What Problem Were You Trying to Solve When You Hired The Consultants?
(warning: this is a hot take).
I want to stand up and cheer for this series of posts from Zeus Jones, but i kind of also want to call BS. I agree with 90% but think they’re setting up the wrong strawman.
Who wants to be the one defending the classic management consulting firms? Not me, but to a certain degree, any professional service provider who’s talking to a client about “digital” or innovation (or the related work) is a management consultant. Including my firm and Zeus Jones.
I don’t think management consulting is going away. We get hired to provide external perspective, experience-informed recommendations, and to shine the light on the right problems to solve. We provide short term support to get our clients through complex issues where a different perspective can actually create clarity.
I completely agree that the problem is cultural, that there’s something glitched in the DNA of most companies, and they won’t accept the injections from great consulting firms like Zeus Jones.
I also believe that every organization will need to be more adaptable, open, creative, empathetic, collaborative, etc. Whatever, but yes to working differently.
I love the framework of Imagination and Ingenuity. it works on a lot of really smart levels, and every company would benefit from both. It’s the really smart, swaggery, controversy-baiting thought leadership that great firms like Zeus are known for. It’s not dissimilar to the kind of thought leadership that gets companies like Ideo, Redscout, Frog Design hired. To consult with leaders. To solve problems and change their businesses. You know: Consultants to management.
But, let’s focus on the core problem: Leadership and the courage to play the long game. Consultants get hired by good, smart people to help them make hard decisions. If those decisions don’t lead to the right outcomes that’s probably because someone made the wrong decision and/or the execution fell apart.
I think the real villain is the concept of “Maximize shareholder value on a quarter by quarter basis” and i think the evil assistant is probably private equity (which drives orgs to forsake long term investments in favor of doubling down on “now”). And, then throw in unbelievable executive compensation formulas that front loads options and equity.
I’ll be thinking about this series of articles for a while, which is exactly what the provocative folks at Zeus wanted!