The Anti-Consultant

One day I’m sitting in a large manufacturing organization—Fortune 100—waiting to see a colleague about some work we’re doing for a non-profit board. I was sitting in an area of open cubicles, where you could readily see what was going on from one human burrow to the next.

Two people next to me (I overheard) were awaiting a consultant who was going to “pitch” to them a new team building “package.” This, I thought, was better than reading the week-old Forbes Magazine in the waiting area.

The consultant arrived with a roller bag in tow, festooned like a Mardi Gras float from the Big Gaudy Crewe. He had a phone gizmo in his ear pulsating like a transplanted heart that wound up on the wrong part of his body. He had a pager at a weird angle on his belt, or perhaps is WAS his belt.

He proceeded to tediously relate his tedious trip from the airport, and asked to use the rest room. Once returned and settled, he opened his laptop and showed a presentation, pointing backwards from behind the screen, about the “six building blocks of dynamic teams” and the research his company had done to find/create/unearth them. The two people on the other side of the desk had to interrupt him to ask questions, which they politely did.

My colleague came out, apologized for my wait (I had been early) and we chatted for 30 minutes. Upon leaving, the presentation was continuing, laptop overheating on what had to have been the 200th slide.

When I called my colleague later in the day to give him some information he needed, I asked if he recalled the three people in the adjoining cubicle to my waiting area.

“I know two of them,” he said, “both sitting on the same side of the table. They are training specialists or something like that.”

“Can they purchase programs or consulting services?” I asked.

“They couldn’t purchase lunch in the cafeteria without our special pass.”

Here we have the hopeless talking to the helpless. It almost makes fox hunting seem pragmatic.

© Alan Weiss 2007. All rights reserved.

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