Key points or presentations

I have been reviewing a friends presentation for a few days, its content is complex and very interesting, the slides have a lot of information and he has included extensive speaker notes.  However I have struggled to follow the story he is trying to tell and come up with a memorable takeaway from the presentation.

So today I started to try and capture in 1 line the key point from each slide, several of the slides had the same point and some seemed to have no point that was relevant to the story being told.  I got about half way through rationalising and sequencing when looked back at my work and realised that it was actually much easier to understand the story as a set of key points that proceeded in a logical progression than to look at the presentation. 

Tonight I found myself unable to sleep and came across an old post by the great Peter Cochrane.  In it he condenses a keynote he had recently given down to a sequence of key points In a couple of minutes it was pretty easy to understand the story he was trying to tell and also to critique it, exactly as I was trying to do, so I am inspired to continue.

Now I have no doubt that a well crafted presentation can have considerable impact especially if delivered by a skilled speaker however I think a list of key points presented in textual format as a story is much easier to distribute, digest, critique and remember.

Here’s the example I am referring to:

  1. Throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s people who knew deep technical stuff (nerds) were derided and discounted. The management attitude was that these people were irrelevant and a pain. Deep tech understanding was not seen as necessary to manage anything. How the world has changed – today some of the richest people in the world are ex-nerds!
  2. This retrograde management attitude had a lot to do with the greater than 85 per cent failure rate of IT programmes through that era, that continues today in industry, defence, education and healthcare. Know-nothing managers are a menace to any industry and profession.
  3. Not including the end user, not understanding the technology and not understanding the difference between data, information and knowledge is not only dangerous – it turns out to be very expensive!
  4. The biggest universal mistake has been to take the old paper processes and transplant them to the screen, and then create even more paper! IT presents a much bigger opportunity to change organisations and operations but, unfortunately, people seem unable to adapt and change in more than one dimension at a time. Contrast the old (50- to 100-years-old) companies to the new (10- to 20-years-old) and it is stark in the way they use IT to create, run and advance the business.
  5. Increasing numbers of mobile workers means the notion of centralised databases are going to be more difficult to sustain. In a lot of companies the transition will be from filing data away in a predetermined structure to finding what a worker needs when they need it, a far more Google-like existence.
  6. We have to think about data, information and knowledge being collected, collated, created and stored by a wide variety of sources and not just think in terms of centralised operations. Mobile workers and young people are a new source of everything. For example, the young jump straight to Google and Wikipedia as their sources, whilst a mobile workforce is hunter/gatherer-like, collecting and creating on the move to meet their immediate need. This is a far cry from the deskbound cultures of old.
  7. And then there is modelling, any kind of modelling, from crowd behaviour and flow in a retail store, to market modelling and ecological economics. We can no longer afford the crude management decision-making tools of the past as it is all getting far too complex for the knee-jerk reaction!
  8. CIOs and their teams have a prime responsibility to keep companies and boards ahead of the game. They have to be the IT and potential threat radar, the thinkers, the modellers, the guiders of the corporate hand. Keeping on top of the latest Office patches isn’t where the action or responsibility lies.
  9. Young people will help transform everything. They think and act differently and come with new expectations and skill sets that often outclass and outflank the established order of the IT department. Most likely they will not work for a centralised and controlling regime, and will certainly usurp the old ways of doing things. This new attitude and skill set needs to be embraced as an opportunity for change rather than being a target for punitive action.
  10. Everything is moving to the edge of networks and organisations – computing power, communication, skills, information and knowledge.
  11. Increasingly the future will be about taking risks – not blind risks – but calculated, modelled, tried and tested risks. And the CIO has a new and key role in the process. IT isn’t an adjunct function of the company; it is central to success and as such needs to be recognised as an asset by boards and managers in general. Unfortunately, IT is one of today’s least-loved corporate functions and seen as some form of creative chastity belt. This has to change fast if organisations are to grow and prosper – the clock is ticking!

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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