Traditional management consulting won't be around in 20 years, says author

08 May 2018 7 min. read
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To pen his latest book, Pat Lynes, a business transformation consultant, interviewed over 100 corporate executives from several different industries. According to the author, what this revealed was a coming revolution in the consulting industry, leading him to conclude that “traditional management consultancies will be a thing of the past in 20 years’ time”. Major trends such as crowdsourcing, the gig economy and ‘SWAT teams’ are set to transform the way businesses globally procure external advisory, putting an end to traditional management consultancies.

After a tumultuous start to the year across multiple business sectors, with the collapse of Carillion, Toys R Us and Maplin among others, Pat Lynes, an entrepreneur, author and business transformation expert has predicted that management consultancies could soon be in the midst of their own industrial shake up, or even become a thing of the past, in his book, 'The Interim Revolution'. 

To write the book Lynes interviewed 100 corporate executives to gather insight into how businesses address change and perceive the industry. He discovered that the majority of executives are unhappy with current routes to implement change; recruiting someone is costly, time consuming and risky if that person doesn’t work out, and there is generally a lower quality recruitment service available due to the industry being in decline. At the same time, executives interviewed were also unhappy with management consultancies many of whom feel they are external to a business and its culture and are often just the expensive next step after a mis-hire. Lynes found there is a feeling among executives that the primary concern of management consultancies is ‘landing and expanding’ - i.e. never actually solving issues at hand in order to keep billing. 

Speaking on his study, Lynes elaborated, “It’s clear the consultancy market is leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many, because there is a sense of them having their own, misaligned agenda. This agenda is fuelled by profit over purpose. As such, consultancies tend to operate primarily to enable their own business to thrive, rather than their clients’ business. The result is often that the client is kept in the problem as the consultancy sells in the A-team to land and expand, whilst iteratively swapping in the B and C-team. In some cases, giving clients graduates who learn on their watch.” 

Traditional management consulting won't be around in 20 years, says author

He added, “Many executives also feel that consultancies don’t bother to align themselves with the wider business culture which creates conflict and attrition. What’s more, consulting methods tend to be quite outdated, rigid and not particularly responsive, especially when it comes to ‘body-shopping’ e.g. when consultancy firms recruit IT workers to contract their services out on a short-term basis.” 

Lynes further predicts that the future of management consulting will move towards a gig economy and the use of interim teams with businesses harnessing potential of executives as pre-gelled business ‘SWAT’ teams which can be parachuted into businesses to solve problems at speed, before disbanding as quickly as they arrived. He argues that interim teams offer far better value for money; project-focused results-driven work; flexibility and the ability to react at speed, all whilst being able to inject expertise and capability around a variety of disciplines into businesses instantly. 

Research in the book also shows that interim-working is increasingly preferred by business consultants with a lot of talent choosing a better work-life balance over the traditional corporate ladder. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of freelancers in the UK increased by 43% and Lynes foresees further growth in the ‘executive gig economy’ and says to ignore this shift towards a interim working would be to miss out on untapped potential.

He explained, “Non-strategic workers, such as contract cleaners, have been outsourced for many years, so the concept is not new. However, in the past few years there has been a significant rise in the number of highly skilled, strategic, executives entering the interim management and freelance consultancy world. This network of agile talent is accessible through the right trusted partners. The rise of this executive gig economy - a phrase that I have coined while exploring this shift over the past couple of years - has empowered workers to concentrate on journeys over jobs where the experience and freedom is more coveted than the security of a traditional career path. The future executive worker is demanding flexibility. 

“Ultimately, interim work is not just an emerging trend. It’s the new normal, the new way of working. So, the sooner organisations embrace this way of working (as an enabler, rather than a cost), the more empowered they will be in the future, as the competition for high quality tech and strategic executive talent becomes even fiercer.”

A recent Deloitte report, The Open Talent Economy, supports this evidence, stating, “The evolving workforce is a mixture of employees, contractors and freelancers, and - increasingly - people with no formal ties to your enterprise at all.” The consultancy defines open talent as ‘a collaborative, transparent, technology-enabled, rapid-cycle way of doing business. What the open source model did for software, the open talent economy is doing for work. In this new economy, access to talent is more important than ownership of talent.”

Pat Lynes, Author The Interim Revolution

The book, which has received a five-star rating on Amazon, has already stimulated debate in the industry. Lynes recently launched an e-version which reached #1 in Amazon’s ‘HR’ and ‘HR and Personnel Management’ categories and #3 in ‘Business and Leadership’, while following this high level of demand, the book is available to purchase on paperback for the first time. 

Commenting on the popularity of his work, Lynes said, “The response we’ve had to The Interim Revolution has been fantastic and I’m delighted that the book is helping businesses understand that there is an alternative to the current status quo. 

“There’s going to be a bloodbath on the FTSE500 in the next 10 years - disruption is here and more is coming. Organisations and executives need to tackle unprecedented change and uncertainty to remain competitive and, frankly, to stay in a job. But change is difficult for big corporates, and it’s getting harder and more complex. Past practices are failing to deliver. It’s time for something new. There is a faltering trust in management consultancies that has arisen from years of their failing to meet expectations. Some organisations are already banning them and there’s a revolution coming, they won’t be around much longer in their current guise.”

Lynes has high ambitions for The Interim Revolution and aims to kick off a new movement, opening up the business world's eyes to an alternative to the current status quo, helping corporates to future proof against disruptive technology and learn how to close the capability and speed gap facing organisations today. The interim teams approach is the soul focus of Pat Lynes’ transformation consultancy Sullivan & Stanley and he’s even trademarked the term TaaS™ (Teams as a Service).

The Interim Revolution by Pat Lynes is available at for £10.