Management Consultants or Court Magicians?

If Managers are the new nobility, Management Consultants are their Court Magicians.

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I just read this very interesting opinion piece from The Independent where it is shown how Management Consultancy is the largest legal scal of the 20th century. In the piece, the author is quite surprised how time after time various big firms will fall for the same scam with disastrous results and how come the bad reputation of such Consultancy firms has not yet caught up to them.

This immediately made sense to me, for the truth is that the Management are absolutely incapable of telling what is a good or bad result, since they themselves are more likely than not, as incompetent in management as the consultants they are hiring. In the past, I’ve likened the Management and the paths they use to achieve such positions, to the Nobility of old and this latest article nicely allows me to extend this analogy.

If Management is the new nobility, then the Management Consultants are the Court Magicians.

Much like a court magician, they do not have any knowledge or skill in making decisions for other people, not to mention whole organizations. In the past, those court magicians used cantrips, displays of mysticism, cold and hot reading and simply psychology, to make the Nobles believe that they had powers of foresight and Intuition. Management Consultants instead use complex excel sheets, alchemical algorithms, free market drivel and orthodoxy and raw bluff.

Court Magicians were used as advisors to Kings and Lords in important decisions. Their advise, when not simply reinforcing the opinion of the ruler as a form of sycophancy, were nothing but random. Much like current management, Court Magicians relied on the fact that a King or Lord had no more an idea on how to rule other humans and were gunning for that 50% of random chance success, while and padding it up with the cognitive biases of the nobility. Management Consultancy can’t even get a 50% success rate but they rely on the fact that current Management is so desperate in times of crisis that they would be even willing to believe in astrology or alchemy if it promised a way out.  Of course, those two disciplines have been severely discredited by actual sciences while in the field of business, marketing is king. And Management Consultancy firms can afford a lot of Marketing.

In fact, I think that if Management firms hired actual court magicians, they might actually have better success, since at least they wouldn’t be mired in the orthodoxy of  “Cut 30% of Staff no matter the circumstances”.

The more one looks at this insane system we’re living in, it truly starts to resemble some kind of neo-feudalism more and more. The incompetent are born into their positions of power, and are then advised by the more cunning incompetent on how to rule everyone else.

Now I just need to figure who the court jester is…

6 thoughts on “Management Consultants or Court Magicians?”

  1. You are awesome db0. I was just thinking about this because a friend of mine recently went to work for McKinsey & Co. When I looked them up on the net a lot of things came up regarded scandals, fraud, and how they advised Enron (and the CEO of Enron used to work at McKinsey & Co.).

  2. Loved the original article on management consultants. Confirmed much of what I've observed. There was an interesting – if somewhat apologetic – blog post by James Kwak (Baseline Scenario) on the same. No, they probably aren't totally bogus and evil – but when you look at the misdeeds and mishaps in American business and industry, you have to wonder if the Court Magicians are truly running the show.

  3. I understand that you take your ability to do all these seriously, but I'd afraid to say that if those engineers had the freedom to take those decisions themselves, they would probably do a better job.

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