The PowerPoint from Hell

General Stanley McChrystal, head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has provided a perfect example of how not to create document: a PowerPoint slide that purports to explain the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan.

Related image

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General McChrystal said. In other words, never. This image is the worst example in history of spaghetti documentation.

Now, compare that monstrosity with a simple document created internationally renowned tax expert Dr. Alvin Rabushka at Stanford University.

Dr. Rabushka has proposed a 15% flat tax for Canada. This would collect the same amount of revenue that the government currently collects, without having to wade through multi-page, hyper-complicated tax form documents and software.

The good doctor even designed a form the size of a postcard that could be filled out in about five minutes.

It’s estimated this simple document could save Canadians $30 billion when you factor in:

  • the time and effort spent getting receipts and preparing tax returns
  • the cost to hire accountants and lawyers to sort through the massive tax code
  • the cost to employ vast armies of tax collectors their support staff

I can think of no two documents with more different content and results.

The PowerPoint explains nothing, saves no money and may even indirectly contribute to the war’s endless multi-billion dollar cost by giving the illusion of comprehension to an incomprehensible situation.

The tax form is clear, simple and explicit, and would save billions of dollars.

Which document would you prefer to manage?