On any given Sunday night, viewers can tune in to House of Lies
, Showtime’s dark comedy about management consultants based on the tell-all book of the same name by Martin Kihn. (And Kihn’s book also carries the rather unfortunate subhead: How management consultants steal your watch and then tell you the time
The TV show, although over the top and a bit cliche, is still streaming into living rooms—as well as people’s collective subconscious—each week. And, as a result, will leave plenty of innocent bystanders seeing Don Cheadle as Mr. Management Consultant. And, just in case you were hoping the show would go quietly into that good night, no such luck. It’s ratings are strong and it was just renewed for a second season.
Not that any of that, of course, will cost you one client or one dollar of revenue. It won’t, but as a long-haired Andre Agassi proclaimed: Image is everything.
And, in fact, it is. Which brings us to Bain, which has had the rather unfair distinction of having its good name thrown around in a Barbarians at the Gate kind of way a lot lately. And no one’s making the distinction between Bain Capital and Bain & Company.
But because consultants usually won’t—and often can’t—talk publicly about all the positive impacts they’ve had on businesses and bottom lines, they’re left with others—be it Showtime or the media chasing negative claims—defining their profession.
And while it’s certainly frustrating for us here at Consulting magazine to leave some of the most positive and inspiring stories we hear on the cutting room floor, I’ll bet we don’t know the half of it. What I do know is that I cringe every time I hear a consultant begin a story with: “Well, we’re trying to get the client to agree to share this one publicly... .”
They never do. And that part of the job, I would think, has to drive consultants crazy. And so we’re left with Don Cheadle’s Marty Kaan as the iconic image of the profession. For one more season, at least. Joseph Kornik
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief