From the Good Ideas (or maybe the I-told-you-so) File: Consultants’ Disruption

I rail in the book a couple of different places about bad, dishonest or plain useless practices in local government consulting – my chosen line of work for more than 20 years.  My biggest beef, whether talking about 1960s architects with big capes or snake oil salesmen handing out simplistic answers at national conferences, has usually focused on failing to listen to what the client actually needs, or giving a damn about delivering that instead of the easy prepackaged thing with the big price tag.  I consult, I get the pressures, but I reached a point a few years ago where I wasn’t willing to make that devil’s deal anymore.

Apparently I’m not alone, and not only my little corner of the world, but the big pond of management consulting is getting upended, too:

The holy grail of professional services are the blue chip consultancies like McKinsey and Bain.  As Duff McDonald describes in The Firm, they get paid top dollar to dole out advice to the world’s largest corporations.  Yet the truth is that, while you pay for the partners, it’s the associates that do all the work

Rajeev Jeyakumar worked at a boutique consulting firm for five years before getting his MBA at Wharton.  While he was there, he noticed that many of his friends were doing side jobs to earn extra money.  They had become proficient in basic consulting tasks like building financial models, performing market analysis and formulating business plans.

It was with that insight that he founded SkillBridge to match consultants with companies. Most of the consultants come from top tier firms, but don’t want the the long hours and extensive travel that they demand.  Many are stay-at-home moms who want to keep their skills sharp and earn money while still maintaining a home life.

Although only active for about 10 months, the company is off to a great start.  It’s sold a few hundred thousands dollars worth of projects to a variety of firms, from mid-size private equity funds all the way up to well known names such as Estée Lauder and Warby Parker.

For those of us who provide, or purchase, consulting services, the idea that McKinsey can be disrupted by a distributed piecework-model startup… that should get us thinking.  If this is happenng in the corporate world, where budgets are relatively hefty, how will this trend shake out at the local government level?

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