Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chapter 5: If You Don't Mind, I'll Have Your Watch Please

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Chapter 5
If You Don't Mind, I'll Have Your Watch Please

The SUSPECT: The Consultant

Previous chapters:
Chapter 1: The End
Chapter 2: Ideas Lost
Chapter 3: Who Killed the Sparq?
Chapter 4: Mother of Invention

Gupta Narendrenathan was sending emails. As a Senior Partner of McKlaskeys he liked to keep the Tyros on their toes. ‘Tyro’ (an out-of-date expression for a student pilot) was how the ‘Made Men’ (a Mafia expression for the true members of the ‘brotherhood’ – McKlaskeys’ Equal Opportunity Policy did not reflect the mindsets of the key powerbrokers) referred to the cannon fodder they had to keep working flat out at 260 fee-earning days per year until they moved ‘up’ (to a more senior position) or ‘out’ (left behind in a client organisation like a cold war ‘sleeper’ ready to be awakened so the next time McKlaskeys wanted to milk the client they would have a person on the inside).

Gupta loved sending out these Sunday emails. He knew the electrifying effect it had on the Tyros who would arrive at work only to discover that they were already behind and would need to shift immediately into the highest gear just to stand still – productivity at its best. The market was hot – the firm’s multi-million investment in marketing their ability to help clients deliver innovation was paying off handsomely and there was a need to see how much they could take out of it now. Speed was important. But sometimes there were little hiccups. The project they had started at ALCORP showed lots of promise for providing a return on all that marketing investment. It had at its centre a CEO who had publicly ‘nailed his colours’ to the innovation mast – this effectively condemned him to spend, spend and spend until he could point at enough ‘innovation’ to justify his promises. Great news for McKlaskeys. Except for the fact that simultaneously engaging McKlaskeys he had appointed a Director of Innovation. Now how does that work? Either he wants McKlaskeys to drive it or he wants the Director of Innovation to drive it. If he trusted the Director of Innovation to deliver he’d have let him select, appoint and brief the consultants. Gupta smiled to himself slyly – McKlaskeys was safe. And the 2000 fee-earning days were safe, provided the new director’s credibility could be kept down long enough whilst savaging the credibility of any internal competition and intrapreneurs. Gupta leaned back in his chair. He knew why he always suggested that a new client undertake a ‘benchmarking’. They always agreed and they always came out badly. It was money for old rope. Of course they would come out badly. If they’d been brilliant at innovation they wouldn’t have engaged McKlaskeys. The best part of the benchmarking output was the way, as a by-product, it discredited any internal entrepreneurs. So far so good at ALCORP. The report benchmarking their innovations in the pipeline had savaged several of them quite satisfactorily.

This is taken from the manuscript of Prof Eddie Obeng's new book Who Killed the Sparq? We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments below.

Want to read more?

Chapter 6: I Wouldn't Have Started from Here
Chapter 7: Weeding Out the Weaklings
Chapter 8: Still Hunting and Gathering


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