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Are management consultants as useful to society as farmers, doctors and soldiers?

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It depends a lot on the type of consulting. Digital transformation of a manufacturing company is a pretty obvious net-good — it makes everyone’s work more efficient.

Strategy consulting (which is what I do) has more nebulous value, but arguably we are making it more likely that companies spend their resources on areas most likely to bear fruit and boost gdp-per-capita.

Most importantly, strategy consulting is quite difficult (in terms of hours, soft skills, and hard skills). That’s one of the reasons we we are paid more than teachers or nurses, despite providing less “societal value” — demand exceeds supply, and supply is not very flexible.

There are several reasons that consultants are needed:
- you have a short term project and can't hire someone to do it
- you need an outside view
- you need special skills that you don't have or need long time
- you need more arguments on your side against leadership or employees
- you don't want to take the blame
-...

I chose to become a consultant for a) the money (yes I honestly say that) and that I can change things as an expert in my field (public safety) which helps to save lifes and make the public safer.

For the money I get I have to work longer, train and learn more then others and get paid money. I see myself as privileged and enjoy the time.

Am I better then a soldier, doctor or policeman. No, I am not. They safe life, they give their life. But I do the projects that help them to work safer. I just do something different. You can't compare these two. And often my clients understand that and appreciate what I provide and that I travel far, work longer and can't have their life.

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I am gonna go against the tide here and say we all have our roles to play.

Hospitals are notorious for hiring MC to help them operate better which in turn gives doctors the opportunity to treat more people.

A farmer can produce but just producing food is not enough. The food needs to be distributed safely. And MC also work a lot with food companies to help them distribute better.

And I can’t see how soldiers are useful to society

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Nah, McK1's whole argument is predicated on the false assumption that soldiers are only needed to defend against other soldiers. If every other nation's soldiers disappeared, we'd still have a need for soldiers.

Separately, I'm not convinced the consulting industry has a net positive material impact on GDP. TBF, I'm not convinced one way or the other, but I don't think it's a foregone conclusion.

Y’all who are saying soldiers aren’t useful only say that because you’re so privileged to have never lived in a world where your personal security is in jeopardy.

You can argue about the utility of the grunt who just stacks boxes in a warehouse or sweeps aircraft hangars. But collectively, an effective professional military is worth everything you invest.

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I agree with M1 here. Protection from foreign threats is just one component of our military’s job — protection of financial assets is another. Up to the reader whether that is the “right” thing to do for our common interest.

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I once improved operations at a banana plantation. I like to think children enjoying bananas had their life improved by my work.

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Sadly McKinsey has that market segment locked up

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We are a net drain on society

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More useful than soldiers. Not as useful as farmers or doctors.

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So as of 9/10/01, what was the reason there hadn't been a 9/11?

Did soldiers let us down on 9/11?

This kind of thinking is absurd.

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No

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Not sure about management consulting as a whole, but I’d say Deloitte consultants are the most valuable members of society

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I’ve spent half my career in corporate, half in consulting.

While in consulting, I love the diversity, the chase, the pace. But I’m generally unfulfilled at the end of the day since I realize I add little value to clients and especially to society.

While in corporate, I love the ownership of building a business unit and the direct impact of our business (pharma), but it can be incredibly boring and repetitive. Yet at the end of a stint, I feel like I created value for the firm and for society at large.

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Then you aren’t a good consultant. I get the former while helping my client deliver the latter.

smart

As consultants we are responsible for making the 1% richer and destroying the middle class.

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We’re soldiers of powerpoint

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See packaging for product details.

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“Now with clothing!”😂

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Unpopular opinion, occasionally a consulting engagement can result in millions of dollars of shareholder wealth — while much of this funnels directly to executives at this hypothetical client, the value also lifts employee retirement funds and the portfolios of both institutional and retail investors.

Now, have I been a part of such an engagement? Only time will tell 🤓

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OP - The wealth generally comes from providing a service that others value and therefore purchase.

Shareholder wealth is not zero sum / is not all
About distribution - there can be a net gain to the majority even in the context of cost cutting

I think this pretty much says it all.

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What are the basic needs to sustain life?
- food (farmers)
- health (doctors)
- safety (soldiers)
- air, water, etc etc

What improves the quality of life?
- stable economy / society
- financial security
Here consultants may play a role, but in my personal opinion a doctor has a more meaningful impact on life’s basics. Difficult to be a successful consultant if your having an infection and no doctor exists to diagnose you.

How many consultants have a doctor? How many doctors need a MC?

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The entire management consulting industry could be blown up tomorrow, and society would be just fine, minus perhaps some staffing and supply chain issues which would resolve over time.

If doctors, farmers, or soldiers disappeared tomorrow - not so much.

Judging by the answers here, lots of folks in our industry are indeed just as out of touch with basic reality as the stereotypes suggest.

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How the hell do you think we got this country in the first place? WAR

How do we have stability and peace so we can focus on what we want to do?….we have a badass military to keep out the bad guys.

I was in corporate/industry for over 10 years, just started my first gig (2 months in) in consulting and IMO so far its total bullshit! I’m in technology and more than 80% of the folks ive come across have no f’ing technical acumen whatsoever. Again IMO consultants exist so companies can say we had a 3rd party come in and do xyz…so they can say we’re accredited and pasted some BS litmus test so their customer feels more comfortable.

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Okay so I now change my answer. Management Consultants are MORE useful than an Afghanistan soldier.

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I do apologize, folks. Trying to make some light out of things.

No. Sorry.
It’s like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Consulting is not necessary to fulfill basic needs. It exists towards the top tier of the pyramid.

smart

I’m a doctor and a management consultant - answer is irrefutably yes

uplifting

Why do you say this? Curious

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