Cover image for Turning no into yes : six steps to solving your business problems (so you can stop worring)
Turning no into yes : six steps to solving your business problems (so you can stop worring)
Pollan, Stephen M.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperBusiness, 2000.
Physical Description:
254 pages ; 25 cm
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HD58.6 .P65 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"What is a Management Consultant?" the prized MBA candidate asked.
"The best of us--and that could be you--know without ever needing to ask. We're a Breed Apart," the consultant observed, arrogance and irony in perfect balance.
"Okay, so that could be me, but what does that mean?" the MBA persisted.
"Of course there's money involved," the consultant offered.
"Great deals of money. World travel, first-class living. A chance to influence every corporation on the planet. Virtually no limits to whatever secrets and appetites you feel you need to indulge."
"Yes, but what is it that we do?" the recruit tried one last time, his doubts rapidly evaporating.
"You'll see.

In this gripping and colorful account of the American dream gone astray, Lewis Pinault takes us to the shiny heights scaled, and the darkest depths sunk to, by those ill-defined creatures known as "Management Consultants."

At once a riveting narrative, an alarming cautionary tale, and a treasury of useful advice, Consulting Demons is a rare insider's view of the lucrative arena of global management consulting. In this stunning expos#65533; of some of the most prestigious and respected names in the business, Pinault takes his readers by the hand and leads them into a world where a client's interests are skillfully subordinated to those of the consultants, where money rules the day, and where principles and morals are but unwelcome baggage.

For aspiring consultants, this is an unvarnished look at the life of a consultant, with essential, darkly revealing guidelines on how to get ahead and an enlightening perspective on the brutal infighting that can engulf even the most civilized consulting firm.

For current executives and potential clients, Pinault reveals what consultants are really thinking and scheming, and explores the unscrupulous lengths to which a consulting firm will go in order to protect and increase its own lucrative fees.

For the general reader, this is a rollicking yarn brimming with vignettes drawn from a consultant's daily work, including such characteristic consulting activities as "benchmarking" (deep-cover corporate espionage), "business transformation" (mass brainwashing), and "client entertainment" (global debauchery).

In this unique firsthand account, Pinault takes readers behind the scenes of the dehumanizing indoctrination of an academic intellectual into an exploitative--and exploited--"global transformation contractor." This incisive and telling book details his ascension in the business, the compromises he made to his integrity, and his eventual escape from a world he could no longer come to terms with.With true accounts of harrowing days spent in the hallowed trenches of consulting, and nights pondering personal relationships gone out of control, Consulting Demons offers the most complete look at an industry that exacts the highest prices for the most questionable standards of success.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

James O'Shea and Charles Madigan, in Dangerous Company: The Consulting Powerhouses and the Businesses They Save and Ruin (1997), promised an exposebut provided an even-handed account showing only that consultants operate with their own interests at stake. They also offered helpful guidelines for how and when to use consultants. Here, though, no one can accuse Pinault of pulling any punches. He worked for 12 years as a consultant for several of the biggest names in the industry, before quitting "to fill an undefined but growing void in [his] life." His story is a chronology of his career, filled with frank specifics about how "consultants learn to make do, to stretch, pilfer, pad and deceive as required by the impossible demands of their work." Interspersed among the details of his personal narrative are "mini treatises" outlining what Pinault sees as the "real ins and outs of the business." Ever since Michael Lewis' irreverent best-seller Liar's Poker: Rising through the Wreckage on Wall Street (1989), publicists have likened books such as Pinault's to Lewis' eye-opener. Pinault's entertainingly cynical tale justifies the comparison! --David Rouse

Publisher's Weekly Review

This expose is sure to incite envy and lust for the power and influence consulting entails, while simultaneously inciting dismay at the underhanded tactics consultants apparently use as a matter of course. Pinault, an international player in a number of major consulting organizations, narrates the story of his life as a participant in a number of corporate takeovers, reengineerings and project startups. The book is heavily dependent on dialogue, which lends an air of freshness and reality to business subjects often bound in stilted, academic prose. The story begins with Pinault's background: he tells how, having hoped for a career in space technology, he detoured into the study of Japanese and began his career working for a Japanese shipbuilding firm. This was followed quickly by his immersion into the international Boston Consulting Group. With the exception of a few detailed descriptions of actual consulting projects--the manufacture of disposable diapers is one--most of this account describes Pinault's rise up the consulting ladder, his struggles with the demands and stress of the job and the machinations of various consulting firms competing intensely on several continents. Pinault's work was sometimes skullduggerish, and he gleefully relates tales of his "benchmarking"--i.e., covertly, duplicitously discovering other companies' trade secrets--and low-bidding competitors' clients. Interspersed throughout are pithy guidelines that condense consulting into simple lessons: e.g., "Cases that begin to show obsession with large quantities of data... run a high danger of fractured expectations." This is two books in one, the narrative refreshing and illuminating, the guidelines terse and educational. At times, both serve to highlight the shady, sometimes questionable activities that seemingly permeate this professional culture. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Consulting Demons Inside the Unscrupulous World of Global Corporate Consulting Chapter One Consulting and Me Like many of the industry's top achievers, I did not set out to become a management consultant, or even consider a business career, until well after college. Consulting recruiters value diversity and esoterica, founded on strong educational pedigrees, knowing that this is the stuff of staying a step ahead of one's clients, of engaging, entertaining, and when need be, duping them into a paying belief in new and unique perspectives. Diversity and esoterica I had in spades. I grew up in Rhode Island in the boom years of the 1960's, when everything interesting seemed to be happening all at once, but somewhere else. The youngest of six children, I benefited from parents with a staunchly liberal, New Deal view of the world and social justice, and brothers and sisters engaged in every part of the causes of the time. Several of them would embark on academic careers, and all would at least try to live out of state if not overseas. Though working-class poor, my parents encouraged the gathering of new experiences and a high investment in education. While most were caught up in one way or another with Vietnam, however, I developed an early and obsessive interest in the space program. More than anything else, I wanted to be a scientist astronaut, or perhaps an astrophysicist, and explore other worlds and solar systems. The moon landings seemed but a small first achievement, and between Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 and Star Trek, I had all the fuel I needed to imagine humanity's future role in space. A little weirdly, but telling for my interests in international space development then and today, my personal hero of 2001 was space-bureaucrat Heywood Floyd, not the odyssey-making astronauts, and the concept of Star Trek's United Federation of Planets intrigued me as much as any alien slug-fest featuring Captain Kirk. I was fortunate to have my choice of colleges, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology I hoped would in turn give me a choice of jobs in the space program. But the late 1970's proved a dismal time for space development. Much of NASA's energy and budget was then consumed by trying to get the intractable space shuttle off the ground, and I was angered to find American popular, governmental, and commercial interest in space at an all-time low. Midway through MIT I chose two new directions which I hoped would one day lead me to an engaging career in the use and exploration of space. I started an ocean engineering major and internship program and enrolled in a domestic year-away program at the University of Chicago, to take up intensive Japanese studies. In ocean engineering I hoped to find the excitement and experience of exploration-driven technology development, something I planned to use when prospects for space development turned around. I loved the oceans, and inspired in part by Arthur C. Clarke's own celebration of both the oceans and outer space, I took up scuba diving and fully embraced my new medium. In Japan, I expected to learn something about large-scale project finance for civil engineering projects and hoped to tap that country's competitive strengths for application to space development, once the treaty law barring Japan's own space launches expired. These were towering ambitions for a poor, struggling student, but I had blundered into the right time and place for combining engineering and Japanese skills. Harvard's Ezra Vogel, with Japan As No. 1, had just hit the best-seller lists, and study of Japanese management techniques would soon become an institutionalized fad. After Chicago I returned for two more years at MIT and cross-registered at Harvard in Japanese language, business, and government, finally finishing inpolitical Science at MIT so that I could combine credits in both disciplines and still manage to graduate, in 1982. I had managed to squeeze in some fledging German into my poly sci degree, and while waiting on job applications, I took up a United Nations scholarship to do a summer internship in technology transfer at the UN complex in Vienna, Austria. Days before I left for Europe, I was offered and immediately accepted an open-ended job with the Japanese steelmaker and shipbuilder Nippon Kokan, where I would become one of the conglomerate's first foreign professional hires. I arranged to fly directly from Vienna to begin work at NKK's shipyards in Kawasaki at the end of the summer. My three years with Nippon Kokan were a key formative experience for me both personally and professionally, molding much of what would drive and sustain my later, largely unexpected commitment to consulting. Combining some of Japan's most challenging living conditions with exposure to one of the world's most stimulating urban cultures, all the while propelling me through extraordinary new responsibilities, in these years I became at once professionally confident and alive to Tokyo's many attractions, and desperately eager to find a means to enjoy them. Like many of the traditional Japanese industrial giants, Nippon Kokan firmly believed in isolating its new male employees in bachelor dormitories, where conditions were spartan at best. The idea was to build a certain sense of equality and camaraderie, reduce any last pretensions to a private life, and encourage early marriage to company-approved spouses. By and large this approach worked quite well. The pre-World War II Itanaka-ryo where I was assigned was infamous for dilapidated facilities, complete lack of heat or air conditioning through freezing winters and stultifying summers, and truly horrible food. We had one six-man o-furo bath for two hundred grimy shipyard workers, filled with hot water only every other day. I quickly learned to tolerate the blistering heat of a fresh fill of the bath, to avoid dealing with the floating scum that would quickly collect with the first few uses. Creatures of all kinds shared our quarters, from bats... Consulting Demons Inside the Unscrupulous World of Global Corporate Consulting . Copyright © by Lewis Pinault. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Consulting Demons: Inside the Unscrupulous World of Global Corporate Consulting by Lewis Pinault All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Author's Notep. xiii
Prologuep. xv
Introduction: About Consulting Demonsp. 1
1. Consulting and Mep. 7
2. The Recruiting Machinep. 19
3. Consulting Spycraftp. 31
4. The Client-Consultant Matrixp. 61
5. The Hierarchy of Fearp. 83
6. Big-Time Consultingp. 101
7. Business Prop Washp. 119
8. The Clock-Face Sales Interviewp. 143
9. Deferred Livingp. 171
10. The Great Centurionp. 199
11. The Professions At Bayp. 219
12. Zirconium Proposalsp. 233
13. Colonizing Consultingp. 249
Epilogue: Heros for the Zerosp. 275
Indexp. 279