Small Wars Journal

Wired Magazine: Microsoft Helps The Army Avoid 'Death By PowerPoint'

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 8:44am
(Featuring a special guest appearance by the one and only Doctrine Man)

Officially, Dave Karle is an executive communications manager at Microsoft. Less officially, his colleagues have given him another name: the Pied Piper of PowerPoint. His audience? The U.S. Army.

Except that Karle isn't trying to get the Army to use Microsoft's presentation software. PowerPoint is already ubiquitous within the Army — to the chagrin of many an officer. Karle's mission is much harder: stopping the Army from using it stupidly.

"I'm chasing the bad ideas out of presentations," Karle tells Danger Room by phone from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He's there for a meeting at the Combined Arms Center, the Army's central nervous system for writing and spreading its doctrine. Working with an Army major at the Center, John Roberson, Karle — himself a 15 year Army veteran who served in Iraq — has come up with what he alternately calls Modern Presenter or the Modern Presentation Method, all to revive the poor headquarters officers who've suffered Death By PowerPoint.

More from Spencer Ackerman at's Danger Room.


RationalHawk (not verified)

Sun, 06/19/2011 - 2:10am

"Im chasing the bad ideas out of presentations," ~ Karle

Oh Karle... if only that were the main problem with use of PPT by the military.

I work in "knowledge management" and "lessons learned" in Afghanistan.

Here in theater we have units that use powerpoint exclusively to plan, document, track and report everything from reconstruction projects to complex operations, Intel Summaries (GRINTSUMS - GRAPHICAL Intel Summaries) and even close combat engagements by attack helicopters...

Powerpoint is used over the more appropriate technology because it is a familiar technology and is visually stimulating. (Seriously, who likes to actually have to READ?!?!)

I pray for a virus in our .mil networks that will corrupt every instance of MS PPT on our machines... we might actually be forced to properly track and report events and to actually think about the substance of what we are doing and trying to do... instead of just how well it looks and briefs.

The proliferation of "commanders eyecandy" has make us stupid and our amazing technology has, in many ways, hindered us in this fight.

I'm dabbling in writing on this issue and would be interested in ideas and comments (offline or here) on this issue...