February 4, 2012
If you're looking for a book that reflects the content of the series, well, this isn't it. However, Martin Kihn's House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time is one of the sharpest, most incisive - and biting - examinations of corporate culture and the corporate mindset, showing how people who enter a very lucrative profession often end up at risk of gaining the world, but losing their soul.
This is a much more picaresque novel, and unlike the series (which seems to be a fix-the-broken-company formula that takes stylistic cues from the BBC's Hustle), the book actually manages to draw blood. Ironically, given Mr. Kihn's past as a comedy writer, his ability to juxtapose the sole purpose of a consultant (namely, shift data around, write reports, and regurgitate back to a client) is mixed with a sharp, insightful examination of how that culture functions.
In many ways, Kihn uses corporate jargon (which is now coming increasingly cliche) as a way of examining the undercurrents of corporate culture. As someone who has worked/is working in that culture, his insights are dead-on, creating a portrait of a culture which is smooth, intelligent reading for anyone who is even interested.
(Now, many of you know why I prefer to work in non-profits; yes, there is dysfunciton, but as Kihn demonstrates throughout, corporate consultants tend to be a self-perpetuating system, operating solely as a way to generate income through meaningless "advising". Non-profits, at their best, have a core set of non-corporate values which they strive to work towards....and now Kihn has me using it).
So please, head to your local library or independent bookstore and grab a copy of House of Lies. It's actually one book that's better than the series.