The New Yorker article highlights some of the history of management consulting as discussed in the book –“The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting It Wrong” (Norton; $27.95), Matthew Stewart.
Stewart cites Frederick Winslow Taylor the pioneer of ‘time & motion’ as one who :-
fudged his data, lied to his clients, and inflated the record of his success. As it happens, Stewart did the same things during his seven years as a management consultant; fudging, lying, and inflating, he says, are the profession’s stock-in-trade.
Whether you agree or not, and I do not, the article is worth a look – it contains some great anecdotes and comments, one I especially enjoyed was this one:-
In 1911, Taylor explained his methods—Schmidt and the pig iron, Gilbreth and the bricks—in “The Principles of Scientific Management,” whose argument the business über-guru Peter Drucker once called “the most powerful as well as the most lasting contribution America has made to Western thought since the Federalist Papers.” That’s either very silly or chillingly cynical.
Personally I tend to the chillingly cynical interpretation.
I intend to get the book and read it, if nothing else it may provide some good copy and quotes for presentations.
Those who are much more cynical than myself, may of course take the view that this is, regrettably, what some of our brethren have been known to do. You might very well think that, but I could not possibly comment. Enjoy!
Oh and the title for this post comes from a comment in the article as a possible ‘definition’ of modern management consulting. It appeals to my sense of humour.