Dangerous Company: Consulting Powerhouses and the Companies They Save and Ruin Paperback – 18 Feb 1999
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It sounds like a thriller, it even reads like one, but Dangerous Company is actually the paperback version of a 1997 bestseller focusing on some of the most famous consulting firms in the world and some of their most famous faux pas. Written by two Chicago Tribune journalists, this fascinating book blows apart the powerful and secretive world of the likes of McKinsey & Co, Andersen Consulting and Deloitte Touche.
Based on sources within the consulting elite as well as their key clients, chapter after chapter reveals mind-blowing accounts of some of the worst disasters in consulting history, but also some of the greatest turnarounds. Read how one Fortune 500 company spent over $75 million on consultants only to find itself facing bankruptcy, while Sears' clever, and limited, use of consultants saved itself from the jaws of financial ruin. James O'Shea and Charles Madigan have revealed a side of management consultancy the consultants would rather you didn't know. For anyone hiring, or thinking of hiring, consultants, buy this book now. Even if you only read the 10-point checklist at the end, the few pounds outlay could save your company considerably more. For the rest, this book is an unmissable business handbook, revealing compelling insights into management-thinking at the end of the twentieth century. --Carey Green
From the Publisher
"Required Reading" -- The Economist
This is a great book for anyone whose company has ever been invaded by consultants. It answers the most basic questions: Who are these people? Why do they earn so much money? Are they really responsible for the downsizing epidemic? What happens when executives let their consultants run amok? DANGEROUS COMPANY is a HOT book -- it has already been reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times ("Engrossing"), The Economist ("Required Reading"), Business Week, and Fortune. And as Jack Stack puts it, "It reads more like a thriller than a book about business." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The situations reviewed swing one way to the other resulting in the conclusion that the appointment of Consultants in a business is on a par with a toss of a coin.
If you had reservations about the usefulness of Managing Consultants before you read this book you will continue to harbour these doubts.
I have found it useful to challenge consulting paradigms, because the way they think is a function of the universe as they see it. When the response to the challenge is, "Oh, I hold a patent," or, "This is how McKinsey did it," flags go up. This book helped validate some of my concerns about how consultants work, and, as an ex-consultant, I do note that the only employees who get trained CONSTANTLY--by experience--are consultants. Their knowledge is their bread-and-butter. I began refusing to deal with "green" consultants and account representatives from suppliers because I hate training their new employees. It's enough to train the people who make the commitment to show up, rain or shine, without needing overtime.
The best use of a consultant is when you have to make yourself and others comfortable with a bet-the-ranch recommendation. What's the cost of "not" doing something? If you manage the relationship well enough to get the consultant to say other than what you want to hear, you may get the kind of analysis that helps you to think "out of the box."
Otherwise, you should check your accounting practices: what's your ROI on consultants vs. employees?
For the client, there are real life examples on how external consultants can help you build your business - or destroy what you already have. You cannot abdicate management responsibility, and you need to ensure that the consultant's objectives, authority, roles, deliverables and spend are clearly defined and regularly monitored. You also need to get the key people in your organisation fully briefed and engaged.
For the consultant, it is a good reminder that on the one hand you can help bring valuable insight because the people on the ground can be just too close to the problem, but on the other hand, there are likely to be employees (perhaps not always in senior positions, and perhaps not always listened to enough) who know what the real issues and possible resolutions are - so seek them out. It is also a good reminder that you are not infallible and what is simply a fee-earning project for you, could be a matter of survival for the client.
For both, the client is not always right - nor is the consultant. So work in partnership, listen, solicit honest debate, and once you have agreed on a course of action, act decisively.
Some of the content gets a bit long, but the book is most valuable as a history of the big strategy consulting firms and their off-shoots (BCG, Andersen, McKinsey, Bain, Monitor, etc...), with special emphasis on what they did wrong, and how to avoid disasters at your own company.
I think the intended audience of the book was more for CEO's and upper management (as opposed to consultants themselves), and as such, it could be titled: "How Not to Get Screwed by the Big Boys."
The authors offer lots of stories (and tips) on how to manage the consultant/client relationship (keeping control, scope creap, budget escalation, etc...) and do so through lots of disjointed seemingly unrelated "case studies."
If you're in the consulting job search process, this book will give you an interesting perspective and some real meaty issues to talk about during interviews. "Old-timers" would probably find they already know most of the "stories," but for new managers and those of us just entering the big game, it's definitely worth the read. - DAN
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reading this book, the question in your mind, so often, is "Why don't they see what's happening? Read morePublished on 22 April 2000 by Mark
This book reads like a thriller, the first half is better than the second. Good for management consulting stories, have it on your desk when you haggle over the fees.Published on 9 April 2000
A very interesting, entertaining and, at times, frightening book. Definitely turned me OFF of a career in management consulting!!Published on 11 May 1999
I think this book provides an interesting and ironic overview on the bigest consulting firms worlwide. Read morePublished on 14 April 1998
The authors present what is an unoriginal conclusion, but one that I have to agree with. However, the stories that are told are just anecdotal, with very little real proof of... Read morePublished on 12 April 1998
I thought the authors did a great job looking at what consulting firms can do/not do for businesses. I enjoyed reading about how some of the firms started (e.g. McKinsey/BCG). Read morePublished on 9 Nov. 1997
For a new graduate from The University of Texas at Austin looking at consulting as a career path this book was a must-read. Read morePublished on 30 Sept. 1997