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How America Got Hooked On Useless Corporate Consulting

The Consulting Game

A quick informative look at the reality of using consultants.
The best reason to hire them is to CYA. So if something goes wrong you have someone to blame.

This is a great video with many excellent points, but there is one argument that I would like to challenge: the experience argument. There are different types of consulting and coaching practices, and I would argue that some of the best successes we have seen were when I was still doing this work (for a former BCG executive who founded their own boutique), and we actually had NO IDEA about their problems.

This may seem counterintuitive, but the truth is that it forced the team to use all those process-based tools since we didn’t have the answer the client was looking for. Our role then became a process expert, where we ran the initial meetings to get an idea and then went on a deep dive to find the problem using tools that are agnostic to experience. We even got large groups of thousands involved at a time using large group methods to gain insights from the entire company.

Crazy enough, after facilitating these situations, solutions arose from within the company without us ever having had the answer to their problem. They turned things around pretty hard, changing key practices, and then booking our company to do the exact same thing in another daughter company. I was out by then, but from what I hear, it was similarly successful.

The problem is, I guess, not “not having experience,” but rather “pretending to know what you are talking about” when you don’t. I remember my bosses in the pitch going in and, basically with a straight face, saying, “We have no fucking clue how to solve this problem, but in one year, when we are out of here, it will be fixed. Because we have the tools to find out and facilitate the changes.”

I have also worked with those bigger consultancies before, often in tandem, but they are very different. If they don’t know how to change something, they increase their confidence that they do know, throw more buzzwords in, and then increase the number of consultants necessary to get things done in their offer. Mostly because their reasoning is that if you throw more people at it, one will likely find a good answer. Or get fired afterward for “underperforming.”

Will have to read the book mentioned: The Big Con, you can buy the audiobook version below.

Why are big consultant firms hired?

Consulting firms are often hired by organizations to provide expert advice and assistance in various areas such as strategy, operations, finance, and technology. The decision to hire a consulting firm can stem from several reasons, including the need for specialized expertise, additional resources, and an outside perspective.

Career move (corruption)

One common reason why organizations hire consulting firms is to make a career move, which can sometimes involve corrupt practices. This may include hiring a consulting firm to provide a favorable report or recommendation to further one’s career within the organization. In some cases, this can lead to conflicts of interest and unethical behavior, particularly if the consulting firm’s recommendations are not in the best interests of the organization.

Ignorance and incompetence (Peter Principle)

Another reason why organizations may hire consulting firms is due to ignorance and incompetence, also known as the Peter Principle. This occurs when individuals are promoted to a position where they lack the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their job effectively. To compensate for this, the organization may hire a consulting firm to provide guidance and support in areas where they lack expertise. However, this can be costly and may not necessarily address the root causes of the organization’s issues.

Single biggest, most effective ass-covering tool

The most effective ass-covering tool for organizations is often seen as hiring a consulting firm. This is because consultants can provide an objective and independent assessment of an organization’s performance, which can help identify potential issues and provide solutions. This can be particularly useful for senior leaders who are accountable for the organization’s success and may need to demonstrate to stakeholders that they have taken action to address any concerns.

In addition, consulting firms can provide a range of benefits to organizations, such as access to specialized expertise, knowledge transfer, and the ability to implement best practices from other industries. They can also provide additional resources to support an organization’s projects and initiatives, which can help to improve efficiency and productivity.

However, it is important to note that hiring a consulting firm is not a guaranteed solution to an organization’s problems. The success of a consulting engagement often depends on the organization’s willingness to implement the recommendations provided by the consulting firm, as well as the quality of the consultants themselves.

In conclusion, organizations hire consulting firms for a variety of reasons, including the need for specialized expertise, additional resources, and an outside perspective. While consulting firms can provide a range of benefits to organizations, it is important to approach these engagements with caution and ensure that the consultants hired are reputable and qualified. Ultimately, the success of a consulting engagement depends on the organization’s commitment to implementing the recommendations provided and making the necessary changes to improve their performance.

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