Sanitised vs Sanitary

Are you trying to build a work environment that is more sanitised or more sanitary?

There is a difference.

A sanitised work environment is generally inoffensive, and is designed to satisfy the strict (and habitually self-serving) requirements of the HR checklist.

sanitary work environment, on the other hand, is one that’s designed to be favourable for the health and proper functioning of the organisation.

Do employees have enough free time and appropriate physical space where they can meet and mingle? This is likely to be important for relaxation, stress relief and the serendipitous generation of new ideas.

Are the key working areas of the business fit for purpose?

Too often the answer is no.

Take for example a professional services firm; it could be a consulting firm, law firm or accounting firm.  The existing mantra at many professional services firms is the “open plan” office, a form of madness which takes the much needed physical space that staff need, and plonks it right in the heart of productive work areas. The result is noisy chatter, annoyance for anyone who needs to concentrate for more than 30 minutes at a stretch, increased stress levels and reduced productivity. The workspaces at your typical professional services firm will satisfy the HR checklist, but they are often not fit for purpose.

Sanitized is not the same thing as sanitary.

 

Generalist versus Specialist

Generalist versus Specialist

(Source: Flickr)

The traditional consulting career model employed by top consulting firms like McKinsey was to develop generalist consultants who could apply general business principles and frameworks across different industries, sectors and functional areas.

Clients increasingly value industry experience and specialized knowledge, and so firms are evolving the traditional consulting career model to accommodate these changing client demands.

Consulting firms often expect generalist consultants to specialize within two or three years of joining the firm. As a junior consultant you need to be pro-active in managing your career since you can quickly become pigeonholed. For example, if your first few projects relate to “big data” you could become the firm’s in-house expert and then work primarily on projects relating to big data.

[For more information on the management consulting industry, download “The HUB’s Guide to Management Consulting“.]

Destiny vs Destination

When things go badly, the optimist is likely to respond with a reference to forces outside her control, “our competitors got lucky this time!”

When things go well, the pessimist is likely to respond in a similar way, “I got lucky this time!”

In both situations the person is making a call to destiny.

The optimist believes that things will go well as a matter of course, and so any setbacks are explained away as temporary bad luck.

The pessimist seems to believe the opposite; every situation presents the realistic possibility of failure and defeat. And when things go well, the pessimist is just thankful for the good fortune she enjoyed this time around.

The literature on positive psychology is totally in favour of the optimist, and with good reason. By explaining away defeat, the research has shown that a person will be much more resilient, which means they will be more likely to try again next time.

Resilience is important because it can help people to achieve their goals, and to avoid depression.

The problem with this blind support for the optimist though is that it ignores the value of intellectual honesty.

Sometimes you will have bad luck, and it is obviously fine to say so.

However, sometimes you will catch a lucky break, and in these instances claiming that your success is caused by your god-given brilliance may simply be dishonest, distasteful or downright obnoxious.

The winds can change.

Seneca, the Roman Stoic philosopher, is quoted as saying that “if one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

Good luck will feel wonderful and bad luck will feel horrible, but both can be equally unfavourable if you have no ultimate destination in mind.

You might have heard Behavioural Economists talk about “outcome bias”, which means judging a decision based on the outcome (good or bad?) rather than the quality of the decision at the time it was made.

In life, as in business, we should assess the quality of our decisions by whether they stand a reasonable chance of bringing us closer to our goals.

Which port are you sailing to?

Brief History of the Consulting Industry

Brief History of the Consulting Industry

(Source: Flickr)

Executives often rely on the advice of management consultants.

Was it always this way? Where did it all begin?

The management consulting industry, as we know it, originated in America.

The very first management consulting firm was Arthur D. Little, founded all the way back in 1886 by a professor at MIT whose name was (funnily enough) Arthur D. Little.

Almost 30 years later, Booz Allen Hamilton was founded in 1914. Booz was the first management consultancy to serve both industry and government clients.

Founded in 1926, McKinsey & Company was the world’s first pure management and strategy consulting company. McKinsey is arguably the world’s most prestigious consulting firm. The culture of the firm was heavily influenced by a man named Marvin Bower, who served as managing director from 1950 to 1967. Bower believed that management consultancies should adhere to the same high professional standards as lawyers and doctors. To this day, the core guiding principle at McKinsey is professionalism.

Boston Consulting Group, arguably the world’s second most prestigious consulting firm, was founded in 1963 by Bruce Henderson. It all began when Henderson left Arthur D. Little to accept a challenge from the CEO of the Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Company to start a consulting arm for the bank.

Ten years later, in 1973, Bill Bain and others left the Boston Consulting Group to form Bain & Company, which is also one of the world’s leading consulting firms.

According to the UK Management Consultancies Association, the consulting industry in the UK began to grow quickly in the 1950s, fuelled by the arrival of the US consulting firms, a wave of new management techniques, and increased demand from clients for specialised consulting skills.

[For more information on the management consulting industry, please download “The HUB’s Guide to Management Consulting“.]