January 22, 2008
Consultants Are PlacebosWhen people who have visited Lourdes claim to have been cured by its holy waters, there are several possible explanations:
1. They were going to get better anyway, and their pilgrimage just happened to coincide
2. The fact that they believed so strongly in the healing power of the water had some physical effect on them, acting like a placebo, which helped them to recover
3. God made them better
Personally, my money's on 1. or 2. as the more likely explanations. It certainly happens that people recover without treatment, or with a fake treatment designed to make them think they're going to get better - especially if they really, truly believe that the treatment will work.
And it also just so happens that software development organisations improve without external help. At best, when consultants like me come in, we act as placebos, helping you to really, truly believe that you're going to get better.
I find the idea that organisations improve because consultants made them better frankly even less plausible than the God theory.
Posted 12 years, 10 months ago on January 22, 2008