back to article BOFH: All hail the job cuts consultant

BOFH logo telephone with devil's horns So the PFY and I are hanging around the boardroom because the Board's Zoom call keeps cutting out. London skyline, beer on windowsill Looks like the Zoom call's over The Board members themselves aren't overly happy that we're here, but as this is our third time coming up to restart …

  1. Maverick
    Happy

    BRILLIANT as ever, but I'm sure I have met this consultant in real life ;)

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      You mean someone who's read the same books then?

      I remember when one of the management team kept posting little aphorisms from his favourite business guru on the intranet.

      One of these was along the lines of how, while the bumblebee couldn't fly, it didn't know that and just did it anyway.

      I pointed out that anyone who's basing their business advice on a pre-war French botanist's piss-poor knowledge of aerodynamics probably wasn't worth listening to. Particularly when they didn't at least cross-check their homespun wisdom with the Wikipedia "List of common misconceptions".

      1. Joe W Silver badge
        Pint

        Oh... this example always gets me started. The problmes with Reynolds numbers etc.

        I'll have ---> to calm me down.

        1. PC Paul

          They were right though, except that what they proved was that bees can't GLIDE. Flapping wing flight is a lot different.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Botanist? Do you mean Antoine Magnan?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          And according to wonkypedia it was his mathematician/engineer who did the calculation.

      3. Blackjack Silver badge

        And they stole the quote from the Bee Movie.

      4. Shalghar

        Allegories going wrong in so many ways...

        The "motivational" waste of paper that was hung at our companies billboard concerned a bunch of frogs trying to climb a tower. Only one frog succeeded because he was deaf, unable to hear the constant unspecified but likely demotivational comments by unspecified onlookers.

        I made "friends" by reinterpreting that "motivational" story.

        All the frogs except one reconsidered the utterly useless task to climb a tower while the one unwilling or unable to actually think before climbing up (and, as management allegories go, unable to listen to reason) ended up in a harsh, dry place with no food or shelter, as the top of a tower is usually a lot less moist than those little amphibics are used to and somewhat lacks the presence of insects a frog usually feeds on.

        A top example that, before beginning a task, the mandatory questions along the line of "what for" or "why" should be asked.

    2. Sam not the Viking Silver badge
      Pint

      Management Consultants

      I've been (un)fortunate to be crossed several times by Management Consultants during my career(s). I've always felt that any management that needs to call in a set of consultants to tell them how to run their business are advertising the fact that they don't know what they are doing. And are easy cost-savings. The main weapon in consultant's armoury is 'reduce the number of staff'.

      I've also had 'experts' introducing 'new' systems which were in fact re-worded versions of established systems, widely known. One guy was devastated when asked why he was claiming his revolutionary new process was actually 'Management by Objectives'. He could not fathom that anyone else might have read the same books. Devastated to the point that he went from being a consultant, about to be employed permanently, to not turning up the next day. Or ever again. A win there for us, I think.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Management Consultants

        "The main weapon in consultant's armoury is 'reduce the number of staff'."

        I thought the main weapon was to go and talk to the staff who are doing the job and know what really happens. Then write that up and present it with a large bill. Because it comes with a large bill it's worth much more than the same information coming from somebody who's paid a pittance.

        1. Stoneshop
          Coat

          Re: Management Consultants

          Their two main weapons are talking to the staff while giving the impression of listening to them, telling upper management to reduce head count and a fanatical devotion to McKinsey.

          Among their main weapons are such things as, um, sorry, I'll come in again.

          That three-piece purple robe, thanks.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Swarthy

            Re: Management Consultants

            I did not expect that comment!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Management Consultants

        Devastated to the point that he went from being a consultant, about to be employed permanently, to not turning up the next day. Or ever again

        Just out of curiosity, did that coincide with a small area of the carpark being mysteriously resurfaced...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Management Consultants

        Does it apply also to governments that call in external consultancy firms like McKinsey?

        1. Shalghar

          Re: Management Consultants

          "Does it apply also to governments that call in external consultancy firms like McKinsey?"

          Who knows ? Do you talk about the renamed Arbeitsamt/Jobcenter (formerly public, now part private work agency) in germany that wasted around 60 million euros a few years ago to a search engine thats even worse that the likes of stepstone and unable to show "anything within the region" ?

          Not to mention that my wife, when using that abomination, finally got a free job offer in a call center located in Dublin/ireland. Which somewhat does not match the search criteria "in or 25 kilometers around hamelin (germany)".

          Or may we talk about the millions wasted for the consultants, why the job agency as unable to gain a good reputation and why employers in germany rarely waste resources to mention vacant positions to the agency. The study cost around 22 million euros and can be reduced to "because your service sucks".

          There also might be a dishonourable mention, Ursula von der Leyen, concerning the excessive spending for consultants while she was occupying the ministery of defense. I am unable to remember the total sum as there where several mentions over several months thtat would have to add up but i am quite sure thats in the several hundred million euros range altogether.

          There was even some kind of investigation started but as sarcastic as i am from experience thats just another place on the pork roll for the "investigators" not something i expect to have a useful outcome.

      4. Fathom

        Re: Management Consultants

        The one time I encountered one of these blights, I made a point out of being deemed redundant. Needless to say, they let me go. Firstly I collected unemployment which devastated the consultancy I had been the Director of Operations at, as they hated losing money the old-fashioned way. Then they lost a massive amount of income as my contacts left that company when I went private after a month's vacation; the group of them went with me over into my own consultancy (as an individual consultant working on a by contract basis, I still collected unemployment on the days I wasn't working). I remember when San Francisco was fun (circa 1991). I think word of that may have circulated as I've never encountered the phenomenon again. I'm now happily retired just North of S.F., plumb amazed at the decline of what was once a wonderful place to play.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I know I've met a few salespeople that fail the Turing Test.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I've come across helpdesk droids that fail the Turing test.

        1. N0083rp00f
          Facepalm

          I have spoken with managers and the occadional director who could fail the Turing Test.

  2. juice
    Pint

    "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

    Most cost effective move ever.

    1. UCAP Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

      Ahh, but we still don't know what sort of gun they are being fired out of

      1. Blofeld's Cat
        Coat

        Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

        And will the company be able to find replacements of the same calibre.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

          replacements of the same calibre

          So they would fit the aformentioned gun too?

          :)

          1. Joe W Silver badge

            Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

            I vote for getting a trebuchet....

            1. richardcox13

              Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

              A trebuchet is always a win.

              1. Korev Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

                A Canon is always very good for "Project Execution", because you can get it signed off as a printer...

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

                .. as long as it handles cows..

                1. KarMann Silver badge
                  Boffin

                  Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

                  …as long as the cows are perfectly spherical, and in a vacuum, that shouldn't be a problem at all…

                2. 4d3fect

                  Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

                  "Pitchez la vache!"

                  1. Paul Herber Silver badge

                    Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

                    A French-speaking Gerard who is an actor, ah, Comrade Depardieu. Bet he's glad he handed back his French passport now! Bon chance!

              3. Paul Herber Silver badge

                Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

                Try putting that through on expenses. Accounts would go ballistic!

                1. Stoneshop
                  Devil

                  Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

                  You could easily expense a guillotine as severance costs.

                  1. perlcat

                    Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

                    ...in the same way as you can expense your time at the strip joint as "laptop servicing".

            2. Korev Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

              Is this what they mean by a project catapult?

            3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

              "I vote for getting a trebuchet."

              The rate of fire might not be enogh to keep up with demand. Better get two.

            4. TheWeetabix

              Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

              You need at least a small cannon to “fire” them. With a trebuchet, at best they got “tossed off thoroughly”.

      2. JR
        Devil

        Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

        Bill the cannon/trebuchet as a reusable 'Launch Expenditure' that can be used for all kinds of new product 'launches'.

    2. ShadowSystems

      Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

      I misparsed that to mean that we were going to set them on fire.

      *Looks over at the fresh shipment of backpack flamethrowers*

      I should probably cancel that order for extra fuel, huh?

      *Sighs & reaches for the phone*

      Damn...

    3. Ididntbringacoat

      Re: "Gerard's going to recommend firing the board."

      You're going to send them to ceramics class?

  3. Ozan

    Thank you for cheering us up in those sad days.

  4. Il Midga di Macaroni
    Go

    BOFH has excelled himself

    His ability to hoist the boss on his own petard using clever technology and low cunning is what we know and love about the BOFH. Raising the stakes to board level is just that much better.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: BOFH has excelled himself

      But did he target the janitor?

      1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: BOFH has excelled himself

        You don't target the people who know where the bodies are buried, due to helping you dig the holes.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: BOFH has excelled himself

      I particularly like the way they set it up so they both had to be called up to the boardroom and be present and witnessed in the same room as Gerard, albeit live by video link, at the exact same time, thus neatly quenching any smouldering suspicions that this might be a set up.

    3. TRT Silver badge

      Re: BOFH has excelled himself

      Constructive ambiguity.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge
    Pint

    Excellent (steepling my fingers)

    Nicely done Simon! Have one or two of these! -> You've earned them!

  6. Anonymous South African Coward
    Pint

    This is pure gold.

    Time to toddle off to the pub and the weekend...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "This is pure gold."

      Indeed. the first half has more quotable phrases per square inch than Shakespeare and the second is in the top ten of BOFH skulduggery..

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Brilliant

    Every time I think the BOFH has achieved peak deviousity, he goes and proves me wrong... again!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brilliant

      Real men know you shouldn't peak too early.

      :)

  8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
    Pint

    Best use of AI I have seen so far

    But it is still not as smart as the devious mind behind it

    Superb episode

  9. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

    slipped up there...

    Gerard should have been Bob Robertson.

    I hope the firings go well....

    1. Marty McFly Silver badge

      Re: slipped up there...

      Actually I'm getting promoted.

      I know, it is completely unfair.

  10. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Devil

    Them's fightin' words!

    Gerard's a fairly dull person to speak to – and I've talked to OS2 fans.

  11. DS999 Silver badge
    Trollface

    If I'm getting 10% of the "cost reduction" whether changes are implemented or not

    Once the ink is dry on that contract (which I've paid top lawyers to insure is totally ironclad) I don't need to waste time on interviews, I'm recommending closing the company down to "reduce costs" by the maximum amount!

    1. Snafu1

      Re: If I'm getting 10% of the "cost reduction" whether changes are implemented or not

      #Umm.. why close down an asset that's providing a steady income?

  12. spuck

    HELLO [BoardMember], MY NAME IS CONSULTANT SBAITSO.

    I AM HERE TO HELP YOU.

    SAY WHATEVER IS IN YOUR MIND FREELY,

    OUR CONVERSATION WILL BE KEPT IN STRICT CONFIDENCE.

    MEMORY CONTENTS WILL BE WIPED OFF AFTER YOU LEAVE,

    SO, TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS.

  13. Herby
    Facepalm

    Are we sure that....

    Gerard wasn't an AI invention of Simon's? Properly programmed to do the "dirty work" that really needed to be done (in a much more "clean" way)? Maybe all those shell companies and memes are just a figment of someones imagination.

    We may never know, but if it were, Simon might end up running the company (it has happened, you know).

    1. Stoneshop
      Holmes

      Re: Are we sure that....

      Simon might end up running the company

      What makes you think he doesn't?

  14. xyz123 Silver badge

    I actually saw something like this happen.

    Entire department was formed to find "savings". someone else in firing line pointed out this department was going to end up as 10percent of net profits....disbanding before it got started "saved" that 10% and bonuses ahoy!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, yes! Love the finish line! The BOFH is still king!

    We are not worthy!!!

  16. earl grey
    Pint

    "talked to OS2 fans"

    I hope the cafeteria still has that ice machine.

  17. skeptical i

    proven results

    "What's a perceptive stress question?"

    You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lies on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't, not without your help, but you're not helping. Why is that Leon?

    Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about your mother.

  18. wjake
    Facepalm

    MBWA

    I once (jokingly) suggested Management By Walking Around to my Boss.

    Yep, he did it. Made it mandatory with a daily checklist to be filed and reported to him.

    Forget the books, all the Management wisdom you need is in Dilbert comic strips. /s

  19. Ashto5

    Axeman

    I worked at a place that employed a new manager.

    When she walked in dragging a pull along suitcase she looked like one of the Hobbit dwarfs she just didn't have the axe at the time.

    I pointed out to the permanent members of staff that trouble had arrived.

    Over the next 8 weeks she slowly decapitated the staff numbers in the dept, followed by the number of servers allowed to run the company.

    Finally she altered the terms of employment, notice period, redundancy payments & pension contributions.

    The staff left were to scared to object and then she was gone.

    It really felt like "walked with the devil in the pale moonlight" moment.

  20. richdin

    Job hunting

    From my experience - these so-called consultants are actually gunning for a job in the outfit they are consulting. Numerous times a consultant has come in with grandiose plans and lots of bells && whistles - which culminated in their receiving a senior (aka high paying) position in said company.

    1. Robert Halloran

      Re: Job hunting

      >> Numerous times a consultant has come in with grandiose plans and lots of bells && whistles - which culminated in their receiving a senior (aka high paying) position in said company.

      Saw this more than once; they come in as a senior exec, get their plans started with great announcements of good things Coming Real Soon, then get out before the issues start to show up and the Grand Plan runs into reality and craters.

      They notch another firm on their CV, and move on to some other firm; lather rinse repeat...

    2. Shalghar

      Re: Job hunting

      I believe there are different kinds of consultants (all except one variety redundant and malicious,though) with different personal targets.

      Here is a small list of what types of CONsultants i have met in my life:

      (and i do not really care wether you read the CON in french or in american english. ;) )

      - Leeches of overly inflated systems. Like those ISO9000 paperpushers, completely irrelevant and of no use at all. If a company really needs something vague, imprecise and useless like the ISO9000 rituals to construct an illusion of "quality" control, they already implicitly admit that they have no clue whats happening.

      - Those with a customer defined intent. Union busting accomplices to specifically target union representatives and other workers in related fields (like the not necessarily unionized "Betriebsräte", elected representatives for the workforce in germany). Of course their "analysis" has the predefined outcome.

      - The aforementioned infiltrators with the intent to "kill" for the victims job.

      - The sadly useless ones. Actually the only kind of consultant i ever saw that are really trying to document issues and always fall on the same deaf ears the rest of the company has already experienced too often. Intelligent enough to actually make reports that show real issues but dumb enough to believe that those reports will change anything if the fault lies with management. Or maybe they know and just do it for the money. Either way, nothing comes from their visits.

      - The simple parasites, causing damage like in the old saying:"Those who can, do. Those who cant, teach. Those who cant even teach, consult."

      - Last but not least, the paid excuses. Their predefined analysis will blame anyone and his dog, the weather, "the market situation", of course the lazy, incompetent workers for any and all shortcomings that are actually management faults.

      So, yeah, pretty much the well known bullshit jobs.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullshit_Jobs

  21. Medixstiff

    Reminds me of the number of times we have had company wide team building exercises yet none of the Manglement team did them...until last year.

    One of the exercises was to to throw objects of various sizes into a box. There were two teams, each with two teams, one to guard the box and return whatever fell out and one to collect the returned objects to the throwers. And there was a line midway neither team could cross.

    So the Manglers thinking they knew better went first and more than 5 minutes later they finished.

    Now one thing the presenters said was you could use everything around you to help, so we folded three desks over and put them around the box so nothing would bounce out from the sides and back and then we threw the smallest objects in first and worked our way up, because when the bigger items went in first, everything else would bounce off them and out of the box.

    36 seconds later we were finished and the looks on the Manglers faces ware priceless.

  22. perlcat

    Getting rid of the board

    That would be where the most money is, Gerard's good.

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