I made my living as a coach in Organizational Development projects by exploiting the weaknesses of management consulting.
Let me explain.
Here is how the story usually went:
a) Big Shot consulting firm sells Company XYZ the idea that company XYZ absolutely NEEDS to become a X-organization, or else! For X, substitute : a learning organization, a customer-driven organization, a lean organization…
b) The manufacturing sites of Company XYZ are swarmed by groups of young and bright consultants, typically just out of college, who analyze production flows, interview managers and pore over documents and procedures.
c) The output of the consultants is a hefty document (often hundreds of pages, with lots of graphs and charts – from here on referred to as The Bible) which is handed to the local management by XYZ Headquarters in a ceremony of one sort or the other, with the attached directive: this is how you should work, this is how you should be organized, by [a certain number of] months.
d) Local management is overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cryptic data contained in The Bible and goes through a phase of desperation.
e) Local management, sometimes with outside help, sometimes on its own, finally manages to extract some actionable meaning out of The Bible and tries to implement some of the deduced recommendations
f) After a series of failures, it becomes clear to local management that they have been hoodwinked. There is a difference between real people and the neat boxes that represent them in those nice charts drawn by the slick consultants; there is a difference between real interactions and those single arrows that in The Bible are supposed to capture the complex web of relations. Still, local management needs to implement something and show to Headquarters they became a paradigm of the X organization.
g) Enter Paolo Terni as a Coach – basically I am asked to “make it work”.