Cliché of the week: The Parthenon (and contest results)

Doug Neff

Written by

Doug Neff

Behold, our revolutionary company strategy! It’s so compelling and powerful that we had to build a temple in order to contain it. The foundation represents our technology platform, which is the foundation of our strategy. The pillars represent…

Sound familiar?

You’ve probably seen the Parthenon slide in a variety of styles and colors (the green color represents future initiatives and the blue color represents…) and you may have even used your own Parthenon slide to explain your company’s five-year strategy.

We’re not here to place blame or criticize. In fact, let’s declare a day of amnesty and forgive the sins of the past. After all, you were just doing the best you could with the tools you had, right? And now that you see the cliché, you can look to the future and unleash your creative energies on the next version of your company strategy.

Like our other clichés, the Parthenon slide has been so overused that it now brings a destructive element to any presentation that uses it. This slide didn’t work for the Greeks (in their early presentations to the Roman empire), and it probably won’t work for you.

So what can you do instead?

  1. Tell a story. How did your new vision/strategy come about? What makes it resonate with you? Instead of building a vision-house, use a good story to captivate the imagination of your audience.
  2. Build a unique graphic. No one said expressing your strategy visually was a bad idea; just don’t settle for uninteresting. Find the shape that truly expresses your company’s unique take on the world. Go creative. Hire an artist. Get out the finger paints. Make something new!
  3. Refine your vision. If your vision has enough parts to build a house with, then it’s probably a little too complicated. Spend your creative time simplifying it.
  4. Write it out. Sometimes words are best. Maybe everyone needs to receive a well-crafted letter from you regarding the future of the company. Print it on thick parchment paper. Seal the envelope with a red wax seal. Have them hand-delivered by messengers. Not every presentation takes place in the conference room. (And I bet they won’t forget about your vision.)

There are a hundred other solutions to the Parthenon slide. Leave your ideas in the comments so we can all try something new next time.

Contest winners

Many thanks to everyone who submitted ideas to our last cliché post. We randomly selected three winners:

  1. Jessica R.
  2. Jan S.
  3. Jim D.

We’ll be contacting them via email and sending them an autographed copy of Slide:ology. We loved hearing from everyone, so keep the comments coming and look forward to more contests in the future!