In 1996, 1,788 business books were published in the United States — and U.S. consulting firms took in an estimated $43 billion in revenues. Coincidence? The Fast Company Consultant Debunking Unit (CDU) thinks not. The CDU detects a pattern here, one that has been growing stronger with each passing year: More and more consultants are writing books (or, more accurately, having books written for them). The books transform the consultants’ pitches into “products,” which they then sell as consulting services. The consulting services provide case studies and anecdotes — which in turn become fodder for the next book. To the consultants, it’s a virtuous circle; to others, it’s a vicious cycle.
But how does a consultant break through the clutter and create a best-seller? How can a consultant’s search for excellence yield book sales that are estimated at 6 million to 8 million copies worldwide — on the model of Tom Peters? What’s the one highly effective habit that a consultant needs to sell more than 10 million books — as Stephen Covey has done?
The answer, unearthed by the CDU after long hours spent in libraries and in bookstores both real and virtual, was hiding in plain sight: another kind of a circle. Consultants scratch one another’s backs — and do so on the backs of one another’s books.
Bennis, Warren. “On Becoming a Leader” (Perseus Press, 1994).
Bennis, Warren, and Patricia Ward Biederman. “Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration” (Perseus Books, 1997).
Covey, Stephen R. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” (Fireside, 1990).
Drucker, Peter F. “Managing for the Future: The 1990s and Beyond” (Plume, 1993).
Drucker, Peter F. “Post-Capitalist Society” (HarperBusiness, paperback edition, 1994).
Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. “On the Frontiers of Management” (Harvard Business Review Book, 1997).
Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. “World Class: Thriving Locally in the Global Economy” (Touchstone Books, 1997).