Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Your institution -- whatever it may be -- is facing hard economic times. You cut the budget right and left. You freeze all hiring. You don't offer cost of living pay increases, and, in fact, talk about instituting pay cuts. What more can you do?

Why, you can hire a million dollar consultant to meet with your largest group of employees -- vice presidents -- to discover "conversations" that "we" should be having to "serve more efficiently." That's what you can do! Because money spent to pay consultants to identify conversations that should be going on is the best investment of resources. Right?

To survive this depression, I recommend more people go into the consulting business, as consultants to business (whatever business that may be), because that seems to be where the jobs are.


squadratomagico said...

Oh, god. Why is it that this post fails to surprise me?

Ann said...


But maybe we need to be more sensitive. The life of an administrator is really super difficult, having to make all of those budget-cutting decisions. Perhaps the consultant functions as a seriously overpaid therapist who conducts encounter sessions with administrators who need to express how badly they feel about having to make these decisions. If that's the case, one wonders why they don't ask a clinical faculty from the Psych department to run the meeting.

Susan said...

I don't want to trivialize the issues -- and I do know that sometimes there are people who know more than people on the ground. But million dollar consultants? It was bad enough when my old employer spent 500,000 to have us "branded" with three words. Each one was worth $150,000. Seriously. Another time consultants came in and we were better at managing process than they were.

I have thought of the consulting gig -- I could help people in higher ed do lots of things -- but running your own business is a lot of work.

My word is splogwri, which sounds like my reaction to this one.

Hahn at Home said...

Sacramento spent $600k (as I recall, that may not be exactly right) on a study by consultants to count trees in the city.

We also have a $57 m deficit right now because of the crash of the real estate market here.

Makes sense to me. Count the trees.

Ann said...

Susan's stories and the original post made me remember what one of my friends (who was in management consulting in the 90s) told me: no one ever hires a consultant unless they're sure of the answer the consultant will give them. That is, they're hired to tell management to do what management already wants to do, but they need the cover of outside "objective advice" to go ahead and do it.

Seems kind of dumb to me, but there you go. Consulting for the lot of us!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Clio, do you work at my institution? Because the thing about the vice presidents sounds right on.

Ink said...

Do they not see that it would be far more productive--not to mention free--to instead just *have* the conversations with the existing faculty?

Word verif. = swore! What, can it read minds now?

Dr. No said...

Dr. Bluestockings: Great blog, great post. You could save approximately $1.27 by swithing to blue ankle socks (stockings are a bit extravagant no?).

PS. That bit of advice will cost you $5.00.

Professor Zero said...

Consultants. Don't get me started. But the recession has convinced me to design my business card for this and now it is done and my friend, the consultant, says she will get me gigs.


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