Scott Adams: The Consultant of the future?
This is a true story. Recently, Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) pulled off a hoax by successfully posing as an organization consultant to a team of senior leaders at Logitech. He was brought in by Logitech’s vice chairman (a confederate) ostensibly to help the leadership team define a new mission statement for their New Ventures Group. Calling himself “Ray Mebert” and disguised in a wig and fake mustache, Adams told the group that his consulting experience included working on Procter and Gamble’s “Taste Bright Project” a hush-hush effort to increase the company’s sales by improving the taste of soap.
Prior to contact with Adams, the original mission statement of the group was “to provide Logitech with profitable growth and related new business areas.” Adams eschewed this statement and worked with the leaders to develop the following mission statement: “The New Venture Mission is to scout profitable growth opportunities in relationships, both internally and externally, in emerging, mission inclusive markets, and explore new paradigms and then filter and communicate and evangelize the findings.” At the end of the session Adams revealed his true identity as the Dilbert cartoonist (ABCNEWS.com, 1997).
So there you have it—Dilbert, Dogbert, Catbert, Ratbert and now Mebert. Seriously, I myself was outraged by the hoax. Sure, on the surface it seems funny, but when you stop to think about it it’s a pretty scathing indictment of the perceived utility of most consultants. It reminds me of the Hans Christian Andersen story about the emperor with no clothes.