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Monday, January 16, 2012

The complexity premium_the paradox of Consulting v/s Academicia

ERP, BPR, SCM..the list of acronyms coined by consulting firms is ever increasing. And one can tell a consulting presenting by the sheer number of slides and the variety of graphics, frameworks and general complexity. In essence, brevity is not rewarded. But in academicia, the case is opposite. While papers tend to be verbose, they are compulsorily prefixed by executive summaries/abstracts as well as keywords, which forces the authors to get to the point and use English which mere mortals can understand, atleast for those areas. But I've lost count of the consulting frameworks/terms which can be summarized without loss of understanding, in just a sentence.

Why is this so? I guess it boils down to incentives, like anything else. To justify their fees, consultants cannot make the end solution look too easy-especially strategy consulting! But academics present research to their peer audience, who are seasoned veterans of BS without much patience for reading through trash. So the main incentives vary. And though consulting reports DO have an executive summary, the same is not true of presentations in all cases, and in any case, the underlying reports themselves are verbose and complex.

But why to mention it in this blog? At top management schools like IIM Ahmedabad, students are trained to be concise and brief(except in some Organizational Behavioural courses but I leave that for another day!). And then suddenly, they encounter this strange animal 'Consulting' where brevity is appreciated for outlining concepts/slide planning BUT not while making the final slides/reports-in which it seems consultants compete for who can make the most outlandish acronyms/frameworks/theories.

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