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The enemy: PowerPoint

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Technology

U.S. Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster likens PowerPoint to an internal threat.

“It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,” he says. “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.”

He’s one of many who see the limits of PowerPoint, despite the central role it plays in their daily lives.

It’s often the format military leaders use when giving and receiving 30-minute briefings. For example, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, got two PowerPoint briefings in Kabul per day, plus three more during the week.

On the plus side, the program helps bring order to complexities.

But many fault it for stifling discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making. A rigid list of bullet points doesn’t take into account the interconnected political, economic and ethnic forces at work in a conflict.

You must know when to emulate McMaster, who banned PowerPoint when leading a successful—and complex—military effort.

—Adapted from "We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint," Elisabeth Bumiller, The New York Times.

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