daily slide show presentations junior officers must give to keep top brass updated.

"For headquarters staff, war consists largely of the endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information," he wrote.

Giving good presentations had become an end in itself, he said, suggesting "random motion, ad hoc processes and an in-depth knowledge of Army minutia and acronyms are also key characteristics of a successful staff officer."

It made me laugh though.

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