Management consulting sucks: Jill Lepore edition

Chris Blattman, a former management consultant himself, links to this New Yorker article on the origins of management consulting. Consulting is an easy target, and I (in a self-interested and biased way) think it gets a bad rap - for example, I don't think the lack of intellectual rigor insinuated by Stewart's "two-handed regressions" anecdote is a fair characterization of the best work that we consultants do. But some of the author's jabs are quite fair, and her profile of a handful of historical figures is fascinating.

Here's the obligatory takedown of modern work culture (better than most):
Home and work, separated since the first stirrings of the Industrial Revolution, have been growing back together again: BlackBerry on the nightstand, toaster in the photocopy room. Efficiency was meant to lead to a shorter workday, but, in the final two decades of the twentieth century, the average American added a hundred and sixty-four hours of work in the course of a year; that’s a whole extra month’s time, but not, typically, a month’s worth of either happiness minutes or civic participation. Eating dinner standing up while nursing a baby, making a phone call to the office, and supervising a third grader’s homework is not, I don’t think, the hope of democracy.
... and the witty but biting conclusion:
Lillian Gilbreth died, of a stroke, in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1972, at the age of ninety-three. She was cremated. The Times ran an obituary headed “Dr. Gilbreth, Engineer, Mother of Dozen.” She had always believed that the world needed “a new philosophy of work.” She never did manage to write it.

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