Thursday, November 09, 2006


Corporate America and the kidnapping of Powerpoint

Enterprise Architects should be the police of the enterprise running around telling folks to put down that mouse...

Kathy Sierra made me think about something. Have you ever considered how much architecture actually occurs via Powerpoint? Whether it is presently distilled information to IT executives who don't have the capacity to understand the finer details or the savage habit of enterprisey folk allowing their software vendors to determine their architecture for them, this practice is on the rise.

Lots of folks are now into new presentation styles where they are ditching Powerpoint bullets. I guess folks have at least realized that firing bullets at your audience isn't a good thing, but they need to take this notion one step further. Have you ever attended a presentation by Richard Stallman of GNU fame? Ever notice how he uses zero slide decks? He even turns the lights back on in the room. Maybe we could consider his leadership as part of the new enterprise 2.0?

Enterprisey folks haven't yet realized that this is the participation age. The second you dim the lights, you move from a two-way dialog to a one-way lecture with all of the repeat-after-me touchpoints. Today, I have been forced to practice a presentation which is shorthand for constraining myself to a script. I feel sorry for all the attendees that have to listen to me give a canned presentation as the more I do canned work, the more my delivery suffers. Some situations where folks repeat things, they actually get better, but for me I start the journey of the downward spiral.

Wouldn't it be better if enterprises would allow for folks to reconfigure their presentations for a particular audience. Part of the problem when we present though is that we honestly have no clue about our audience. After all, the notion of representation makes knowing your audience highly problematic. Another habit that is gaining steam in corporate America is asking for feedback after a presentation. This is somewhat ceremonial in nature as most folks really have no desire to incorporate anything received. After all, we must stick to the script.

Would someone kidnap those process weenies who are probably thinking right now that Powerpoint bullets help keep speakers on track. If you don't understand why their argument is lame, please excuse yourself from the computer and find the highest roof you can and jump off it.

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