This FT Magazine article about McKinsey seems to be floating around the web (haven’t read it yet … added to Instapaper). But speaking of McKinsey, I’m reminded of another FT piece about the firm that makes a really interesting point about the business of consulting:
Indeed, one of the main reasons companies hire consultants is to make sure they do not fall behind what their competitors are doing – in return for parting with their own secrets, they gain access to their rivals’ suitably disguised “best practices”. The consultant is a broker who attempts to amass so much knowledge that each company has to hire him, no matter how uncomfortable that feels.
This is true of the advertising business as well. When an agency is asked whether they have relevent industry experience, in some ways they’re being asked to take what they know about a competitor and apply it to the brand.