Tag Archives: military

Clarity in thinking, expression and planning

There is an interesting story that Lou Gerstner told in his book “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance”. Lou is the former CEO of IBM who turned the behemoth around. Apparently, he was able to make the big elephant dance.

At an important meeting, as one of his executives was making a formal presentation on an overhead projector. Lou simply stepped to the table and, as politely as he could in front of the presentation team, switched off the projector. After a long moment of awkward silence, Lou simply said to the staffer, “Let’s just talk about your business.” Lou Gerstner mentioned this episode because it had an unintended, but terribly powerful ripple effect throughout IBM.

 

Formal presentation is just one of the many ways for you to convey your message to your audience.

 

The pervasive PowerPoint slides have not just invaded the corporate world where complicated business strategies have been reduced to clusters of bullet points. In his best seller book “Fiasco” on the Iraqi war, Tom Ricks describes how General McKiernan was unable to get General Tommy Franks “to issue clear orders that stated explicitly what he wanted done, how he wanted to do it, and why. Rather, Franks passed along PowerPoint briefing slides taht he had show to (Defense Secretary) Rumsfeld.”

 

Not all in the military were big fans of PowerPoint. Colonel H. R. McMaster “all but banning the use of PowerPoint briefings by his officers. The Army loves these bulleted briefings, but McMaster had come to believe that the ubiquitous software inhibits clarity in thinking, expression, and planning.”

 

McMaster was finally promoted to brigadier general in 2008 by none other than General Petraeus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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