Not that you think I have anything against consultants. I know many consultants who offer their clients excellent added value. Rather, I would like to describe a type I call Clone Consultant. He is characterized by the fact that he is primarily focused on a follow-up assignment and forget his actual job. Everything else we value, such as professional competence, empathy and results, does not apply to these Clones. For example, they displace in-house experts who usually have enough competence and commitment to solve challenges.
What are the characteristics of Clone Consultants?
- Clones follow a given consulting pattern and are not capable of task-specific and innovative solutions; that is why they are clones
- The customer order is a minor matter; the word customer orientation only appears in the offer. Own profit maximization is in the foreground
- They are superficially friendly and nevertheless play their own game
- Clever Clones let their work be done by in-house experts
- Clones are good self-promoters and don’t show honest respect for others
- They spend a lot of time on small talk to generate important information for follow-up orders
- If errors occur, the in-house employees are responsible for them
But away from this unpleasant enumeration to my real practical experience:
A leading Company in the Publishing Industry
A project, executed by one of the leading management consultancies, was stopped. I took over the project lead of the following project. We were known for our customer and implementation orientation. That’s way we conducted interviews with many of the employees. In logistics, some of the employees were astonished and asked: “Are you interested in our opinion? Your predecessors said that we were firing 20% of our employees for the first time. Then we ask questions”.
Restructuring of a Subsidiary
In a restructuring project of a group listed in the DAX share index, 400 employees of a total of 800 were laid off at the end of the year. The project was supported by a consulting firm. Very young consultants parked their noble cars directly in front of the entrance. Our first step was to plan measures that would lead to immediate receipt of money or immediate cost savings. One consultant suggested that the sales staff of several subsidiaries should talk to each other on a regular basis. In a situation where employees had to fight for their jobs, this proposal was unqualified and had no measurable immediate effect. Today, the company is hiring again. This was essentially an achievement of the in-house experts and not of the consultants.
Complex ERP Migration
A leading company has migrated its ERP software. The consultant of a large consulting company has taken over the project management. He only performed this task in the role of a moderator. A coordinated milestone plan was not available. For many participants, the project was completely intransparent and most colleagues did not know each other at all. Then it became clear that this consultant was taking care of follow-up projects and hiring further consultants. Fortunately, this consultant was replaced by an in-house employee. Shortly before the end of the project, she put a lot of effort into structuring the project, getting everyone on board and completing it successfully. Julia, well done.
There will probably be many employees in companies who have had similar experiences with Clone Consultants. Very often it is the case that the employees in the company have all the necessary specialist knowledge. Loyalty and commitment are added. 80 % of external consulting assignments could be handled by the managers and employees themselves. Sometimes, however, challenges need to be solved that require special qualifications. Fortunately, there are consultants who have a different professional and work ethic than Clones. They work together with the in-house experts in a professional team and achieve the necessary results.