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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, body art, dancing, self-empowerment, coaching, effective communication and, last but not least, vegan gluten-free food and good movies.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

What do consultants actually do? A funny although veg-unfriendly story with a specific amount of sheep

I've received this sheep story from a LinkedIn contact of mine and I found it absolutely funny, although it is not veg-friendly.
Still, I think is a very effective metaphor of how a lot of (not so good) consultants actually work and deal with people.

A shepherd was herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of the dust cloud towards him. The driver, a young man in a Broni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the shepherd: 'If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?'

[Purple Wool by Vicki Fredricks]

The shepherd looked at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looked at his peacefully-grazing flock and calmly answered: 'Sure'.

The yuppie parked his car, whipped out his IBM Thinkpad and connected it to a cell phone, then he surfed to a NASA page on the Internet where he called up a GPS satellite navigation system, scanned the area, and then opened up a database and an Excel spreadsheet with complex formulas. He sent an e-mail on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, received a response. Finally, he prints out a 130 pages long report on his miniaturized printer then turns to the shepherd and says: 'You have exactly 1586 sheep'.


'That is correct; take one of the sheep' said the shepherd. He watches the young man selecting one of the animals and bundling it into his car. Then the shepherd says: 'If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my animal?'

'OK, why not' answered the young man.

'Clearly, you are a consultant' said the shepherd.
'That's correct' says the yuppie 'but how did you guess that?'

'No guessing required' answers the shepherd. 'You turned up here although nobody called you. You want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked, and you don't know crap about my business... Now give me back my dog'.

Not all consultants are like this, of course.
And yet, a funny story can explain a situation better than a dozen of statistics and essays. Do you agree?

Tags: Funny story, Sheep stories, Being a consultant, Sense of humor

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