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November 30, 2004
Why Playing Politics Is Good For Government Officials But Not For Management Consultants
Topic: 2) The Consulting Trade
With the elections behind us now for a couple of weeks, I thought that I would jot down some thoughts about the role of politics in business. Now there are courses taught in business schools (including the University of Chicago) on how power and politics play a role in a organization. Some key aspects of politics are that they are a natural part of having 1) an organizational structure and 2) interdependencies between people in the organization.

Now one can see why there is a tendency for some of the unsavory things (e.g., mud slashing) to happen in an election of the President of the United States. Well for one thing we are hiring the chief honcho. Secondly, there are a lot of interdependencies between us as citizens of the United States and part of the larger world.

Politics are bad for management consultants because helping a client needs to transcend the organization. An effective consultant needs to adopt Renaissance capabilities to work up and down in the organization and to cross-connect the organization in new ways in conjunction with the client. This may be of tremendous value to a client because sometimes existing employees may be fearful or reluctant (and perhaps rightfully so) to upset others in the organization (sometimes their peers or bosses). A good consultant should only focus on the goal of fixing things. Consultants are temporary guns to help get an organization through change, and they should be fired or put on the street if not adding value.

Now I've lost myself again ... why can't this goal-focused reasoning apply to political elections too?

Steve Shu
Managing Director
S4 Management Group

Posted by sshu-s4 (c) S4 Management Group LLC at 11:31 AM CST
Updated: November 30, 2004 11:37 AM CST
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