30 December 2009

Ode to Guardian: Powerpoint makes, well, someone quake in their boots

In our Ode to Guardian, this week's PowerPoint follies include a great post from the Counterinsurgency Center Blog that compares the endless presentation-isms in the war zones to Dilbert...

In 2001, I sat in a conf room at NATO HQ in Sarajevo. My boss was trying to convince the Serbs of the joys and benefits of joining the Bosnian Army. His tool was a power point presentation. This presentation was a work of art. It had motion, colors, arrows, timelines, phases. The logic was flawless and it was delivered with passion. The senior Serbian officer in the room let my boss rant, then in a bored voice said, "Colonel, you have made a nice presentation here. The colors are very pretty. But, we will never do this." My boss was struck dumb. He could not believe this. His logic and power point went over like a lead balloon. What he had failed to realize is that war is a complex human activity that by it’s vary nature defies normal logic. The Serbs would not work with Croats and Muslims because they hated them. That was the only logic that mattered.

A few weeks ago, I was sent a power point presentation on the "Dynamic Planning for COIN in Afghanistan". I looked at it briefly, but thought that it was some kind of joke; so, I flushed it immediately. However, I received it from another source. So, it appears the joke is on me.

A quick look at this bird’s nest of a concept, would seem to suggest that Dilbert or some escapee from the Project Management Institute has taken over planning for COIN operations in Afghanistan. What I see is yet another attempt to take a complex human activity and turn it into an MBA project management flowchart. I can see the thinking, "Now that we have the power point correct, we are sure to win the war in Afghanistan!" In fact, I’m sure that, if we showed this power point to the insurgents, they would throw in the towel, convinced that our superior power point skills indicate that we cannot be defeated. Really, I don’t know how we fought wars before power point.

Think you've seen the diagrams in the presentation before? You have...

By: Brant

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