The military needs better Infographics (2010)


A number of things have caught my attention recently that tells me that we need better infographics capabilities within the military.

An Infographic is a visual representation of data, information, knowledge, or processes, and we use it all time.

The above PowerPoint slide was in a brief to Army General Stanley McChrystal and recently made the New York Times with the article titled, “We have met the enemy, and he is PowerPoint.”

This is a causal loop diagram meant to depict relationships and group dynamics within Afghanistan, and it likely made sense to the group of people that worked on it and those who received the brief, but it was released to the public and quickly became known as the “spaghetti” chart and became a symbol of confusion for the overall Afghanistan strategy.

There have also been quotes by Marine General James Mattis on how PowerPoint makes us stupid and Army General H.R. McMaster who banned PowerPoint altogether.

How many times have you seen presentations that contain incomprehensible slides that only confuse the audience? I’m bombarded with them all the time here at CGSC.

With the new focus on ‘Design’ in FM 3.0, I see increased interest in trying to visually depict something in order to communicate the commander’s intent.

Design is not intended to be solely a visual product, but more of a way to apply various frameworks for problems, but I still see the need for improvement.

As we continue to communicate across the variety of platforms, there will be an increase in the need for quality infographics to communicate our data, information, knowledge and processes.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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