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June 6, 2008

Toyota Chief: Refrain from Using PowerPoint

Garr Reynolds:

An article that got some attention in Japan last week was this one (in Japanese), which says the Toyota Motor Corporation CEO Katsuaki Watanabe urged employees to show self-restraint and stop the wasteful practice of using PowerPoint for the creation of documents (what I call slideuments). The CEO made this statement while talking about the need to reduce costs at Toyota. He is reminding employees to be cost conscious and he used the practice of using PowerPoint as an example of waste. Watanabe said that (in the good old days?) they used to use one piece of paper to make a clear point or proposal, or to summarize an issue, but now everything is in PowerPoint, he says, which uses many sheets of paper and expensive colors...but it's a waste. The CEO is not saying that PowerPoint is necessarily harmful (he does not mention its use for actual presentations), but he is saying printed "documents" made with the presentation tool tend to have less content, less clarity, and yet use more paper/ink and take more time. In the context of a challenging economy and an atmosphere of reducing costs, what would you say of any business practice that (1) takes more time, (2) costs more money, and yet (3) appears to be less effective? In the spirit of kaizen (continuous improvement), even if the waste is small, it must be eliminated.
The Poverty of PowerPoint by Gregory McNamee:
Many forces are at work in the dumbing-down of the world: censorship, historical amnesia, the collapse of general education, doctrinaire domination of the airwaves and other media outlets, the spread of religious fundamentalism, creationism, and other forms of ignorance.

And then there’s PowerPoint.

Microsoft’s market-leading “slideware”—software that produces virtual transparencies for use in public presentations—is responsible for “trillions of slides each year,” writes the statistician, publisher, and design guru Edward R. Tufte in his provocative booklet The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. And not just any old slides. PowerPoint’s popular templates, Tufte argues, are responsible for an explosion in useless data stupidly displayed, for these ready-made designs “usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis.”

Posted by Jim Zellmer at June 6, 2008 8:21 AM
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