Senior politicians, business leaders and military chiefs gasped in shock at a presentation today when a consultant showed them what a road map really looked like.
Beth Wagner of McKinsey & Co said, ‘When I told these guys I would show them a road map to get from A to B they were delighted, but I knew they expected to see a simple list of consecutive actions that would lead inevitably from chaos to order. When my next slide actually showed a road map between A and B they became distressed.
‘After initial silence, the UK’s William Hague asked what all the different-coloured wiggly lines represented,’ Ms Wagner continued. ‘General Petraeus protested that faced with a complex network such as this, his officers would have to spend hours analysing the alternatives instead of just heading straight for B, bombarding the crap out of everything in their path. Businesswoman Karren Brady even asked me to turn the slide upside down so she could read it.’
Analysts believe the misunderstanding has led to leaders handing out road maps thinking they are being helpful, while without clear guidance those on the ground wander aimlessly. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the world banking crisis, might have been resolved more readily had leaders appreciated their mistake. It is thought that George W Bush started the trend when he not only found creating an itinerary too complex, he couldn’t even pronounce it.
Leaders are believed to be considering a return to top brass tacks and are looking to the past for their basics. ‘We believe there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the good old blueprint,’ said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. ‘This was used successfully for many years despite the lack of adequate front line colour reprographic facilities. It is far better than a road map and you can use it for aerial planning – unless you’re Gaddafi, of course.’