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Consulting gurus - or not

#1 Consulting gurus - or not
24/05/2009 20:34


What's with all these consulting gurus crawling blithering out of the woodwork right now? And why are so few of them "qualified" for the job? I mean, if they've only 2,3,4 years of experience (i.e. never made it to managerial grades), then why are they telling me how to run my practice? I know it's hardly a new phenomenon, but it used to only be recruiters who'd come over all chummy, pretending that their 3 months on the Accenture graduate programme meant that they understood the industry inside-out. Not that a lack of experience is a barrier to giving good advice, but there's some correlation between the two things. We don't impose Analysts' bright ideas unfettered on our clients' CEOs, so there's no reason why we should expect less for our own firms.

What's happened to the retired partners and ex-clients holding forth on our industry? Surely they can't all have jetted off to the Carribean to wait out the recession, leaving us with the unemployed redundants to hypothesise their "thought leadership" in gargled chunks every two hours.

Roll on the economic recovery so we can get these nouveau-guru out of our inboxes and into some office cubicles (preferably sound-proofed).

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#2 RE: Consulting gurus - or not
25/05/2009 08:47

Anon to SP (#1)

Not that I disagree with anything SP says (actually I think he's spot on!), but as regards the old dudes, maybe it's not such a bad thing that they've dropped off the radar. I'm not sure I particularly want to hear the pearls of wisdom offered by the generation that brought us Enron and PFI. Many of the old dudes are bull$hitters just as much as the

nouveau-gurus, except that they have hair growing out of their ears and people listen to them because they incorrectly think that age of a dinosaur = experienced = knows what they're talking about. Actually, many of these guys may have 30 years' experience, but it's simply 5 years repeated 6 times over. And besides, they're mostly over-paid for what they do, and it's about time they got their snouts out the trough and made way for some fresh blood.

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#3 RE: Consulting gurus - or not
25/05/2009 10:01

SP to Anon (#2)

Anon is right that there isn't necessarily a lot of benefit in replacing excessively "green" gurus with excessively "silver" ones. Certainly, I don't yearn for a return to the days when gurus seemed ignorant of modern day-to-day consulting practices (computers, email, etc.). It does seem that we've gone between from one extreme to the other though. What about something in the middle - people with (say) 10 years of consulting experience who haven't forgotten what the coal-face looks like, but having had a few years introduction to managing a professional services firm can start to make informed recommendations?

I agree that it's good to get a variety of experiences. Certainly the consulting blogs I've seen pop up do a better job of representing the cross-section of our industry than the published books and recruitment pamphlets of only a few years ago. Perhaps I should be clearer on the type of guru I'm interested in. Anyone can be highly expert in their niche, and should be recognised as such, regardless of age or other superficial characteristics. Those blogs I mentioned have allowed some such experts (on particular methodologies and technologies) to rise to the top. There is no reason why an Analyst cannot be an expert on how to apply for graduate jobs successfully - indeed, I'd take their recent experience above a Managing Partner's any day. However, when it comes to leading and managing a firm (this is the strain of "guruism" I'm interested in), I would prefer to receive advice from people who know how things work behind the scenes. Anybody can boldly challenge the status quo, but if (as in one memorable case recently) their understanding of the resourcing process is limited to having a resourcing coordinator hand them work on a silver salver, and if they cannot even articulate how sales and resourcing interrelate, then they are not much use to me. Indeed, I assert that they are not much use to anybody as an advisor.

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