There are all kinds of metrics used in project management—burn rates, task completed, etc.— but I think I’ve found the one metric that can accurately predict the success or failure of any project. I call it the PowerPoint Productivity Index (PPI). It’s calculated like this:

PPI = Number of PowerPoint slides / (number of consultants x months of project)

Your PPI tells you the number of PowerPoint slides each of your consultants produces for every month they work for you. The higher the number the more certain your project will fail.

Why are PowerPoint slides such a reliable predictor of failure? Because everything always works in PowerPoint. Programs compile, data is clean, and users understand everything they need to know. That’s why PowerPoint is entirely unrelated to real word concerns. PowerPoint gives the impression of work accomplished, but it’s usually work that will never be used.

A successful project requires that people get real as quickly as possible. This means real orders entered, real websites shown to real users, or real financial statements reconciled against previous years. It’s only when you see the real results that you understand whether things are going in the right direction.

So, if you’ve been working on a project for several months and all you’ve seen is PowerPoint slides, perhaps it’s time to hit the brakes. Tell your consultants that you won’t attend any more meetings or review any more PowerPoints until you see something that looks like a system. It won’t be perfect the first time. But it will be real—and it will give you a real sense of whether you’re making any progress.


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