Roots of skepticism

Dissatisfaction with consultants' work is not the only explanation for skepticism about the profession. Other legitimate concerns are that the consulting industry is barely organized and is not regulated internally or by any government agency.

Consulting has no real barriers to entry. It is easier to become a consultant than it is to get a fishing license. Anyone with a business card can say, "I'm a consultant," hang out a shingle, solicit, and, most frightening of all, advise clients. As Tom Peters observed, ". . . we are going to become a nation of consultants. Perhaps we already have."6

Peters isn't too far off when you realize that such unlikely companies as United Parcel Service, Dell, Hitachi, and General Electric — to name just a few—have made successful inroads into consulting services. No doubt, other companies will add further competition to an oversupplied and skeptical market.

In these times of heightened sensitivity about ethics, the lack of formal standards governing consultants, absence of regulation, and intensity of competition make it easy to understand the growing cynicism about the value of consultants' offerings. At the same time, clients' expectations of consultants have evolved to a higher plane.

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