During the book writing process, we were focused on the various complex strategic assessment situations that would interest our audience of strategic thinkers and implementers.
The McChrystal Afghanistan PowerPoint slide: can you do any better?
Is the "Afghanistan Stability/COIN Dynamics – Security" slide a set of meaningless squiggles or a comprehensive guide to Afghanistan? And how would you improve on it?
Gen Stanley McChrystal, leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy Illustration: PA
Well you can see why Nato hasn't cracked Afghanistan yet. The Microsoft PowerPoint slide which drove US military General Stanley McChrystal to declare that "When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war" at a briefing in Kabul last summer has led to big questions about the world's reliance on the presentation software.
As Julian Borger wrote yesterday:
The diagram has an undeniable beauty. Done the right way (embroidered perhaps) it would make a lovely wallhanging and an ideal gift for the foreign policy-maker in your life. But it is a bit of a red herring … It was designed to convey the complexity of the Afghan conflict. But the big problem with PowerPoint is that it makes everything seem simple.It does not link ideas or facts in any kind of human narrative. It just lists them as bullet-points, a shopping list of things to do or jobs already done.
So, here's the Datablog challenge: how would you do it? Is there another way to present the information that doesn't look like it has been put together by a kitten with a ball of string?
Post links to them in the comment field below. The best will get displayed here. Or could even change the course of the war. Or something like that.
Using the Occam's approach for strategic assessment is not going to cut it here because of the obvious reason.
If I observe it from this perspective, victory and defeat will be apparent. ... After estimating the advantages in accord with what you have heard, put it into effect with strategic power (shin) supplemented by field tactics that respond to external factors. As for strategic power, [it is] controlling the tactical imbalance of power (ch'uan) in accord with the gains to be realized. "
A part of this solution could be found in Sawyer's translation of Li Quan's book. ... You do know what are the factors and how to connect the dots. Do you know it?
A Brief Abstract of our Compass Solution Model
- Identify the PESTLE specifics of each strategic principal;
- Determine the validity of each principal by its weight and its balancing point to the Big Tangible Picture;
- Examine the tangibility of the information behind each strategic principal;
- Analyze the probable and the possible action of each strategic principal before connecting it to the Big Tangible Picture (BTP); and
- Lead with the assessed choice that offers the best benefits and the minimal to zero drawbacks to the implementers.
Comments From the Compass Desk