Friday, 24 November 2017

The Gospel according to Powerpoint

I must make a confession. I am not a regular church-goer, either here in Germany or back in the UK. Having said that, I do have many memories of church from my childhood, and I have to say that most of those are related to what marketing people today would call the 'experience' rather than the 'communication.'

Church-related communication has always been charmingly amateur, in my experience. Amateur in a positive way: not slick, not 'professional', communication that looks hand-made. For all the 'hand-written' and 'hand-crafted' yet carefully designed communication that commercial brands and enterprises put out these days in an attempt to appear authentic, they could well take a leaf out of the local church's poster advertising the Summer Fete, or the parish magazine. It's amateur in the sense that the people producing these communications genuinely love what they are doing.

As for the 'experience' - well, that's quite different, and I'm not in any way alarmed by this inconsistency. My memories of the experience, certainly in retrospect, include feelings such as wonder at the mystery of it all and, yes, awe in its original sense. Whether it's stained glass windows, bells ringing, organ music, polished candlesticks and pews, ancient texts or stories from two thousand years ago, there is plenty to stimulate the mind, the senses and the spirit.

So imagine how I felt when I attended a church service on a recent trip to the UK (not to the beautiful church pictured above, I hasten to add) and heard the language of the boardroom and the management consultant. Now, admittedly, the management types pinched the idea of a 'vision' from the spiritual types to start with, but it was rather alarming to hear it played back in the context of a 'Vision Statement' for this particular church. Not just that, but talk of priorities and process, enablement and empowerment, roadmaps and workshops. I didn't actually hear mention of Change Drivers and KPIs but I suspect they may be part of the package.

My view of the beautiful stained glass windows was somewhat obscured by a series of posters depicting a number of 'pillars' relating to the 'Vision', which looked as if they had come from a Powerpoint design-your-own-strategy-presentation background format.

Maybe I'm over-sensitive and others less close to the world of business will welcome this more down-to-earth approach (is it?) - and maybe God moves in mysterious ways - but I would rather leave the bullshit bingo in the boardroom.

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