Con Tricks

The Shadowy World of Management Consultancy and How to Make it Work for You

Martin Ashford

Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 1998, 298 pages

ISBN: 0-684-82141-9

Keywords: Consulting

Last modified: Aug. 7, 2007, 8:23 a.m.

Lord Weinstock has described them as "invariably a waste of money' and yet the top thirty management consultancies earned almost $30 billion in 1996 from businesses and governments worldwide. They have also been growing, year on year, much faster than their clients. Are consultants the vital catalysts of the global economy or the perpetrators of a gigantic confidence trick?

This book is for anyone who is or had ever wished to be a consultant. It lifts the veil on what consulting is really like and what you need to succeed with the major firms. It also asks why consultants are so expensive, why they can be so bad at running their own businesses and whether the loss of mid-line expertise in our corporations is making them dangerously reliant on outside advisers.

Most of all, this is a book for clients and potential clients of consultants. It discusses good and bad reasons for using them how to set up the project, what tricks of the trade you should watch out for and what to do if things go wrong. For those exposed in any way to the work of consultants, whether managing projects or just as a small cog in the machine, this is essential reading.

Clients always get the consultants they deserve. Reading this book will enable you to ensure that you also get the consultancy you need.

  • Introduction: The prostitutes of the business world
  • Chapter 1: A long list of bad reasons for using consultants
  • Chapter 2: A shorter list of good reasons
  • Chapter 3: Consultancy types and how to recognise them
  • Chapter 4: How much did you say it will cost?
  • Chapter 5: Tricks of the trade
  • Chapter 6: The simple person's guide to consultancy-speak
  • Chapter 7: Beware of flying bullets
  • Chapter 8: Why clients get the consultants they deserve
  • Chapter 9: So you want to be a consultant, son?
  • Chapter 10: Consultancies on trial
  • Chapter 11: The hollow organisation — an essay
  • Chapter 12: If you really must use consultants, get it right
  • Epilogue: Leave the money on the table
  • Appendix: Research questionnaire and findings


Con Tricks

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Excellent ********** (10 out of 10)

Last modified: May 21, 2007, 2:57 a.m.

As an old consultant myself, this book is revealing and foremost, extremely entertaining. Not only does the author capture the management consultancy business, but he also describes the management of the "victims" very entertaining. Unfortunately, what he describes is very common, not only on the part of the MC business, but also of its clients that in reality should know better.

When I'm bored (or expecting to be bored) or have to handle longer negotiations, this book always accompany me, its great fun at the hotel room, and every time I look into it, I seem to learn a trick or two that can be useful.

In short, whatever your persuassion, buy it and read it, if for nothing else, it is very well written.


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