Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Consulting Mad Libs

Ever notice the eerie similarity of consulting deliverables to Mad Libs?

It seems that as a firm gets more "mature" (in the procedure sense) all of its output becomes a massive game of "fill in the blanks." Just like Mad Libs. Need a deliverable for a small backwoods paper company? Fill in the blanks. How about a Wall Street financial? Same deliverable; just fill it in.

Oh, sure, firms like to pretend they're not doing this. "All of our deliverables are bespoke," quoth the faux Brit. "We wouldn't dream of passing off some former consultant's work for some other company as yours! Your problems are so unique and engaging, after all!"

But it's simply not true. The more I crash the conference rooms and cubes of companies all over this big world, the more I realize that everyone is just as screwed up as everyone else, and usually in the same way. I bet I could literally "global search and replace" the company name on my last deliverable for my next gig and it would be 90% of the way done. In fact, I bet I just did!

And it's not just us consultants who are doing this. I just took a gander at some legal papers (thankfully I'm not getting served this time!) and lo and behold it's an obvious paste-up. Change the names and addresses, update the property listing, and you're good to go. And just like my deliverables, the bulk of "the doc" is a standard set of appendices unabashedly attached. I bet they didn't spend more than an hour constructing this nuclear bomb!

Don't get me wrong. This isn't really a bad thing. Would you really prefer a totally-from-scratch document? Don't you think the Mad Libs approach is the best possible way to avoid omission and undesirable creativity? Let's just come clean. It's Mad Libs all the way down.

Note: The Mat Libs logo is used for illustration and parody. They don't endorse this blog, no way, no how. If you're not familiar with Mad Libs, check out their site. They're awesome!

1 comment:

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