Consultant (n): Highly-paid person who asks you for your watch, tells you the time, and charges you £50,000 for the pleasure

That’s not my definition, actually, that came from someone I used to work with who observed, quite correctly, that the company was being fleeced by people who knew less than we did. They were ‘consultants’, or as they would prefer to be called, ‘value creation catalysts’, which is short-hand for ‘management masturbators’. Or something like that.

What is a value creation catalyst? It’s someone who helps you create value quicker – in other words, make more money, quicker. But you could never say something so nakedly ambitious as ‘let’s all make shitloads of money really quickly’, you need to hide it in language that makes a Director go “hmm, yes, I get that, let’s all catalyse our value creation processes”, while simultaneously salivating all over his keyboard.

No, you’re a consultant, and you fall under the banner of all consultants – someone who takes your watch, tells you the time, and charges you for the service.

In fact, when a business posts an ad for a new consultant, it should read like one of those “Mum makes $20k a day working at home” ads – “Want to make gazillions of moneys doing nothing? Want to sit back and see the $$$s come in? We’ve got money and we want to give it to YOU!”

Just why do businesses turn to consultants so easily? Why is it that Transport for London decided to spend hundreds of millions on consultants when they could have just spent that money on – well, this may seem a little random, but I’ll throw it out there, spent that money on TRAINS or something. Instead, they got some people to tell them what they were already doing, and paid them tragillions of pounds.

It’s because they’re shit at their jobs. That’s all. So shit at their jobs they are willing to spend cash galore to get them out of their self-inflicted problem.

So how do you become a consultant? It seems like a nice job – plenty of money in it, and you don’t have to do much – just go into a business, tell them they’re getting it all wrong, write some processes and some fancy powerpoints, and off you pop, down to NatWest with your cheque and a bottle of bubbly because hey ho, those fools have got money and they’re going to spend it on someone, might as well be you.

1) Speak their language

Goes without saying, really. If you’re not mates with a Director (that helps, you’ve got an “in” there), then learn to speak like they do. It’s not hard, just say the word ‘leverage’ a thousand times, change the words ‘make money’ to ‘create value’, and start changing nouns into verbs. It’s really easy – diarise, incentivise, valueise, operationalise, to decision, whatever you like. In fact, try making one up of your own. Here’s one for free: processise – the process of making processes. “Have you processised that yet? Why not! Come on, we need to leverage our value creation catalysing processes.”

2) Play their games

Like golf? No? Well, the CFO Roger Turdball loves it, so get your Pringle out and start swinging your clubs. No, seriously, the number of arse-lickers and shirkers who realise that having the same interests is an immediate “in” is astonishing. In one company I worked at, the MD loved rugby. Amazingly, so did every arse-licker below him. Press them on the subject and they’d run away. Did they love rugby? Did they my arse.

3) Do loads of Powerpoint slides

The more the better. If you’re thinking of becoming a Consultant, make sure you know your PowerPoint back to front – but don’t over-do it or you’ll end up looking like you know what you’re doing – and Consultants don’t have time for that. By making it look bad, you’re convincing your suckers, sorry, clients that your only focus is the content, and that you’ve worked so hard on it, you haven’t had time to pretty it up. Include poorly-made flow charts, and intersperse them with slides that contain just one image. The ‘one image slide’ trick is brilliant, and shows people you’re a blue-sky thinker – say, an image of two hands shaking and the words ‘let’s work together’.

4) Learn to paraphrase and re-package

This is the tricky bit. As a consultant, you’re expected to come up with something new – say, a new direction for the company. But you don’t have to – all you need to do is look at what they’re doing, and tell them to do it. Just use different words – paraphrase and re-package! For example, a business might say that their mission statement is “delivering solutions that save money” – you can say that the business is “creating value for customers through solutions”. See what you did there? Put it on every powerpoint slide. That sentence just bought you £250,000.

5) Assess how much you can bleed them dry for, and then move on

And remember, don’t suddenly think “Oh those poor employees who are being made redundant while I pick up a £1/4m pay cheque”, think “they’re creating value for customers through solutions” now. But with fewer people.

So – ready to consult? Go get ’em!


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