(I should have posted this
yesterday, when hobgoblins were out and about in the neighborhoods. And the
first half wanders far afield before returning to project leadership concepts.
You can skip the intro and jump
right to that point.)
I was working on some slides when I
noticed that PowerPoint breaks a "rule" maintained by (I think) all other
Microsoft applications. The rule is honored, in fact, by most Windows and even
If you have something selected, such
as a word, and you select Paste, the pasted material replaces your
Try it. Copy some text to the
clipboard (Edit -> Copy or Ctrl+C), select some other text, and then paste
(Edit ->Paste or Ctrl+V). You probably do it automatically.
It always works like that. Except in
In fact, PowerPoint isn't even
internally consistent. If you have text selected and you paste other text,
pasting replaces your selection, the same way Word and Outlook and Gmail work.
But if you have a graphic selected and you paste, PowerPoint adds your
pasted material, rather than replacing the graphic.
And exactly right.
For most people, PowerPoint's
image-past is not just the desired behavior, it's the expected behavior.
Granted, they might not expect it if
they actually thought about it. However, few people (outside of user interface
folks and oddballs like me) think about it. Rather, they want computers to have
a DWIM function - do what I mean.
Virtually every time I paste an
image into PowerPoint, I intend to add it to the slide. When I'm manipulating
images, I often have something already selected, something that I was working
on. That's a normal pattern for building up images in PowerPoint. I could
unselect it first, of course, but that's an extra step.
Someone on the PowerPoint team
recognized many years ago that making it mentally consistent - DWIM, do
what I mean - was more important than making it technically consistent.
"Consistency is the Hobgoblin of
People remember Emerson's statement...
but many remember only part of it. He actually wrote, "A foolish consistency is
the hobgoblin of little minds."
It's more important to be consistent
with people's expectations, I believe, than to be precisely consistent.
For example, I try to be consistent
in how I treat my kids. But now that my daughter is driving, does that mean I
should also let my 11-year-old son drive? Of course not. (My wife isn't fully
convinced I should actually let our daughter drive either.)
Likewise, I'll afford some people on
a project more latitude than others, based on their competence and experience
and my own history with them. I'll let a strong team member do most tasks on
her own, but there may be a few tasks where I ask her to check in with me
between plan and action. As long as the pattern and expectations are clear,
this "inconsistent consistency" not only produces better project results but
happier team members. The "inconsistent" part is purely mechanical; when you
look deeper, the interactions are consistent with their expectations of me:
that I'll support them, coach them, be there when they need me, stay out of
their way when they don't, and take the heat for critical decisions or
That, I think, is the consistency to
(I don't always get it right, of
course. But I try to do it better each time, and I look to team members to help
me grow as a leader.)
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