Showing how US Military Strategy works

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war” said Gen. McChrystal of the spaghetti bowl powerpoint slide used to demonstrate the complexity of the war in Afghanistan in 2010.

stability afghanistan 2010

Now, today, I’m not planning on clarifying what stability in Afghanistan was supposed to look like or how the above graphic could have been improved… But it is imperative that all learning experience designers and presenters in general recognize what a zero looks like on scale of 1 to 10.

A less frequently repeated quote from that Spring of 2010 was that “some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.” Gen. McMaster was right when he told the New York Times about the false benefits of powerpoint presentations in general and the gross amount of time wasted on them.

content + Powerpoint slides ≠ understandable

And that leads to another critically important point – the use of technology does not equal better or more understandable training. Students of instructional design learn this on day one. Using Powerpoint doesn’t make the learning experience better than a textbook; and Captivate doesn’t make the learning experience better than Powerpoint; and a Halo Lens (i.e. virtual reality) doesn’t make the learning experience better than Captivate. And so on…

Here’s the takeaway for today: the medium for training is only as useful as the learning design being applied to it. Remember that a stale, old Powerpoint does not get better when you Captivate it, add audio, and let people click a ‘next’ button. Let’s respect the process of making better, more engaging, less content-heavy learning experiences. Only when we bring stability to our presentations will we be able to bring stability to Afghanistan.


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