by Conor Friedersdorf

A reader writes:

I'm a management consultant.   In particular, I help companies grow and find new business opportunities and launch them. Consultants are reviled in the business community, in the media, in movies, and often in the businesses we've been hired to help.  We're seen as highly-paid professional hit-men who come in and snidely boss around people who know their businesses best, and who are we to tell them what to do?  Worse than that, there are companies who are laying people off, but still hiring us to come in and do our work.  So naturally there is resentment within the businesses themselves, "Why did you lay off my friend and hire these consultants?"  I get it.

But what so many don't get is that there is no way on God's green earth that the vast majority of our clients can do for their own business what we can do.  They don't have it in them.  They are focused on working on the same thing for years at a time, so for them to stick their necks out on proposing a bold new business?  Not. Gonna. Happen.  I've seen it time-and-time again.  Sure, the Apples & Googles of the world know how to launch new products, but the great majority of companies do not. These companies do not have the internal ability to innovate and then bring something new to market with the same people who are stuck doing business-as-usual.

I get the question all the time: why would a company hire you to help launch a new business when they can just do it themselves?  Dirty secret of the business world: because they can't do it themselves.