Remember the old saying: those who can do, those who can’t teach, those who can’t teach manage?
Well, you can add to that: those who can’t manage become consultants!
At this point maybe I’d better explain that by consultants I mean people whose sole job is being a consultant, not people with real careers and who from time to time work as a consultant for a specific task or a specific and time limited purpose, something I’ve done too and something I’ll probably do again in the future.
A couple of years ago the management in our lab got us an outside consultant to try and find ways to improve productivity (a task neither specific nor time limited, mind you).
The said consultant increased bureaucracy a tenfold, thus actually decreasing the productivity of our administrative staff, to the point of nowadays scientific staff having to handle most of the red tape the folks at the desk jobs used to deal it.
Said consultant however made very impressive reports that clearly showed one year and a half of the new system would lead us into a heaven of productivity.
Two years into the new system and the productivity is still decreasing, although the consultant managed to get himself a staff position as a full time resident consultant…
Of course he still files very impressive reports, after all he’s been part of the staff for more than a year now, that adds up to more than three years filing reports on the same subject.
This got me curious about this leech-like creature, the consultant that is.
The guy is an engineer who never worked as such, ever since he graduated he started working on rules and regulations, making it short: a bureaucrat.
Who on earth would endure five years of college learning something inherently practical never to use it?
Something popped in my brain while questioning this… several people I’ve met in college have become consultants.
This was quite strange to me too, after all I thought you had to have some experience before becoming a consultant, surely I never thought I would be a consultant fresh out of college.
Quietly I started getting some background info on their careers, where have they been working, how do their former co-workers describe them… you know, what trivially can be described as gossip!
I’m aware my study lacks statistical significance, but nevertheless all the gossip gathered points to a common profile: someone who brags a lot, who makes a big bluff as far as his/her own capacities, people who will gladly undertake a thousand tasks never to finish a single one, people you can’t rely on to actually get something done!
After collecting all the gossip I could I tried a direct approach: asking them what their jobs were.
It goes more or less like this: having the people who actually have the know-how and who do something going out of their way to prepare technical reports about their jobs, compiling the technical reports into “management readable material” (yes, this is actually a description several of them used), prepare presentations that can help management taking appropriate decisions. Another astonishing thing: they all seem to be able to work in any kind of company regardless of their supposed area of expertise…