Just like most heaps of dung have an ad hoc ecosystem of insects living on or in it, many companies seem to have a few consultants buzzing around feeding and laying eggs.  These creatures are attracted to the smell of budget allocations, pending or recent disaster, or the need for highly specialized skills on a temporary basis.

Consultants are almost always highly specialized critters, having highly evolved senses and proboscises for the collection of nectar from deep within the treasury organ of the corporate flower.  It is common for consultants to tap into upper level management having budgetary authority.

The infestation stage of their life cycle can begin in many ways.  Consultants are not often seen unless they are in the feeding stage of their lifecycle. When they are looking for a blood meal, they can descend on the unwary manager and dazzle her/him with their flashy appendages.

The infestation can be deleteriously parasitic or genuinely symbiotic. Some consultants plant themselves on an artery and pull blood until the host expires. I will include law firms in this savage group, since lawyers really are a type of consultant. Not all lawyers will draw down the resources of the host to a dangerous level. Many are able to sustain their relationship indefinitely through the exchange of useful services in exchange for a draw of blood now and then.

A company can become infested in many ways. Executives at trade shows are particularly vulnerable to picking up consultants on their legs as they muck around in the fetid swamp waters of business development. It is important for business development managers and executives to check one another for puncture wounds indicating the implantation of consultant larvae.

Consultants find their host organism in many other ways. Business associations, fraternal organizations, and chambers of commerce are known venues for infestation.

Having a consultant glued to your leg isn’t all negative. There is occasional need for their services. The trick to using a consultant profitably is to define the need very carefully and work with them to develop a structured plan so that their work product is well defined. Resist the temptation to turn over the keys to the company while they do their work. It is important to manage consultants very carefully since they are usually quite expensive. If executed properly, consultants can be quite useful as highly skilled temporary specialists.