Has the military come to this???

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by goaliedad, Apr 27, 2010.

  1. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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  2. rotcdonde

    rotcdonde Member

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    i saw this on the army's facebook page...it is surprising! :eek:
    not being the army yet myself though, i cant say to how much of a degree it's true...thats a scary powerpoint slide though.
     
  3. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    In short...yes. It seems like everything we do includes a powerpoint briefing and is sent by email. It's hard to believe, but the military runs on Microsoft Office. There's a "powerpoint tab" joke for a reason.
     
  4. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    Yep, everything is by powerpoint. If it's not by powerpoint it's some other computer based instructional guide that takes 2 hours to click through to learn not to "traffic in persons."

    The problem is (I include myself in this) the "art" of presentation has gone away with the ease of Powerpoint. I would bet that many would be at a loss as to what to do if they couldn't use PPT. This goes along with the mentality that "everything has a metric" that can be tracked that comes out of the Lean Six Sigma and every other "quality improvement" program that is out there.
     
  5. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    I agree that Powerpoint has sucked the "art" of presentation out of leadership. Powerpoint is very good for explaining "simple" objectives, but I think the spaghetti chart of the war is a shining example of how complex the big picture really is. All of those boxes on the spaghetti chart may have a functional Powerpoint outlined solution, but the sheer complexity of the the interfaces between all of the objectives in the spaghetti chart demonstrates that the leadership needs to be aware and leading based upon the spaghetti chart more than the embedded Powerpoint objectives.

    And the troop needing to be led are not nearly as capable of understanding the intricacies of the spaghetti chart, so the "art" of leading people to do the "right" thing for the spaghetti chart objective (as opposed to the local Powerpoint objective) can't be based upon Powerpoint, but ultimately come from being able to get your people to identify with your vision of the mission and move forward based upon the faith that you are doing the overall "right" thing. That is what leadership is. That can't be done with Powerpoint.

    So to abuse Shakespeare a bit..

    First, we kill all the lawyers. Then we go after Bill Gates.... :yllol:
     
  6. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Aaaarghhhh! PowerPoint! The bane of my existence in my job in the Puzzle Palace!

    And I heartily agree, the crutch of the poor speaker, and the killer of ingenuity and "presence" when addressing an audience. As goaliedad said, there is an "art" to presenting a brief or information. Just reading the slides to your audience is NOT the way to go (and usually just a waste of their time, especially to the ones higher in rank). A usual tool, if used properly. A killer of using your brain over using a bullet statement (no pun intended), if used incorrectly.

    But, I did get my "Master PowerPoint Slide-maker" badge recently. :) Comes with the territory.

    And I also agree with goaliedad that Bill Gates may not be the anti-Christ, but he is definitely in charge of his IT team!
     
  7. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    It's almost as bad as hearing "Paradigm Shift" for the millionth time...
     
  8. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    On my flightsuit sleeve, on FRIDAY's that I "attend" the club with other liars and braggarts, I wear what appears to be a Fighter Weapons School Graduate patch...

    Closer examination will reveal it is a USAF Power Point School Graduate patch... :wink:

    YES, it's THAT pervasive!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  9. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    OK, story time.

    My year at Leavenworth (no, not for anything like THAT!) attending the Army's Command and General Staff College (their year-long Professional Military Education school for Majors; the AF and Navy have similar schools). One of the "core" courses is a seven week class on understanding and building an "Ops Order" at the Corps level (the huge package that details how the Corp will go into battle; you're there to learn how to become a "staff officer" at the strategic level, this is something "staff officers would do")

    We're at the point in the class where we are supposed to build the "Intelligence Assessment" portion, with the end result being a briefing we would give to the "Corps Commander" (the instructor). Class is split into two groups to do this, and it's my turn to lead one of the groups (which means I'll present the brief). Lots of friendly ribbing and chuckles about the "AF guy" leading an Army brief.

    Get my team together, and start building our presentation (on PowerPoint), which I will present the next day. Class has one of those "Smart-boards" which is a portable white-board like device, nearly 8 feet across and 4 feet tall, that can display computer screens and can be set up as a touch-screen. In about an hour, I get all the information I can from my team and we decide (based on my insistence) on limiting the presentation to 3 slides, which I think is the right amount to ensure I can present the entire brief in the 10 minutes we were allotted. I release my team, and work on the slides alone for about another hour to make sure I got the format pretty much correct and the information captured (no need for anyone to "look over my shoulder" and slow me down, I figured they can leave and work on something more important (like taking the rest of the day off and being with their family, which to me was just as important during that year-long school).

    So, like I said, I finish up pretty quickly, and start to pack up for the day (to be with MY family). I look over, and there is the other team, led by one of my classmates who is an Army infantryman, standing behind the leader suggesting and adding more and more to their presentation. I chuckle, and leave for the day.

    Next day, day of the "presentation". When I get in, I casually ask a member of the other team "How long you guys stay for yesterday?" His reply, 'Oh, we were here well after you all left. I didn't get home until 6PM, and I think xxxxx (the team leader) stayed afterwards." So, when xxxxs gets in, I ask him how long he worked on this presentation. His answer: "I was up until midnight finishing it". I look shocked, "You worked on this for over 12 hours?"
    His reply, "We'll see who does better" he says as he laughs at me for being the "typical" AF guy who always is looking for the "easy way out" of work (my classmates "typical" view of the AF).

    Presentation time. I'm up first. Three easy slides, spent most of the time about 10 feet form the board, talking to the Corps Commander instead of the slides. Finish in just under the 10 minutes. Polite applause, I sit down.

    The infantryman's turn. He then proceeds to spend the next 40 minutes presenting his "masterpiece". He never stops touching the board, and every time he touches it, a piece of animation or a text box slides in from the side. Graphics galore. He even has F-16s zoom in from the right, with little explosion animations going off on the enemy. Arrows showing troop movements EVERYWHERE. The slide NEVER changed, but he kept adding more and more graphics to it. After he was done, it looked worse than the slide presented to Gen McChrystal that started this whole conversation. I think he got carpal tunnel in his index finger, he touched that dang board so much by the time he was through.

    He sits down to shouts of "Awesome job", "Fantastic", "That's how the ARMY does it" from the rest of the class. I applaud politely.

    Instructor goes up to the front of the room. "Well done by both sides, but which side do you think did better?" Almost unanimous from the rest of the class that the infantryman was the winner. Even some remarks from my team-mates that "We TOLD Bullet he needed to put more effort into this." (Thanks, pals!) The infantryman's remark? "Well, it really wasn't fair,I do this for a living."

    The instructor sees that I'm scowling the whole time, and then asks me "Bullet,what did YOU think of of xxxxx's brief?"

    My response: "If I was the Corps Commander, I would have told him to get to the point at the 8 minute mark, told him "if you touch that board one more time, I chop off your fingers" at the 10 minute mark, and would have finally told him to "shut up and sit down" at the 15 minute mark."

    The class is SHOCKED! "No way!", "BS!", "Typical AF" shouts form the crowd. The instructor simply asks "Why?" My response; "The commander doesn't have the time for you to waste it for him. He gave you 10 minutes to tell him what he needs to hear--xxxxx took 40. It's also obvious to me that he spent about 10 more hours than me to get that "PowerPoint sink-hole" together, I did mine in 2. Means I have 10 extra hours to get onto more important things, like running a battle..."

    The class comes to xxxxx's defense. "You don't get it AF. He did this the ARMY way, all-out"

    The instructor's response: "YOU don't get it. Bullet is 1000% correct. Xxxxx just wasted 30 minutes off the General's time, and 10 hours of his own." Ends the lesson with a famous take-away: "Perfection is the enemy of "good enough" ."

    Lesson (hopefully) learned: you use PowerPoint to help you present information, not to create the latest Spielberg masterpiece of special effects and overwhelming visuals. By the looks of that McChrystal slide, it seems that lesson hasn't sunk in to a few of the folks out in the field....

    And here I am telling you all that your presentations should be short and sweet, and I'm doing it in a manifesto. Oh, the irony!
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2010
  10. packermatt7

    packermatt7 USAFA Cadet

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    My friend's sponsor dad helped set up Powerpoints to brief the higher ups in Washington D.C. Apparently, a lot of time is given to these. They have specific colors they have to use (AF Blue has certain hues, saturation, etc. that must be carefully chosen). He had pretty long days, too.


    Powerpoint can kill, though. I've seen hundreds lose all life signs in their chairs, until someone comes by and taps them with a mad look on their face.
     
  11. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Stuck in the same boat here. I'm guessing about 1/4 of my job is either summarizing or creating PowerPoint presentations for some General on the E-ring. AND, those great, big muckety-mucks have entire staffs with part of their job being to make sure the presentations are in the right format. Had a few "discussions" with some of the execs who complained I hadn't used the correct shade of blue on a call-out box, or that my facer slide wasn't properly placed in the right direction. My point to them: "if the General is more concerned about the color of my text box or if I have the right number format in the correct corner of the slide over the facts I'm presenting about Combat Capability ON the slide, then I think we've already declared "we surrender" to the future enemy".

    Luckily enough, you can easily take an old presentation that you KNOW is formatted correctly and use that as a shell for your new one. (My PowerPoint geek-ness is showing...)

    Another pet peeve of mine with the current presentations I have to make for Senior AF Leadership: I'm sitting here making slides that talk about what we need to kill the enemy and get our crews home safely, or what bomb / missile do we need for the next generation of targets, and I'm forced to make sure EVERY slide has IN BIG BOLD LETTERS ON IT: "Year of the AF Family" !!!! :unhappy::unhappy::thumbdown::thumbdown:

    Seriously, we're a military engaged in TWO wars, and THAT is the strategic message we're focused on? Priorities, people. Priorities

    (BTW: I recommended, LOUDLY, during the Pentagon Fighter Bar Roll Call a few weeks ago, that perhaps we should change the slogan to "Year We Focus On Killing America's Enemies In the Wars We Are CURRENTLY In!". Got some public chuckles from some of the higher ups (WAAAY Higher Ups) in the room; got me a raised eye-brow from my boss the next day. What can I say, it was a sword I thought needed falling on.... :thumb:)
     
  12. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    Bullet, are you SURE you were a Mud Hen "copilot?"

    Sounds a LOT like an Eagle driver with his fangs showing! :rolleyes:

    I know you remember the briefs that stressed (OVER AND OVER AND OVER) "don't hurt this, avoid this, BE CAREFUL here in the kill box" etc...etc...etc...

    And all you could think was: "I'm here, the enemy is THERE, and you're in my way...please move so I can go KILL the enemy and we can all go home!"

    There's a reason the puzzle palace is classified as a war zone!

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  13. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Steve, from a guy who once had a JAG officer meet him in the chocks at taxi-in, climb up the ladder immediately after engine shut-down, TRY to get me to hand over my 8mm mission tape (to which I calmly said "get you're %$$#** hands off of my @%$#@#^ tape until I KNOW you're allowed to see it! BTW, he wasn't (security reasons), so I never got in trouble over THAT!), only to skip debrief and go straight to the Deployed OG's office to give my statement, I am VERY thankful for and attentive to those types of briefs! (turns out, I did nothing wrong, but trying to prove that to a few arm-chair Quarterbacking JAGs was a Bee-aatcch!)

    Now, I find the 50 minute PowerPoint presentations like KP 2001 mentions on how to tell if the "young lady" you are buying a drink for in some bar in Singapore was kidnapped out of some Eastern Block country just a little insulting to my honor and humiliating to my dignity. :thumbdown: Easy to build an empire if you can amaze some big-wig on the importance of your pet project because your slides had animation and built in video clips! Thank goodness I can just keeping hitting the "next slide" button; but it does tend to get annoying! :unhappy:
     

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