Consulting Demons: Inside the Unscrupulous World of Global Corporate Consulting

Stephen M. Pollan, Author, Lewis Pinault, Author
Stephen M. Pollan, Author, Lewis Pinault, Author HarperBusiness $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-661997-2
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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This expose is sure to incite envy and lust for the power and influence consulting entails, while simultaneously inciting dismay at the underhanded tactics consultants apparently use as a matter of course. Pinault, an international player in a number of major consulting organizations, narrates the story of his life as a participant in a number of corporate takeovers, reengineerings and project startups. The book is heavily dependent on dialogue, which lends an air of freshness and reality to business subjects often bound in stilted, academic prose. The story begins with Pinault's background: he tells how, having hoped for a career in space technology, he detoured into the study of Japanese and began his career working for a Japanese shipbuilding firm. This was followed quickly by his immersion into the international Boston Consulting Group. With the exception of a few detailed descriptions of actual consulting projects--the manufacture of disposable diapers is one--most of this account describes Pinault's rise up the consulting ladder, his struggles with the demands and stress of the job and the machinations of various consulting firms competing intensely on several continents. Pinault's work was sometimes skullduggerish, and he gleefully relates tales of his ""benchmarking""--i.e., covertly, duplicitously discovering other companies' trade secrets--and low-bidding competitors' clients. Interspersed throughout are pithy guidelines that condense consulting into simple lessons: e.g., ""Cases that begin to show obsession with large quantities of data... run a high danger of fractured expectations."" This is two books in one, the narrative refreshing and illuminating, the guidelines terse and educational. At times, both serve to highlight the shady, sometimes questionable activities that seemingly permeate this professional culture. (Feb.)
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