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House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Timeby Martin Kihn
"Kihn knows that attacking management consultants for being superfluous is too easy a trick...we already know this. That's why he declares in his prologue that he doesn't really want to write an exposé — instead, it's a cautionary tale. The real story here focuses on the damnable daily life of the modern management consultant. Kihn's breezy, Jay McInerney-inspired writing style renders this drudgery precisely, often hilariously." Farhad Manjoo, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
"Oh — to be one of those two hundred consultants! To travel to Shanghai and scurry around doing — well, you weren't quite sure what, exactly, but how hard could it be?"
With corrosive insight and antic wit, Liar's Poker and Monkey Business tore down the imposing glass and bricks of Wall Street from the inside. Now in a dark and bitingly funny testament drawn from months of wandering through another absurdist wonderland, Martin Kihn swings his own ax against the gleaming citadel of commerce known as "management consulting." And it may just never recover... When Martin Kihn joined a powerhouse New York consulting firm, he found that in theory, the consultants' job was simply to tell organizations what they were doing wrong and how to improve themselves in exchange for huge fees. In reality, the consultants spent precious man and woman hours prowling the corporate heights for new clients, only to offer, once they snared their quarry, little or no useful information while pontificating on topics they knew nothing about.
Welcome to the House of Lies, where you'll hobnob with its princes, from the ego-drunk Rainmaker, who uses his inflated reputation to utterly confound his clients' businesses, to the humble Good Partner, who alone seems to have grasped the rare and simple secret to effective consulting. You'll witness bloody boardroom battles where low-level managers bask in fake flattery from backbiting colleagues. And you'll spend quality time with an actual client when consultants wing it on an airstream of pure panic — leaving a debris field of pink slips, self-reproducing red tape, and lost profits in their wake.
From power breakfasts heavy on the waffles and mind games to the screaming indignity of "Feedback Camp" in New Jersey, House of Lies reveals the truth about a "profession" that could threaten your job, your career, and your life... and even offers a solution or two if the suits start circling around your company.
So go on a "death march." Discover what they mean by a "brain dump." It's all in a day's work — just don't say you weren't warned.
"Complete with an appendix of terms like 'brain dump,' 'pulse check' and 'swag' (an acronym for 'smart wild-assed guess'), this somewhat disjointed, highly intelligent and deeply funny debut memoir skewers a segment of the economy that nearly every white-collar worker has learned to fear and loathe: consultancies. Kihn, who has been nominated for an Emmy as a comedy writer, went to Columbia Business School and has spent the last few years working as a consultant; he writes the 'Consultant Debunking Unit' column for Fast Company. Kihn argues that many consultants know little or nothing about the firms they're hired to help; furthermore, he contends, they often offer companies information that companies already have. For him, the consulting industry is a shell game, imparting an air of authority and expertise rather than actual authority and expertise. To achieve the illusion, Kihn says, consultants use mechanisms ranging from legions of Harvard MBAs in Oxford shirts to reams of incomprehensible blather presented as winning corporate wisdom. His reconstructed dialogue from within his (unnamed) firm and from his time serving clients is alone worth the price of admission, as is his relentless taunting (by name) of McKinsey, Deloitte & Touche and others. Agent, Simon Lipskar at Writer's House." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"With sharp wit, consultant Kihn tears down myths surrounding the highly profitable and revered management-consulting industry....No activity avoids Kihn's scathing pen, including his highly critical analysis of business books." Booklist
"Funny, lucid and lacerating — Martin Kihn does for management consulting what Julia Phillips did for Hollywood!" Graydon Carter, editor, Vanity Fair
"Such a funny and disturbing cautionary tale!" Kurt Andersen, author of Turn of the Century and host of NPR's Studio 360
"With House of Lies, we can rest assured that there are guys like Martin Kihn out there to pull off the emperor's clothes!" John Rolfe, co-author of Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle
Book News Annotation:
In this humorous memoir, former management consultant Kihn reveals the dark underside of the profession. He reveals just what consultants do, translates their baffling jargon, and describes how they are "brainwashed" in the ways of big-money advice giving. He also saves readers time by summarizing some classic management consulting books and demonstrating that they really all say the same thing. Kihn is a Columbia Business School graduate and Emmy-nominated comedy writer.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In the bestselling tradition of Liar's Poker comes a devastatingly accurate and darkly hilarious behind-the-scenes look at the wonderful world of management consulting.
Once upon a time Corporate America paid certain people huge fees to tell organizations what they were doing wrong. These men and women really knew next to nothing. They trashed businesses, destroyed careers, and wasted time and money. They called themselves Management Consultants. I know them well. I was one of them. Welcome to the... HOUSE OF LIES.
When Martin Kihn joined a powerhouse New York consulting firm, he thought his job was to help organizations. In reality, the consultants spent precious work hours prowling for new clients, and offered little or no useful information. From power breakfasts with mind games to the screaming indignity of "Feedback Camp" in New Jersey, HOUSE OF LIES reveals the truth about a "profession" that could threaten your job, your career, and your life...and even throws you some lifelines should the suits start circling your company.
About the Author
Martin Kihn was nominated for an Emmy Award for his work as head writer for MTV's Pop-Up Video, and was also a staff writer for New York magazine. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, GQ, Spy, and numerous other national publications. He is a graduate of the Columbia Business School and Yale University.
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