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2012 September



People and Networks Matter (So the liberal arts do, too)

If I was to distill down my time as a consultant, the key finding might be this: “People and networks are the essential fabric of the business world.” This fact is constantly discounted – by me as much as anyone else. People, for better or worse, make the world go round. [1]

The clients I’ve worked for have had many different kinds of business and corporate problems – insufficient personnel to throw at a problem, specialized analytical challenges, lack of domain expertise, change management, etc. – but no matter what the issue was facing the company, it was impossible to separate the challenge from its human dimension.

This can be extremely frustrating, because in a hypothetical ‘ideal world ‘ consultants and companies could just crunch numbers and solve all their problems. CEO thinks they need to optimize pricing? No problem, run some numbers, come up with the correct approach, rinse and repeat. Trying to identify new business lines? Same thing. Ad infinitum.

But what happens is that, in even the most cut-and-dried of engagements, there are human or political factors to contend with. Does the organization have the capacity to manage two business models at once while it tries to transform itself? Are its leaders able to convince the board to try a risky strategy? Can they see the inherent risks of the status quo?

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Consultants Travel A Lot. (Myself Included). Should We?

I have been a consultant for 439 days, since I started working at Oliver Wyman in July 2011. Of that time (~300 business days, less vacation &c) the majority of them have been spent away from home, traveling or working somewhere for clients. This is a little bit strange. I have a nice New York life; why do I watch it shrink into the horizon on Monday mornings, as wind and metal carry me off?

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