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So true

 
#1 So true
19/09/2006 15:41

lemming

http://www.martinkihn.com/salon.html

I fully agree with the 'prostitution' bit

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#2 RE: So true
19/09/2006 22:35

Beng to lemming (#1)

This review is absolutely hilarious (and in some ways true)! While I disagree with the reviewer on some points, I can understand where he's coming from.

I agree, for example, that:

- MCs obsess about travel (you would, if you traveled 80-100% of the time)

- Most analysts and associates do not make much more than their counterparts in industry (if you divide salary by actual hours worked). However, once you break the Sr. Associate or Manager level, the pay rises much higher and faster than industry.

- To be a MC is to be somewhat on the defensive (at least to the rank-and-file of your client's organization, who are threatened by who and what you represent)

- Many consultants don't know what they're doing (remember that new analysts have 0 years of work experience, and new associates have maybe 4 years of work experience, and not necessarily in the same industry/function as the client's)

- And yes, my parents still do not really understand what it is I really do for a living ("what can you possibly tell Company X for $500 an hour that they do not already know?").

However, I'm sure most people on this Board will agree that the review is clearly an oversimplification. A plant manager bragging about his 20 years of manufacturing experience doesn't impress me...if his plant is dirty, inefficient, and unprofitable! A marketing manager proud of his 20 years of sales and marketing experience doesn't doesn't mean squat to me...if his company's market share has been declining for the last 5. And this is often the part of the issue...the poorer the performance of the manager, the more defensive he/she usually is.

This is actually a nice segue to a "Fit" interview question that I always ask. Let's see who gives the best answer (experienced consultants, let the newbies answer)....

"You're a new Associate at XYZ Consulting, and your first job was to visit a plant in Podunk, Iowa (a fictitious town in the middle of nowhere). You are met by the plant manager, who somehow got a hold of your CV (not impossible). After introducing yourself, he looks at you straight in the eye, and says, 'I see that you have absolutely no background in manufacturing. I have been running this plant for the last 10 years, and I have 30 years experience in manufacturing. What can you possibly tell me, boy, that I don't already know? Why don't you just pack up and go home to mommy."

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#3 RE: So true
19/09/2006 22:40

Beng to Beng (#2)

By the way, something like this actually happened to one of my colleagues when we were just new associates.

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#4 RE: So true
20/09/2006 00:17

hoping to be a consultant to Beng (#3)

Interesting question!

How about: "I am not here to tell you what you don't know; I am here to work with you to use what you know. I want to get all that invaluable knowledge and experience out of you and work with you to make sure none of it goes to waste.I want to make sure you realise just how important everything you know is"

Or would that be asking for a hiding?

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#5 RE: So true
20/09/2006 03:23

Beng to deleted (#0)

Yeaaah.... that response will probably get you 5 lashings, at best. At worst, the plant manager will call up 5 of his burliest union workers to take you somewhere out back where the grass is tall....

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#6 RE: So true
20/09/2006 11:20

uh oh to Beng (#5)

uh oh

so what would be a good answer then?

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#7 RE: So true
20/09/2006 11:52

vodka to Beng (#5)

how about: "I appreciate your concerns. However, our firm has extensive experience with manufacturing issues. If you let our team perform an initial analysis and come back to you, promptly with initial plan of action then you can see for yourself whether our recommendations warrent anymore of your time."

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#8 RE: So true
20/09/2006 14:52

ooh to Beng (#5)

"At worst, the plant manager will call up 5 of his burliest union workers to take you somewhere out back where the grass is tall...."

Beng - some MC's I know would actually enjoy this.

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#9 RE: So true
20/09/2006 14:57

Bash to vodka (#7)

one reason why MCs are hired that Martin Kihn failed to mention is that there is no dearth of insecure managers who do not have the courage to take responsibility for their decisions... they need us, and you know what some of us do prey on their insecurities....

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#10 RE: So true
20/09/2006 15:55

Young'un to Bash (#9)

Like some of the others, I would probably say that we are there, not because we know more, but because we can use what they know to their own advantage.

Along with the team's experience of the industry, we also understand that it is often best practice and innovation from other industries that can also give a company the competitive egde over competitors (then give an example). Crucially, this is the point. We are working with your company to use your knowledge, as well as our knowledge which includes what is going on inside the board rooms of some of your closest competitors, to become the industry leader (or to solve whichever issues they have). We have the capabilities to do this because many of our people have worked in the industry for several years (perhaps big up the team), and bring with them an enviable insight into the strategic decisions being made by some of the biggest names in the industry. Ultimately we're here to make sure the best decisions are made for your firm.

This allows you to step back and take a new perspective, a holistic assessment of what is happening and the issues facing your company. And not only this, my role will be to do the work to get you there so you don't have to, and your firm can concentrate on doing it's business.

Howzat Beng? Any good? I really hope you aren't interviewing me nest week!

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#11 RE: So true
20/09/2006 15:56

vodka to Beng (#5)

how about: "I appreciate your concerns. However, our firm has extensive experience with manufacturing issues. If you let our team perform an initial analysis and come back to you, promptly with initial plan of action then you can see for yourself whether our recommendations warrent anymore of your time."

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#12 RE: So true
21/09/2006 04:48

Beng to vodka (#11)

Above all else, the important thing is to remain calm and exude confidence...not surprisingly, one of the things we look for when judging candidates during interviews.

Like all case or fit questions, there are several right answers. Vodka hit on one of them. The client didn't hire YOU per se, it hired your FIRM. So while you may not have the requisite experience, the rest of your team does (there's a reason why MCs hunt in packs!). You can continue by saying that your role in this engagement is not to provide subject matter expertise, but to provide analytical or modeling support, for example.

And I *guarantee* that by the time you're done with this engagement, you'll be a subject matter expert in whatever the project was about. We hire very quick learners, not idiots, after all....

By the way, 10 years of industry experience (especially if it's for the same employer) is not the same as 10 years of MC experience. 10 years of industry experience is a year's experience repeated 10 times. Chew on that one.

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#13 In the real world....
21/09/2006 05:11

Beng to Beng (#12)

I should add that in the real world, nobody (at least in my firm) goes into a client cold. Meaning: before we start a new engagement, we'll spend the prior week (or least the prior weekend) boning up on everything we can lay our hands on about that industry or functional area. Nobody really steps into a client office or plant ignorant about the client, its issues, its industry, the problems facing its industry, the background of all the key people they're going to meet, etc.

We don't set up our young analysts and associates to fail, you know. We stack the deck such that they always come out smelling like roses.

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#14 RE: In the real world....
21/09/2006 10:23

Beth to Beng (#13)

What do we do? Say the stuff people with a career to build in that organisation daren't, do the stuff they won't -or can't, as, again, they have a career to build in that organisation.

Which is I suspect one of the reason's we are hated- if we turn up, it usually means management want something to happen and we are about to wreck someone's day....

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#15 RE: In the real world....
21/09/2006 13:09

anon to Beth (#14)

Read this and considered it to be amusing and interesting. It also suggests a quite macabre outcome for consulting. With some experience under my belt (ha ha), including some in Manufacturing Consulting I'd like to add to concerns about how real world it actually is.

I don't doubt some of this happens, but I do doubt that all of it does.

A manufacturing consulting experience for me was not entirely unlike this. It was also not as gruesome. I got past the equivalent of the plant manager phase (nice bloke actually) - if I'd started bellowing management jargon in the canteen or had turned my nose up at the food it might have been different, I don't know. I didn't - and it lead to various other meetings - one was tough.

'I'm working on manufacturing contracts worth millions everyday, so why should I have this meeting?' said one Manager. My response was to explain what the consultancy assignment involved. It was no longer a problem.

Vodka did give a reasonable response. Young'un's was not bad either - although it did open up a few other concerns. It would not be a bad starting point at the 'boning up' or prep stage.

For example in reality you'd probably get less time between very noisy machines, zone restriction control formalities and so on during a site tour. It would probably be 'just out of time' as it is.

Beth's concern about 'What do we do?' is a necessary reflection I reckon - something we should be aware of.

But there are responses. Friends and family get answers from me (sometimes!) as well as frowns. Clients do not always get the same answers from me, and I don't reckon that they always get the same answers from other consultants either.

It would be quicker if they did, but it would be also be wrong.

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