Mar 28, 2011

Do You Love to Hate Management Consultants? Who Does?

According to editors of Money, Management Consultant's job is No.3 job in Top 100 America's jobs.

Not because we enjoy grueling travel schedule, punishing deadlines and long hours, but due to

  • Project variety (love it)
  • Teamwork (love it)
  • Satisfaction from solving tough problems. (love it)

Wouldn't you enjoy to advise companies how to grow 20%, or battle a problem? Or maybe create strategies on pricing, IT, operations, sales growth, or cutting costs? Or help companies explore international markets?

You can help companies survive economic upheaval. Who wouldn't respect that?


Job No. 3 out of Top 100 Jobs in America...

As a Management Consultant I am a little surprised. Nearly started to think everyone hated us.

I felt everywhere I turn recently there was a bad story, or a joke about management consultants.

Luckily I can take jokes and had results in increasing manufacturing line efficiency, business process improvements, marketing strategy of educational institutions, training design and delivery, just to name few projects, but I got to question myself regarding the (perceived) value we add.

Good management consultants are worth every penny, (average salary 100 k USD - 200 k USD for Top consultants), but just can't help thinking that might not be what everyone else thinks.

Maybe it is just a bit of bad publicity, nothing to worry about?

Here is what I found recently...

1. Starbuck's CEO Howard Schultz Tells Consultants to Get Lost

This is what Schultz said addressing students of UCLA Anderson School of Management (''How Starbucks Built a Global Brand'' in 2008.)

You can watch the video here, and really sad story about consultants starts around 10 minutes into the video.

''In 1996 Starbucks was going to open the first store in Japan. We did not know what we were doing, Howard Schultz said. Nobody had any international experience yet.

So what did we do as a young company that was public for four years?

We went out, and hired blue-chip consulting firm. It doesn't matter what their name was. We hired them and they produced this thick book, and HUGE bill and they presented to the Board, and they told us ''if you open store in Japan it will be a disaster.'' (stating various reasons: the cost of real estate was too high, you would have to build really small stores, your non-smoking policy would be death march in Tokyo, and lastly - since 80 % of your business is ''to go'' no Japanese consumer of any kind would walk down the street with Starbucks coffee, because Japanese young person would lose face if they ate on the street....)

We looked at that report, we paid the bill and we basically told them to get lost.''

Schultz then proceeded to describe what a huge success opening in Japan was for Starbucks, although they were not sure about that, just had intuition and desire to get global. Young people were queuing in front of the store all night, and it looked so unreal that Schultz was asking someone if they had ''hired an extras?!''

Interesting story from which this upsetting point stuck in my mind:

Management Consultants = Expensive + Useless

Howard Schultz probably wanted to inspire students of UCLA to go for their dreams, and trust their entrepreneurial intuition more. But I remembered the bit about consultants.

2. Linked In Discussion: Consultants ''Copy and Paste''

Linked In group discussion (regarding experience with hiring consultants) revealed bitter disappointment by a senior manager.

He felt that somebody else's ''copy and paste solution that consultant like to apply (and charge) are just not good enough.'' Well, he might be right about copy and paste.

3. HBR Facebook Contest - Humor (To Be) Taken Seriously

Harvard Business Review School of Executive Education has just announced Cartoon Caption Contest contest on their Facebook page.

You should look at the cartoon and enter your caption idea in the comment section.

To vote on your favorite caption, click the like button under the caption.

Take a look at the cartoon here

Out of 50 comments, guess which one earned the most ''likes''? (just checked again right now)

''OK, as our management consultant, we followed all your downsizing recommendations. Now what?''

I voted for that one too, but I saw it as funny, witty, if little ironic. But what if everyone else is seeing it as reality?

What do you think?

By the way the contest is open until next Friday, so you can stil try to beat this one, post your own caption, or vote.

Do you have any experiences with management consultants or if you are one how would you comment all said above? Is this respectable job and what can we do to give it some good publicity?

Next post: How to Become a Management Consultant

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  1. Loved the article - I was googling for 'why people hate management consultants' because at the moment, they look to me like a spectacular waste of time. Which is a pity, because while I would love to share my experience and competence with large companies, I'm not sure I can live with the cynicism of selling out my competence to serve the political ends of the client. And that last bit is what I see every single time.

  2. Hi, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on the article and your own experience.

    Wishing you all the best in your (consulting) career and hope to hear from you again, hopefully with some great news.


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