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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Killed Management Consulting?

Once upon a time, there was an industry called management consulting...and it wasn’t about computers.

There wasn’t an internet, so as a consultant, I was passed around a CEO grapevine. The users paid more attention to their grapevine, since it was their best source of necessary information.

Major consulting firms came to a point where they either became their practice in information technology or diminished and disappeared.

Today, the information that management consultants lovingly doled out is available on a browser, and if not from me, then from someone else. Nothing can be hidden.

Management consulting was an early outlier of the current business transformation. We had a fifty year run as a hot industry, and were transformed by the internet. Today costs are down, information is easily available, and the remaining consultants are using the same technology that killed their industry to create better delivery and results.

How does this pattern play against your industry?

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Unknown said...


Things have been changing; technology has caught up to the promised productivity; the workplace has evolved - using technology to replace staffed roles, note that travel agents are rare now.

The era of metering out information and interpreting how it applies has become a do-it-yourself activity through your browser.

Now a consultant gives away value then helps the client get results - such as providing doers as needed, when needed.

Evolution of the internet has changed the old model forever.

Thoughthebrowser said...

Evolution of the internet has changed how we do everything as fast as we can figure out how to change.
Good point!

Thomas Meylan, Ph.D. said...

It's kind of tempting to be cynical on this topic, and I'm in the mood to succumb to temptation.

Experience indicates that there are two groups of intellectually deficient groups of people involved in this market. It's hard to determine which group is more critical here, so in no particular order, one group is the consultants who don't have the chops to improve approaches to corporate improvement. I'd be surprised if 5% of the people holding themselves out as management consultants could find their hinders with two hands and a well marked anatomical chart.

The other group are the managers who believe that they have it all figured out. People who have it figured out don't need consultants, right? As we see from the republican presidential race, complete idiots can run amok claiming to have all the answers, when obviously they are clueless. This appears to be endemic in American culture, including business cultures.

Those two groups, my friends, make for an extremely tough business climate.

Carol Covin said...

On a slightly tangential plane, which I'm only starting to read about, small doctor's practices are going away, in favor of working as employees at a hospital or in large practice centers. I noticed it when a psychiatrist I know said he was not only having trouble bringing in partners to his small practice, even graduating medical students didn't want to set up their own practices anymore.

Thoughthebrowser said...

Hi Carol!

Ah, medicine!

2 years ago I was talking with Clay Christensen who said the reason a hospital couldn't break even was they had three business models under one roof (Through The Browser, Clayton Christensen). I've since met some businessmen setting up urgent care facilities that can be strongly profitable providing excellent medicine. So we are seeing a shift from "one shop treats all" to "pick the right tool for the job."

I have patronized roadside super glue and duct tape patches, hospitals, clinics, and urgent care facilities. In all cases, when they are good, they are very very good, and when they are bad they can kill you.

Gets down to No matter how hard you do the wrong thing, it never quite works.

...and thank you for commentin'!