Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Have you ever eaten salad with a spork? Or tried to change the face plate on an electrical socket with the screwdriver from a Swiss army knife? Either tool will get the job done, but not without frustration.

A certain company I used to work for seemed to have a workforce composed entirely of people content to eat with a spork. Regardless of the nature of the task, each and every deliverable was composed, edited, and presented in Powerpoint.

For example, one colleague wrote the functional specifications for a software program we were developing entirely in Powerpoint. Word would have been much cleaner and easier to use, but I don’t think she even knew it was installed on her system.

Complex financial summaries were also delivered in Powerpoint. Nevermind that all the calculations were done in Excel. It was too much to ask executives to look at a spreadsheet. One exclaimed “my eyes!” when someone opened Excel during a meeting. So we had to copy the tables out of Excel and paste them onto Powerpoint slides. I’m not sure what the difference was, but the execs seemed to like it better.

My favorite example, though, is the time I prepared a year-end summary of my department for another (executive-level) manager in my group. I wrote the bulleted summary in Word. I then copied and pasted—with no alteration whatsoever—the Word document into Powerpoint. I sent both files to the other manager for him to review.

He responded “I really liked the Powerpoint summary. That was a useful, easily-understood summary and will help us with resource planning. I didn’t like the Word version nearly as well though. I wouldn’t use that one with [VP of our group].”

“They were exactly the same.” I told him. “I just copied and pasted the text from Word into Powerpoint.”

“Well I didn’t like that version as well. The Powerpoint presentation was much more concise.”


  1. I started to read this post, but then thought "this would be much better, easier, and more concise in PowerPoint."

  2. My pop didn't coin the phrase, but he uses it a lot: "you can't fix stupid".

  3. This came at a perfect time. I'm just about ready to start preparing a 3-hour powerpoint presentation that will hopefully justify my existence.

    By the way, is it possible to put this comment into a powerpoint slide and upload it to blogger?

  4. Grizzly is right. You totally could have written this post in PowerPoint, and then just posted the slides in the blogger editor. That would've been pretty funny. Not that it wasn't funny anyway. It just would've been funniER.

  5. Love it. Sometimes you wonder how people are in the position they are in and wonder if it is a prerequisite to be idiotic.

  6. I swear, PowerPoint is the one piece of software that I really wish Microsoft had never created. Or at the very least that they had made it much harder to use. My brain tries to claw it's way out of my head every time I have to sit through a PP presentation, and it is just so overused.

  7. It has been my experience that when someone above wants something a certain way, no matter how I feel about, it is best to deliver, if i debate, waffle or disagree, I generally move up the RIF list.

  8. Bob, precisely why I have a blog. I never complained about using powerpoint to the person asking for it. The sad thing is that while most of us would probably hesitate to list powerpoint amongst the value-add skills on our resumes, it may in fact be the most important skill we have from a career standpoint.