|The Devil’s Advocate™ sounds off on Management
No novel , no play, no acerbic letter — no creative thought of any substance in history— ever first put its squealing voice in the cupped ear of the world only thanks to a horizontal multi-level hierarchy, a non-directional cycle, a cycle matrix, a diverging radial or any of the other infuriating ministrations of Microsoft PowerPoint.
PowerPoint is the market-standard software package for dressing up fatuous ideas with profundity; as such it appeals to fools, blaggers and dilettantes. In the grand scheme of western commerce, that makes it a very, very big deal indeed. For some — notably change managers and management consultants — it appears to be the sole means of communication with each other and the outside world. Adeptness at PowerPoint, the willingness to tinker around to get snappy slide transitions and the like, is a core skill of an aspiring middle manager (and a quick way to pick up the fundamental syntax of this new idiom). For we recipients — we supplicants — it is the craggy back wall of the Platonic grotto to which we are chained and indentured.
One uses PowerPoint to generate “decks” — animated presentations of “content”, arranged on “slides” — which create pervasive collective delusions, promising much and delivering nothing to powerless subordinates and guileless superiors. The idea is to overawe or baffle an audience into believing you have something useful to add to the organisation. This is easier to do with animated transitions and hexagon clusters than it is with a traditional memorandum, in 11 point Times New Roman, dropped into the senior partner’s mail tray. Hence the inexplicable success of a software package that. functionally. is a disaster, even by Microsoft’s extraordinary standards.
PowerPoint’s linguistic foundation comprises not just the traditional Roman alphabet but a supplemental lexicon of wingdings, pull-outs, bullets and animated transitions through which one can communicate in ways previously alien to the Indo-European tradition.
That a linguistic tradition dating back to the birth of Vedic Sanskrit has not, until now, found any use for the vertical chevron list or the circular bending process ought to tell you something about the world we live in. Still, this makes management speak a sort of base sixteen to ordinary English’s decimal; an illegitimate off-spring of our historical linguistic traditions and perhaps the first genuinely new dialect to emerge since Latin five thousand years ago.
- “Use to show large amounts of hierarchical information progressing horizontally.”
- “Use to represent a continuing sequence of stages, tasks, or events in a circular flow. Each shape has the same level of importance. Works well when direction does not need to be indicated.”
- “Use to show the relationship to a central idea in a cyclical progression.”
- “Use to show relationships to a central idea in a cycle.”
- “Use to show pictures with associated descriptive text. Small hexagons indicate the picture and text pair.”
- ’Use to show a progression or sequential steps in a task, process, or workflow, or to emphasize movement or direction.
- “Use to show a long or non-linear sequence or steps in a task, process, or workflow.”