Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A lesson in consulting's murky past

I was made aware quite some time ago of a new publication being launched this year, by Chris McKenna of Said Business School. Entitled "The World's Newest Profession: Management Consulting in the 20th Century", the book was set to chart the rise of the management consultancy profession and how alumni of the top consulting firms have come to yield such power in today's corporate world.

The publishers have yet to send through my review copy, but a piece in the Observer this last week reviews some of the key messages to emerge from the book. One observation is how the consulting "profession" came to exist thanks to changes in legislation in the US that essentially created a need for consulting professionals. It's then suggested that changes in legislation ever since - most recently in the form of Sarbox - have stimulated further waves of demand for our services and helped to sustain the growth of the consulting sector.

Unfortunately much that is published on the subject of consulting these days seeks to portray management consultants as underhand and undeserving of their success. Similar vibes emerge from this review of the book, though it is unclear whether it is the Observer's take on McKenna's work or the actual content of the book itself that is to blame.

Looks like an interesting read nonetheless, if only to gain an understanding of the roots of the consulting industry.

Enjoy. Tony

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