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Consulting: Desulting the Consultants

Having worked as a business and educational consultant, and therefore becoming familiar with consultant-speak, it soon occured to me that consultants often create solutions to problems that don't exist - or at least they didn't exist before the consultant arrived. Enter the HuhCorp [via Dave and Rob] whose motto is, "We do stuff." One of McLuhan's quips was that behind every joke is a grievance...

We spend lots of time sitting around the table having meetings.
All to true. When I worked for a large consulting firm, my billable hour was $450 which I thought would eliminate me from having to attend meetings. In fact, I suspected that absolutely no one would want to talk to me with that kind of meter running and would be about as welcome as a lawyer. Surprisingly, I attended many meetings.

Our female staff members are all hot, so, even if there's nothing to meet about, we'll sit and flirt with them, and charge you for the time.
Yep - I've seen it happen.

When one of our new-age marketing gurus or design experts or consultants has an idea, the rest of us look at him or her with serious expressions and write stuff down on paper.
I worked with a fellow that had very significant credentials in the markteing industry, and deservedly so. He was an interesting guy, yet place him in a meeting with clients or potential clients and suddenly be became a mystagogue and the nature of his speaking took the form of a sermon.

Are you confused yet? Of course you are. And that's just how we like it. Our marketing professionals are constantly coming up with new ways to make you feel inferior and stupid.
Clarity of language, and often thought, is not usually a strength of a marketing consultant. If it were, I suspect meetings would become signifcantly shorter. It is amusing to see the number of consultants that actually attempt to build their programs and processes on ideas like clarity which can crumble like a house of cards if the wrong question is asked.

But this struck me a being quite funny:

Our creative team will come up with design and marketing ideas you never even thought of. How could you? You don't have the talent we do. Don't take it personally. That's our job. That's what we do. We do stuff.

Most consulting companies just provide regular marketing solutions. Not us. We provide groundbreaking solutions. Our marketing solutions are newer than anyone else's, and they sound better because we give them cool titles like "Global Awareness Paradigms," and "Market Consciousness Philosophies," and "Creative Product Re-development Support."

When we deliver your new designs and business strategies to you, they'll be in really snazzy binders that look nice sitting on big, round meeting tables, so you'll think you got your money's worth. When your project has been completed, we'll give you several follow-up phone calls to give the appearance that we even remember who you are or what we sold you.

It's a funny site, yet the jokes are definitely fired by grievances that are often all too apparent. There is also an interesting extension here via Google ads, as Rob has mentioned. I would definitely not be one of the ads on this site [hmmm... actually, maybe I would] - there's a consulting gig in their somewhere;-)

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Hi Chris,

"We don't trust our own people" - I can relate to that quite well. Back in my educator days I helped to pioneer a new approach to schooling. The success and international presence of this school also alienated me within my own school region. Go to other parts of Canada, the U.S., or overseas and people were far more welcoming and receptive.

I'll have a look at the references you mention - thanks.

Hi Rob,
I like this thought a great deal - language from the heart. I forget what I was reading at the time that got me going, but I remember getting fed up and writing Victimization a while back. It was one of those getting it off my chest things.

Why is it we struggle so much with authenticity and clarity? Has materialism become so profound that it is even shaping the spaces between the words?

I can say that I have not practiced the kind of consulting described, yet have been surrounded by it. The other side of the fence is not necessarily better. I have found that often those that seek clarity and speak from the heart often wind up getting the big Monty Python boot-splat from the sky. Clarity and heart are sometimes not the best career move.

Christopher Bailey on Consulting: Desulting the Consultants | 24.01.05 | Comment Permalink

Brian, your post put a smile on my face. It's just like the old joke:

what's the definition of a consultant? Someone who will steal your watch just to tell you the time.

And the sad fact is that it's not always the fault of the consultant. In my previous jobs, we would employ consultants to tell us pretty much what we already knew. Problem was that the organization leadership put more stock in the results of consultants than it did its own staff. If they are "impartial" they must have better ideas, right? (nasty subtext: we don't trust our own people)

That's why I'm always interested in hearing about different takes on consulting. See Stone Yamashita Partners in California and Play in Virginia. Both employ radically different ways of getting clients to think and act thereby defining new methods of effectiveness.

Morning Brian

Yes so much of the site reminded me of my past. Frightening. Does this not get back to your insight about the power of language?

Does not human langauge - that is from the heart - break out of jargon and hence is clear?
Is not then a test of commitment, the clarity of the word?

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