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Why nobody’s life ever changed from a PowerPoint deck


“Please review the attached PPT (54 slides)”

We have all been there right? You start a new program, or get briefed on a new solution, alongside its campaign. You have a prep call, followed by the actual call, then the de-brief call, and finally a summarization of all that time in minute notes. What ever happened to SIMPLICITY being the ultimate form of sophistication? In Silicon Valley where simplifying strategy is an art form, why are we still thinking so disproportionately from our left-brain? The logic, the numbers, the data are critical – why don’t we just look at the problem more holistically?

We can view things from a Design Thinking perspective, some would agree or disagree on its modernity. I like the way that Fast Company defines this:

“The right words are important. It’s not “design a chair”, it’s…”create a way to suspend a person”. The goal is to target the right problem to solve, and then to frame the problem in a way that invites creative solutions.”

I want to stand up and sing when Fastco says:

“Getting out of the cube and involving oneself in the process, product, shopping experience or operating theater is fundamental. No one’s life was ever changed by a PowerPoint presentation.”

The Economic Times also makes a valid argument that Human Centered Design is not a new concept, in fact, it’s a commonly referred to business tactic:

“When design and innovation evolve around what humans really need, businesses prosper. Well, what is so new about this? Businesses are meant to service what people want……Contrast this with a situation where designers, along with marketers and business managers, observe people and help redefine the need. This leads to completely new paradigms on solutions.”

Design thinking may not be a miracle cure to business problems both common and isolated, but it can certainly help to create new grounds where silos cannot.

Let’s put it into practice, instead of PPTs how about the following:

Cancel some of those calls – Instead of your default action being to “set up a weekly call,” why don’t you set up time to brainstorm solo and then collaboratively without a set agenda.

Work backwords– We are trained to think of the end product with our KPIs and processes as the foundation. PLEASE try to look at the problem holistically. How do we simply suspend a person; instead of building the chair that beats our competitors’ chairs, hits all the KPIs at once, is under budget, AND is perfectly in-line with our processes? Get back to the main issue at hand.

Burn those PPTs – Instead of adding those extra 45 slides with size 8 font, try to have only 5 concise highlights and use other forms of knowledge share like videos, events, hands-on practicum. Slice content overload – our eyes hurt!

(Header image via Flickr Creative Commons)

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