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Dilbert on Case Studies, Consulting and MBAs

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In a recent episode of Dilbert, an overconfident business consultant has a sudden realization.

Here’s the three-panel strip from March 19 (direct link):

Dilbert.com

© 2009 Scott Adams

Although The Methodology Blog has been known to advocate business consulting and case studies in general, we stand with Dilbert creator Scott Adams on this issue. Pouring through journals and books does not make you an expert in improving business efficiency, teaching better sales techniques or implementing customer service projects. Rather, it ensures you are knowledgeable about the tiny fraction of historical business scenarios that happen to be well-documented.

Any good consultant knows: details in case studies are not prescriptive. The purpose of reading about other scenarios—where someone else has faced challenges and written down choices and outcomes—is actually much more profound than simple advice. Instead of telling you what to do the help an organization, case studies reassure us that we are not alone. These records serve to inform, not to dictate.

We often laugh at workplace issues presented in popular media (like this business process nightmare from The Office or employee engagement failures in superbowl ads. But just as business school case studies should give us pause, so should these poignant works of entertainment. There’s more to business consulting than just following the advice of others.

The team at AccelaWork wants you to acknowledge that your place of employment may need help. Read the case studies, but talk to consultants and outside experts. There’s plenty to gain if you’re open to learning.

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