Azure Chip Consultants Make Clear Why They Are Not the A Team

February 6, 2010

As a former Booz, Allen & Hamilton laborer, I became aware early in my career about the dividing line between the top line consulting firms and the other tiers. Keep in mind that I am now 65 and my memory is failing, but I sure recall the 60 hour weeks, the pressure, and the stressful review processes. I worked for Dr. William P. Sommers, a fellow who knocked off a PhD and an MBA before he was old enough to drink legally. Bright fellow, unlike me. Over the years, I kept in mind my brutal learning curve, moving from Halliburton’s nuclear consulting unit to BAH. Dr. Sommers pointed out that Halliburton NUS was a “C” grade firm. Interesting because at that time Halliburton NUS had 600 employees in the early 1970s, and lots of nuclear engineers. The rest of the staff were good at math, water treatment, and regular engineering stuff. Nevertheless, he told me that I came from a “C” grade firm and would have to work hard to keep my job as his helper.

I can’t imaging what Dr. Sommers would think of the baloney cranked out by some of the second and third tier outfits today. He had great respect for McKinsey, Bain, and BCG but some disdain for firms whose consultants did not work at one of the “A” outfits. Unfortunately he passed his bias on to me, the addled goose.

When I read “Forrester Crimps Bloggers: Epic E2.0 Fail”, I thought of Dr. Sommers. My hunch is that he would have found a way to balance the energy of his team with the opportunities of social media. I don’t think he would have created a situation which allowed a ZDNet columnist to describe examples of clumsiness and document that situation with the names of current and former employees. That’s why there are some outfits that are Grade A and some relegated to the “B” and “C” ranking. The difference is tough to explain. I think one has to be “there” to realize the gulf that separates the “A” or Blue Chip firms from the Azure Chip outfits.


Stephen E Arnold, February 7, 2010

No one paid me to write this article. I will report this lack of compensation to the Bureau of Labor. With unemployment down, senior managers will have time to review my failure to weasel money from someone.


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