This Week In Consulting: The Worst Consulting Acronyms

This Week In Consulting: The Worst Consulting Acronyms

If you’re in consulting, there are a few main stereotypes I can associate with you. The first is that your personal life is probably in the shitter. You care more about SOWs than an SO, and you spend your weekends staring off into the abyss wondering if it would be socially acceptable to be buried next to your most prized deliverable.

The second is that you’re probably extremely well traveled given the number of hotel and airline points you’ve accumulated over the years. It also means you’ve had the “yeah, I have status, it’s pretty great…but not that great, because, you know, the opportunity cost…” conversation approximately seventeen times throughout your short-lived career.

But the third thing I can always tell about a consultant is their overwhelming love of acronyms. Using acronyms is our way of proving to clients – and everyone else – that we sit higher on life’s metaphorical totem pole. We’re all about efficiency, and our time is just too goddam valuable to pronounce phrases in their entirety. (And if we could tattoo that on our forehead after a long day of conference breakout sessions in Vegas, I’m sure some of us would).

Here are some of the worst.


Known as the “Center of Competence” or “Center of Excellence” depending on the “cliché-ness” of your organization, these centers are more less a place that resources go when they get fed up with the bullshit of being aligned to a geo. It’s where the nerd SMEs can get together with all the other nerd SMEs and live together in peace and harmony like little Keebler elves. That until the organization needs to cut costs and realizes a Center for Creation, Innovation, and Transformation might not be the best allocation of funding – plus no one knows what the fuck they do.


Regardless if it is for a proposal, information, quotes, or services, these requests are the consulting equivalent of the “duck-and- cover” air raid drills in a 1960 elementary school classroom. Everyone jumps to get the document, freaks out for a few days as they read it, and rocks themselves back and forth in the fetal position as they attempt (and fail) to understand it. A large request often involves multiple 3 a.m. nights, a severe lack of alcohol, lots of screaming to the offshore team as if speaking louder will solve their English comprehension problem.

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.


Change Requests. Otherwise known as the reason you don’t want to become a partner. Change requests are usually generated because your executive stakeholder can’t even read the weekly status because of the amount of red on the page is making his eyes bleed. Your lead account partner thinks the easiest way of fixing your overwhelming failure is to sell the client more work. He uses the rationale that the new workstream will ensure that we are “optimizing” and “continually innovating” against the current project plan across the program. And little does good ol’ client Jimmy Bob know, he would not have to pay to fix these problems if they were never created by the same team he’s paying to solve the problems in the first place. (All together now: WELCOME TO CONSULTING!)


Ah, McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. Where to start with these loveable douchelords. With names like Trip, Topper, and Teddy and no less than a “III” behind their name, the only thing cosmopolitan about these robots is their European wardrobe and annual “guys” trip to Whistler to hit on divorcees. While their work may be cream of the crop by client standards, I often wonder if they ever think twice about trading their life, soul, and so-called “personality” to the Ursula the Sea Witch of the consulting world. To work at one of these companies means getting full hard-ons at the thought of 165% utilization and your primary success metric being your ability to mask your vanity. But at the end of the day, I’m not here to judge. This is an accurate representation of all of us.


*drops mic*

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