A colleague of mine presented an interesting scenario the other day. What if all those consulting firms that are heavily involved in “e-transformations” have actually stumbled on the Holy Grail?

What if—dare I say it—moving business online actually solves a lot of the problems that would normally present unlimited consulting opportunities to consultants?

Now work with me here a moment. I’m a bit naïve, but the basic premise behind online business is superefficiency. The so-called friction-less economy.

If you go back to consulting’s roots, and those Frederick Taylor-inspired stopwatch zealots, you know that consultants have long ago figured out that friction is a good thing. Sure, any consulting firm aspiring to the Big Leagues will analyze and present the complete solution to a problem. But in executing that solution, consultants move very methodically and purposefully down a set of narrow paths.

Why? There are two primary reasons.

The first applies to a consulting truism—the unquenchable desire to solve new puzzles (and generate new business). There’s a 99 percent probability that in thoroughly analyzing the situation at hand, consultants will uncover another problematic area that usually needs attention. It’s like visiting your doctor for a bum knee. She looks you over and says, “Yep, that knee looks bad … and your elbow doesn’t seem so good, either.”

The second reason is a bit more esoteric. Consulting aspires to knowledge transfer and value creation. Neither goal is easy or quick. Credible consultants take sincere pleasure in solving a client’s problem and creating additional value. And it’s even more heartening when the client understands the cause and effects so completely that that particular situation will never crop up again.

Internet consulting promises quick results and complete transformation. Sure, demand for e-consulting is insane these days. But the flood will subside. The ensuing shakeout will reward those consultants who truly deliver on today’s overheated promises.

Heard on the street
Counselor, accountant, consultant? Today’s Wall Street Journal portrays the Big 5 as lustful lawyers. Mixing accounting and legal services is acceptable everywhere but the U.S. With the imminent departure of consulting services at most of these firms, perhaps the firms would prefer a piece of the sizable American legal pie. Meanwhile, McKinsey searches for lawyers with splashy full-page ads in the National Law Journal. Maybe we need a new term for these all-in-one service gurus!
Inside Consulting is written by Tom Rodenhauser as a free weekly supplement to The Rodenhauser Report. The report informs senior advisors and business executives of consulting trends and best practices. Subscription cost is $295 per year for 10 issues. Copyright 2000, Consulting Information Services, LLC. Reproduction is prohibited. Quotation with attribution is encouraged.