Thursday, April 18, 2002

Fast Company: Are All Consultants Corrupt?

Fast Company interviews David Maister on why professional services firms are so poorly run. If you haven’t seen David speak before, you should. Though the shtick gets old after a while (you can only listen to him clear his throat into a lavalier mic so often), he has been thinking about management of professional services firms for years, and can entertain a crowd while also pointing out their weaknesses. He’s blunt and crass (especially for a Brit ), but when he’s in a room, he owns the room. You have to admire that.

Here are a few choice quotes:

What most professional-services firms don’t understand is that to make the most money, you actually have to believe in the product or service that you offer and care for the customers or clients whom you serve. That isn’t a religious argument; it’s a business lesson. You can’t dominate an industry unless you care passionately about what you do and the people you do it for.

… I’m not picking on any one profession. They’re all equally bad. They treat people poorly. They don’t train well. They have no quality assurance. They don’t collaborate with one another. They don’t show any interest in their clients. You would think that this would kill them. But they’re only competing against each other. So as long as nobody wakes up, they can all make money doing this shit.

… For most professional-services firms, the answer lies in their mission statement: We won’t screw up, but we’re nothing special. If that were me, I’d slit my wrists! That’s true for one very simple reason: I don’t want my tombstone to read, “He did tolerable stuff for tolerable people because they paid him.” I’m not that much of a whore.

See what I mean? Read the article. [Thanks to Wendy Leibowitz for the link.]

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