Conscious-Business.org.uk

A home for the Conscious Business community in the UK

A great challenger

1 Comment

Some friends dropped in yesterday and put me in mind of Edward Tufte, the great information designer.

For me, he’s a great example of a challenger. I love his image of Stalin presenting to the troops using PowerPoint, strikingly satirizing the totalitarian impact of the software.

And his suggestion that PowerPoint was implicated in the fatal decisions about the Columbia space shuttle can’t have been easy. As he points out “the Columbia Accident Investigation Board found that the distinctive cognitive style of PowerPoint reinforced the hierarchical filtering and biases of the NASA bureacracy”.

Of couse, the CAIB itself  agreed: “as information gets passed up an organization hierarchy, from people who do analysis to mid-level managers to high-level leadership, key explanations and supporting information are filtered out. In this context, it is easy to understand how a senior manager might read this PowerPoint slide and not realize that it addresses a life-threatening situation.”

But I still think it was a brave thing to do – it’s not easy to go against the tide. And yes PowerPoint is still widely used, even worshipped in government and banks (sorry I meant business circles) alike. Are our choices of communication tools another thing that contributes to our seeming ability to fool ourselves about very serious matters?

By the way, Tufte’s wonderful books seem now to be  available at very much more affordable prices. Go get ’em.

Advertisements

Author: Pete Burden

Strategy, Leadership and Organisational Coach I am an experienced strategy, leadership and organisational coach. I work with the MDs of purpose-led businesses - people using the freedom, flexibility, and practicality of business to disrupt the world in positive ways.

One thought on “A great challenger

  1. Have read several of Tufte’s books, very interesting reading.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s