Years and years ago at university, I was an engineering student taking classes I was not completely comfortable with. I did not mind the math, science, and engineering classes but had difficulty with ones classified as humanities or language. This really is not news to most engineering types. There seems to be biases with how brains work and if you tip it too far one way it makes it very hard to go the other way.
So, in short, I struggled with the English classes in my first year. In the end I did well but this was more based on my ability to think creatively instead of my ability to master the nuances of the English language and write wonderful essays or stories.
My common theme during these classes was how computers related to society. I remember writing one essay about how computers were only a tool and it was up to people how they were used. This was back in the days that popular fiction depicted computers as being inherently evil and most average people considered computers as potentially dangerous. Perhaps it really was not that way in 1983 but I certainly perceived people’s mistrust of what computers could do.
This leads to the topic of PowerPoint. Doing presentations has always been a mainstay of corporate environments. At IBM, it was all about using transparencies with overhead projectors. You know, the ones that you could draw on or print out with special plotters. People actually used to switch the images by switching pages manually. The content, however, is the same format as today. People trying to impress someone (a boss, co-workers, or maybe even a CEO), invest huge amounts of time trying to sell a pitch using whatever resources they have available. PowerPoint happens to be a tool overused for this purpose.
I recently came across a video that mocks the abuse of PowerPoint at Creative Leadership Forum . In this video, it is clearly shown how PowerPoint content can become a joke. As most people, I have seen all these elements in the countless meetings I have attended since 1989.
I remember one individual at IBM that focused solely on his image and not any technical skills. This meant that he was really good at presenting statistics at meetings but had no technical understanding of how things worked. Somehow this was acceptable. Not only that, he was promoted solely on his ability to put together a compelling presentations without understanding what the numbers really meant.
Whenever I spot presentations that are too polished and do not actually hold any real value technically (and they are meant to address a technical issue) I really get annoyed. I know the upper level managers will love it but completely miss the point that it has no implementation value. I get even more annoyed when I see people getting rewarded for bad behavior.
I suspect there is a drive for managers of power to have things be easy to consume and decide. Things which are visible in simple form are more likely to be judged to have value.
The warning I would give is that the presenter that focuses on how things look will obviously miss how things actually are and will more interested in appeasing management appetites than telling things as they really are.
It seems this topic has opened up some old wounds. I’ll have to remember to let them heal properly this time.
Anyways, take a look at the video and it might teach you something. Humor often makes light of things and this usually leads to change based on people realizing how silly they look.