Consultents. Who needs them?

To anybody who has worked in industry as long as I have, this attention-grabbing piece from Simon Caulkin in yesterday’s Observer comes as no surprise.

By the end of the 20th century, management consultancy was a $100bn-a-year business. Considering that there is no accepted body of theory or practice for consultants to sell, it is not a profession, is unregulated and is not subject to anything resembling a Hippocratic oath, that is a remarkable total. 

And, pray sir, how did they do it? 

‘Consultants succeeded in large part by assuming the outward appearance of a profession … even as they avoided the most confining elements of professional status like state regulation, individual accreditation and, most remarkably, professional liability.’ If their remedies don’t work, well, there are no guarantees in management. If ethical issues arise, that’s normal in an emerging profession. Though it played a huge part in developing Enron’s strategy, the management consultancy McKinsey has faced few searching questions over the company’s catastrophic collapse. 

Nice work if you can get it, and you can (certainly) get it if you try. (My apologies to the late Ira Gershwin) 

PS 

Question: What’s the difference between a management consultant and a used-car salesman?  

Answer: A used car salesman knows when he is lying

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