The ANALyst

Leverage, optimise, synergise


Welcome to a series of posts entitled Consultionary. As the name suggests the purpose of these posts are to enlighten you lesser mortals about some commonly used words in the consulting cosmos. So here goes..

1) Value Add – Originally used to describe the value a consultant brought to a client through his or her knowledge and expertise and the advice the consultant gave to the client. In contemporary times however, it has become the most overused phrase in consulting with almost every interaction with the client being dubbed as “value add”. Said phrase is also used to hide the layers of horse manure being delivered to the client. Infact, this phrase is so imbibed in the minds of a consultant that subconciously it becomes a part of your daily vocabulary, with the result that it is often used with disastrous consequences. I did ask a former girlfriend once about what value she added to my life. Needless to say, the girlfriend became a “former girlfriend”.

2) Leverage – This word ranks up there along with the previous phrase as the most overused word in consulting. In theoretical consulting terms, the word leverage refers to using the firm’s resources, expertise and experience to “add value”. In practical consulting terms, it refers to claiming someone else’s work in some obscure part of the world to be your own and using that to show the client you are an “expert” in some area. Given that the person in question also probably did exactly the same thing, it really is no more than a pyramid (or shall we call it Madoff) scheme.

3) Optimise – A glorified term for cost cutting i.e. laying off people. Why companies hire consultants to do this is beyond me. This requires absolutely no mental exercise. You just pick a dollar amount that sounds good. See the number of people you need to cut to achieve that dollar amount and you cut. Oh there is some effort required in the build up to releasing the news and “change management”. In all it seems to be a highly profitable exercise for the consulting firm and a pointless one for the client. But then again it’s almost half a century since the time hiring consultants was a purely business decision – so no surprises there. So if you are laid off don’t blame your CEO, he wasn’t even capable of that much. But then again you will quite often find the CEO with consulting firm partners at posh golf courses so maybe you can blame them a little bit.

4) Expert – In normal English an expert refers to a person who has deep knowledge or experience in a particular field. It’s fairly similar in consulting – except that the depth of the knowledge probably extends to just one day. Sometimes even one hour. Here’s what happened with me. Project manager comes to me and asks me to do a bit of research on automotive industry in emerging markets. Next day, in a meeting with the senior management of the client, said project manager looks at me and says, The ANALyst is our expert on the state of the automotive industry in emerging markets. WTF!!!!!

Coming up in the next post Utilisation, Synergy, Budget and whatever else I can think off.


May 7, 2009 Posted by | Consulting | 1 Comment