Friday, July 17, 2009

It started at dinner near a shipyard...



My first project was at a shipyard. Over dinner, my seasoned colleagues inquired about the "Consulting 101" course I had just completed before joining the project. We began discussing the term "Client Service," which was used extensively during training, but never truly defined.
I asked my team, "what does 'client service' mean to you?"
Three years later now, I can't remember their answers, but I remember mine.
"I think 'client service' means that you care - personally, and emotionally, about the well-being of your client. It means that you care about the outcome, and want your answer to their problem to be the answer you would get if you WERE them."
Today, the trouble is, I no longer care.

I've seen projects that I've been proud of. But I've also seen projects where I just don't believe in the answer. The clients have been happy, but I don't believe in my heart that it will change the client, or lead to incremental EBIT, or make their employees feel more confident about their company.

I've certainly made my firm money, and our client points of contact are happy. But I don't think the client's shareholders, and the larger client organization particularly benefited.
It's not that we destroyed value; it's just that we made a stack of slides that made everyone look good, but didn't lead to any change. You could say the final briefout deck is like the Emporer's New Clothes. Nobody understands it, but everybody pretends to be impressed by how it looks.
Since I don't care anymore, I don't have any choice.
So I'm quitting.

18 comments:

sona said...

good luck with whatever you plan to do next! :-)
thanks for blogging about consulting and pls don't quit that!

KevinB said...

Your post wouldn't have been nearly as cool without the eject-o man plotting a trajectory to greener pastures.

You ought to look for a "Say hello to my little friend" iPhone app. and blast your way out of that place gangster-style. See you down the road hombre.

SergioS said...

I hope that with "I'm quitting", you mean you're quitting about you not caring anymore and not that you're leaving consulting as a way to change the world.

I just find your blog last monday, your point of view was very refreshing because it was real world based and not just theory about the business world.

Right now I'm working as a "consultant" (I think the official job title is not really acurate. I see my self more like a "permatemp").
This is my first "real world job" (at least not a family business) and I'm working at a big worldwide company (we sell big commercial trucks), I'm located in México.

When I first see your blog and others with similar style, I was very happy about the fact that a lot of companies are not as powerfull or good directed as they seem.

When I get here, I was full of dreams and goals, then I felt the anger and selfishness of the coworkers and almost resigned my job (most important goals in my life make me not). Now (I've been here for a year and a half) I see things different. I have changed my point of view and I am more wise. I learned more of human and business relations than the activity I was doing (I'm a mechanical Engineer).

I know that I can make a difference in the company and in the world. Also I know that sometimes I can not get the results I wanted at the start of each project. I'm ok with it as long as the next time that i'm in front of a similar situation y will have an improved plan.


As a final note, I still do care about the customer and the way they see me (Also for internal customers). I know you still do.

And because of that I can say that I've received more from this blog (and of you, of course) than I expected. You have one happy costumer here!.

Best Regards.

(Sorry about my shameful english writting skills).

David said...

Hi Consultant Ninja,

I hope that you continue to write about what you are working on whether that be hiking Mt. Denali, starting up your own firm, working at start-up (funded startups pay the equivalent of Fortune 500 companies), or becoming something else.

Final question: Would you have become a mangement consultant at the Big 5 if you could do it again?

Thanks,

David M.
"Not sure if I want to spend 3 years working in mngt consulting."

The ANALyst said...

Congratulations CN. And all the best with whatever lies ahead. You only speak the truth when you talk about all the projects where the solution didn't change the client. It didn't make a lot of business sense for them, but it certainly made good business sense for the partners. While there are many consulting partners who genuinely care about their client, there are an equally large number of partners who just want to see a bigger dollar figure for themselves than they saw the year before, irrespective of how it comes. Clients be damned!

Corporate Whore said...

Congratulations. You won't regret it.

JulienS. said...

Dear CS,

Thanks for the great blog posts! I started reading it a while ago dreaming about "getting in" upon graduation.
You were the first one showing some other aspects of the industry - which are unknown by career counselors pushing their "best" students for it.

All the best for your next endeavors, and please, continue blogging, because in this field you do provide great value to your customers : us!

Good luck to Mrs CS as well, since she's still in right?

Steve Shu said...

Consultant Ninja,

Good luck with your future endeavors. FWIW - the majority of performing people that I have seen leave consulting firms wind up being immediately happier. So based on that and the caliber of material you post on your blog, I would say that the odds are working for you. Please keep us updated!

Consultant Insider said...

Good luck with your next step. And I thoroughly applaud the way you made your decision - exactly the right way to decide to leave I think

res i(p)sa said...

Good for you. Keep us "posted".

Re: client service, I dared raise the point in a team meeting the other day that I didn't feel we were really adding value for our client, and nearly got my head bitten off. So much for that.

Maya said...

Best of luck to you. As a new (over 6 months, under one year) consultant, I found your blog before I began and really enjoyed the "real" look inside the industry. I understand it a lot better now and am more aware of how I feel about the "is it for me?" question. Answer-- def not for the long haul. Please keep your readers posted-- you write well and are witty and amusing-- let us know where your path takes you!

doctor baloney said...

Hi Ninja,

I've read your blog with pleasure for some time now and you're clearly one of the 'good-fellas' that cared too much. Most of them seem to leave.

For what it's worth, I get the feeling that most senior clients don't care too much either as long as their pensions and bonuses are safe.

Good luck with the future and keep us informed of what you do. You realise that with you, corporate whore and covert consultant all leaving, there aren't many blogging consultants left now!

Maybe we should write an expose together....

Rebecca said...

Best of luck to you. Good for you for hanging on to your ethics and for not being afraid to admit the emperor has no clothes.

I too hope you continue blogging!

NumbaJockey said...

I'm jealous. I might be leaving the same game too. I have an idea for something that might actually help people instead of the Emperor's New Deck.

Good luck. Time to go Philadelphia Lawyer style (Happy Hour is for Amateurs), or Tucker Max, and make a popular blog into a book. House of Lies is an alright poke at the consulting world but you could outdo it.

Anonymous said...

I hear ya. I've been in consulting for 12 years. I've done the strategy, the assessment, and the actual implementation (believe it or not). I've also had the opportunity to advise clients to spend millions on new software. I think the whole thing is a sham. The only real organizational change I've seen implemented was developed and implemented by the companies themselves. Somewhere along the way the original reason for consultants (if there ever was one) was replaced by the need to keep the fees flowing to keep the business going.

Can'r say there's a socially redeeming aspect to anything I've done. Sad.

Anonymous said...

So...what are you doing now?

NumbaJockey said...

CN, this was posted by another consulting refugee and found it much too familiar... http://tech.mit.edu/V130/N18/dubai.html

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Friday, July 17, 2009