Last night, a couple colleagues and I went to the book launch party for Martin Kihn’s House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time. As the writer of Fast Company‘s Consultant Debunking Unit pieces, Kihn’s take on the world work is refreshingly snarky and salient.
During the event, he read what he termed something like the “rules of consulting.” Here are some highlights:
There is no discussion of the client at the client site. There is no gestation, gossip, dissection, or interpretation of its business based on information sources seen, read, or heard about by speakerphone. There is no animated conversation at the client site, period: no loud talk or character-type noise effects such as chortles, grunts, groans, wild laughter, or screams. All cries of despair are internal, all sobbing alone.
Unsolicited opinions are a one-way ticket to a counsel out. Sacking is the payment for clear points of view. Remember whole swaths of the U.S.A. are populated by right-wing extremists with pinheaded views on scientific principles such as evolution, global warming, and the Pac-10 conference; these people are your clients and are not open to persuasion.
No phone calls. No cell phone calls from home. No cell phones turned on, even during lunch breaks. No lunch breaks. No food procured by any means other than stealth-quiet raids on the vending machines. Don’t call your mother to talk. No check-ins with friends on the sly to set up something for Friday night when you’re back in the city. No friends. No Fridays. No back in the city.
No unnecessarily loud taps on the keyboard. These are the signs of an amateur. No room-level conversations — the very best senior partners are quiet folks, almost whisperers, the kind of men and women you have to lean into to understand. This spills over into private life, this silence of the mind…
No mind. No silence.
Good stuff. If you have worked — or work — as a consultant, how spot on is that?