Death by PowerPoint

Back when your trusty editor was the publications and communications director at a prominent nonprofit organization, a fellow executive took it upon herself to map out the creation/approval/distribution process she thought should be involved in putting out a newsletter. Up and down, back and forth, in and out it went – the crazy Etch-a-Sketch of lines and arrows was absolutely ludicrous. … Really funny too, when you weren’t despondent over what had become of your career and purpose in life.

And that was just a little nonprofit newsletter. Imagine trying to capture and visually illustrate all the players, procedures and factors to consider in modern military operations … Consider Afghanistan, where the Army is batting an unexpectedly tenacious enemy: PowerPoint presentations.

The New York Times reproduced a U.S. Army diagram (originally publicized by NBC’s intrepid foreign correspondent Richard Engel) showing American strategy in Afghanistan. The purpose of info graphics is to communicate visually, but this think looks like a bowl of spaghetti. Dropped on the floor.

If you want a good laugh, or cry, check it out:

When he first saw the info graphic at a PowerPoint presentation in Kabul last summer, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan reportedly said, “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.”

So that’s why this damn thing is taking so long! Hopefully, another way to win the war will emerge that doesn’t depend on tangled intentions and garbled communications.

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