Management consulting originated as a new branch of Business management in the US when Boston Consulting Group opened its doors in 1963. There were great companies in this period but there is no standard way to think bigger than the company level, let alone the concept of strategy. There was no standardized way to think about the 3 Cs, the Company, the Customer, and the Competition for companies. Over the next couple of decades, business became more complex and global. This is the time when companies such as McKinsey, BCG, and PWC have figured that hiring a management consultant would give them an opportunity to think beyond the horizon.
While companies expanded further and faster than ever before, management consultants came up with frameworks that conceptualized corporate strategy and created a true science. By 1980s and 1990s MBA become one of the most respected career choices as these consulting firms went after finding the smartest and brightest talent in the most reputed business schools across the US. Since then Management Consulting has become a part and parcel of the growth of not only the large corporations but also to smaller businesses.
There is “management science” and there is “art” in management. But management itself is a “ practice”, just as is law and medicine. In every practice, it is the practitioner rather than the scholar who develops the discipline, who synthesizes experience into testable concepts, that is into theory, who codifies, who finds and tests new knowledge, and who teaches and sets the example. In every practice, it is the practitioner who leads the profession and who has responsibility, both for the advancement of its capacity to perform and for its ethics.
Today the strategy industry is worth $250 B, and the value of Strategy is obvious to every company right from the Fortune 500s to startups.
While the US management consulting industry started finding avenues for worldwide expansion, the Indian economy was ripe for disruption. Indian Management Consulting started sometime after the Cold War when the western consulting firms started hiring consultants from the east to enter the foreign markets. Post liberalization, consultants were hired by Indian companies to expand to international markets and vice versa. Consulting industry expanded by leaps and bounds in India since then. Today leaders in software consulting in India such as TCS, Wipro, and Cognizant are most sought after across the world. India became a land of thousands of consulting firms serving businesses across IT, Healthcare, Finance, Analytics, and other new age technologies.
While the expertise and experience of the management consulting firms in India now have a huge variation resulting in poor brand equity and skepticism with maintaining quality. However, the return of expats and an increase in the number of firms that offer consulting services at a professional standard would improve the trust within the industry.