The PowerPoint programme revolutionised business meetings in the early 1990’s. No longer did people turn up with a few notes, and spend 15 minutes drawing out ideas on a flip chart or acetate. Instead, they collected their thoughts beforehand into a well-worked-out proposal.
But PowerPoint has also had unintended consequences. The above slide, from the US Army’s Afghanistan strategy planning, is typical of these. As the US/NATO commander General McChrystal commented when it was first shown, “when we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.”
Many Generals are now rethinking their use of PowerPoint. General McMaster, who banned its use in his Iraq campaign, told the New York Times, “its dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and control.” He believes that overuse of PowerPoint not only ties up valuable resources at operational level, but also stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making.