Management Consulting Definitions


Management consulting is a profession that is guilty of using flashy buzzwords and eye-rolling phrases. Known as consulting ‘lingo’, the following terms are used to describe a whole host of situations and activities that seemingly appear as borderline ridiculous to outsiders.

If you can memorize these terms then you’ll easily be able to speak to consultants on their level. Arguably, the following terms were mostly derived from the business industry but appear to have been stolen – and somewhat adapted – by the consulting industry in an effort to communicate words that otherwise did not have a clear vernacular.

This list is by no means exhaustive but it certainly covers the most common terms found in presentations, workshops and even proposals.

30,00 foot view – An assessment of an activity or conclusion that represents the middle layer of an organization. It’s usually used to describe the nature of activities that occur in business operations.

50,000 foot view An assessment of an activity or conclusion that represents the strategic layer of an organization. As opposed to a 30,000 foot view, it means you’re examining an activity or conclusion ‘at the highest most strategic point’.


Accelerate – A term used to imply that you’re going to move quickly to a recommendation or activity. It’s used to advise a client that there is opportunity to reduce the time it takes to achieve an activity and therefore the project team will capitalize on that opportunity to complete the project in quicker time.

Actionable results - In consulting, "actionable results" refers to recommendations, insights, or solutions that are clear, specific, and can be implemented by the client. It means that the results provided by the consultant are concrete and practical, rather than being just theoretical or abstract. Actionable results often include specific steps or actions that the client can take to address a problem or improve their business.

Alignment - In consulting, "alignment" refers to the process of bringing different stakeholders, teams, or departments within an organization into agreement and working towards a common goal. It means that the different groups are all moving in the same direction and are all committed to achieving the same objectives. This can involve aligning the strategies, processes, goals, and priorities of different departments or business units within the organization.

Analysis paralysis – When a consultant or group of consultants has analyzed a problem to the point when they’ve lost sight of the original problem in the first place. Veterans of consulting will know that most client problems only require simple, straightforward outcomes. However, paralysis can occur when a consultant hasn’t addressed the real nature of the client’s problem and has ventured into thought processes that change the trajectory from reaching the correct and most logical solution. 


BAU – Stands for ‘Business as Usual’.

Back end – In business, "back end" often refers to the behind-the-scenes systems, processes and technologies that support the functioning of a business or organization. This might include the servers, databases, and software systems that store and manage data, as well as the internal systems and processes that are used to manage the day-to-day operations of the business. The "back end" is usually the part of the system or organization that the customers or end-users do not interact with directly.

Bandwidth – The amount of spare time you have to work on a proposal or project. If you have ‘extra bandwidth’ it means you’ve committed to working on more than one task at a time and probably working across two projects.

Bench / beach – When you’re not working for a client or being billed to a project you will be on the bench. When you’re on the bench it will probably mean you’ll be involved in writing proposals for your next project, or you’re undertaking training to advance your personal development. Some organizations use ‘on the beach’ which describes the same thing but is more satirical and implies that you’re taking a holiday because you’re not working hard on a client assignment.

Best of breed – When this term is used it’s usually in the context best practices. It means the client is wanting the best available knowledge or system applied to a particular problem or function.

Best practices – Arguably the most overused term in the industry. Best practice implies that there is a process or method that can be used on a client project that will help improve that client’s business in some way. The only problem is that there is no such thing as ‘best’. What may be applicable to one client may not be applicable to another. In industry there are frameworks that companies can implement that will allow them to implement a more superior way of working. However, these are a guide only and may improve a client’s business if they determine they need to be adopted at all.

Billable – A term used to describe that your time can be charged and invoiced to the client. Being a billable consultant is absolute paramount in your career as a consultant. Its essentially how your firm earns its revenue and ultimately pays your wages. Over the course of a 12 month calendar year, your billability is usually measured as a percentage. For example, 50% billable means you were working for a client for six months of the year.

Big Four – KPMG, Deloitte, PwC and EY make up the ‘big four’ companies. These are the four companies that developed a consulting service off the back of their tax advisory and audit businesses.

Boil the ocean - In consulting, the phrase "boil the ocean" is used to describe an overly ambitious or unrealistic approach to a project or problem. It means attempting to solve or address every possible issue, regardless of its relevance or importance. This can lead to an excessive amount of time and resources being spent on unnecessary tasks and ultimately, a lack of focus on the most critical areas that need improvement.

Buy-in - In consulting, "buy-in" refers to the process of gaining the acceptance, commitment, and support of stakeholders for a proposed solution or course of action. This process is critical to the success of a consulting engagement, as it ensures that the stakeholders affected by the proposed solution are on board and fully invested in the process.

The buy-in process usually involves communicating the proposed solution and its benefits to the stakeholders, and addressing any concerns or objections that they may have. It also involves involving them in the decision-making process, and providing them with the information and resources they need to support the implementation of the solution.

In some cases, buy-in also involve the negotiation or agreement of a certain set of terms or conditions which will be bind both parties (client and consultant) before the actual implementation of the solution.

The process of buy-in is important to the consultant because it helps to ensure that the proposed solution is well-received and that it will be implemented effectively, which is necessary for the overall success of the consulting engagement.


Capacity – Similar to bandwidth it implies you are not working on a project or proposal and therefore have time to commit to a task of some type.

Captain of Industry – A consultant who has significant experience in a specific industry and is known within that industry for their expertise. A Captain of Industry is typically a consultant who is regularly invited to speak at industry conferences, writes articles or journals in their field of expertise, or even pioneers new concepts that will drive the growth of that industry.

Centre of gravity – A military term that is used to define the one thing that can destroy an army in the heat of a battle. In consulting it is used to define something that can ruin or bankrupt an organization if left vulnerable. For example, a bank could hold all its customer data in a single data center. Therefore its data center is its center of gravity because if all that data was corrupted then that bank would go out of business overnight. However, a center of gravity can also be something less tangible. For example, if staff morale at a company was low, then that business may slowly suffer from poor staff engagement, high attrition, poor performance and a number of other intangible effects. Over time, that company would suffer indirect losses and may end up losing significant business as a result.

Change agent - In consulting, a "change agent" refers to a person or group who is responsible for leading and facilitating organizational change within a company or organization. Change agents are typically brought in to help organizations improve their performance, processes, and efficiency by introducing new ideas, methodologies, or technologies. They work closely with the management and employees to identify areas of improvement and implement new ways of working.

Client – A client is the individual or organization who employs and pays for the advisory services provided by management consultants. When you work for a client, you’re providing non-tangible advisory services that will result in specific outcomes.

Client facing - In consulting, "client facing" refers to the role or responsibilities of a consultant that involve direct interaction and communication with the client. A consultant who is client-facing is responsible for building relationships, understanding the client's needs, communicating progress, and delivering the final result. A client-facing consultant plays a key role in the client's perception of the consulting engagement and the value delivered by the consultant.

Client ready – This has several meanings and can be applied to numerous instances. For example, an individual may be ‘client ready’ if they are deemed to be well presented, knowledgeable and in good stead to meet with a client without embarrassing anyone. In consulting, being told ‘you’re not client ready’ is perhaps the worst thing you can be told. Likewise, a ‘client ready proposal’ means that document is ready to be seen by the client because it is of exceptional standard and represents the official stance and position of your consulting firm.

Collaborative - In consulting, "collaborative" refers to a style of working that emphasizes working closely with the client and other stakeholders, in order to achieve a common goal. Collaboration in consulting typically involves a close and active partnership between the consultant and the client, in which both parties work together to identify problems, define objectives, and develop solutions.

Coming in hot – A military term that describes a situation whereby you’re about to be attacked or lambasted by an angry client. If you’re about to walk into a client meeting and a team member says “you’re coming in hot” that generally means your client is about to criticize your work or throw a series of tough questions your way. When this happens, do your absolute best to prepare yourself beforehand. If the client does end up attacking you, ensure you stick with the facts and look at attempts to address whatever concerns they have.

Cookie cutter - In consulting, the term "cookie cutter" refers to a process or approach that is used in a standardized or formulaic way, without taking into account the specific needs or unique characteristics of a client or project. The phrase has a negative connotation, suggesting that the approach is inflexible and fails to provide customized solutions that meet the client's needs.

Coming in cold – Mostly used in consulting sales, the phrase describes the moment you’re asked to present to a client without prior knowledge of the client or the problem they’re trying to solve. The cold interaction means you’re meeting the client for the first time, know nothing about their background or history, or motivations for wanting to employ consultancy services.

Competency – Refers to a consulting skill or behavior that is used by a firm’s human resources team to review the performance of their consultants. For example, a competency could be leadership. Therefore, during a consultants review period, the HR team will assess that consultants demonstration of leadership throughout the year against that competency.

Core competency - In consulting, a "core competency" refers to a specific area of expertise or unique capability that a consultant or consulting firm possesses. This can be a specific industry, functional area, or type of work that the consultant has significant knowledge and experience in. A core competency is something that differentiates a consultant or consulting firm from its competitors and enables it to provide high-quality, valuable services to its clients.

Cosmetic – A cosmetic enhancement is when a document only requires very minor (almost trivial) changes to improve the overall status of that document.

Critical pathways – On an assignment a consulting team will usually develop a series of recommendations for their client. A critical pathway describes the scenario and outcome that will occur if the client choses to adopt one recommendation over the other. For example, scenario “a” will occur if the client choses recommendation 1, scenario “b” will occur if the client choses to implement recommendation 2 and so forth.

Customer – A customer is an individual or organization that buys products or goods from an organization. Dealings with ‘customers’ is transactional in nature – similar to buying something from a department store – and therefore if you’re in consulting you’d seldom use this term to describe the entity that has employed your services.

CXO - Stands for "Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer, and Chief Experience Officer." They are often used to represent the most senior or executive level management positions within a company or organization.


Deck – A client deliverable developed in Microsoft PowerPoint which contains all your analysis, assessment and recommendations. The term deck derives from the ‘deck of paper’ that resembles the thickness of the paper. A deck is your most important piece of work as a management consultant. When developed correctly, it can convey a profound message to your client by steering them to an ultimate conclusion as part of your recommendations.

Deep dive - In consulting, "deep dive" refers to an in-depth analysis or examination of a specific subject or area of a client's business. The purpose of a deep dive is to gain a detailed understanding of the subject and to identify potential issues, opportunities, and areas for improvement.

Design Thinking – A methodology to identify alternative ways of solving problems. It is usually conducted through a collaborative style workshop whereby each participant is afforded the opportunity to provide a unique perspective of the situation. It follows the sequence of empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test and its philosophy is ultimately to put the user or customer (human) at the forefront of the solution.

Domain expert - In consulting, a "domain expert" refers to a consultant or team member who has extensive knowledge and experience in a specific industry or sector, such as healthcare, retail, or technology. They are often considered as subject matter experts in their field, and can provide specialized knowledge and understanding of the specific industry dynamics, challenges, and trends. They are able to understand the specific requirements of the industry and offer tailored solutions.

Due diligence - In consulting, "due diligence" refers to the process of thoroughly investigating and evaluating a company, organization, or project before making a decision or taking a particular course of action. Due diligence is typically performed to assess the potential risks and opportunities associated with an investment, acquisition, or other business decision. The process usually includes gathering and analyzing financial, legal, and operational information about the company or organization in question.


End-to-end – In consulting, "end-to-end" refers to a holistic approach that covers all aspects of a project or problem, from the initial assessment or analysis, through the design, implementation, and delivery of the solution, to the final evaluation of the outcome. It means taking into account all the steps and factors that are involved in the process, with the goal of ensuring that the solution is comprehensive and covers all aspects of the problem or opportunity at hand.

EOD – An acronym for “End of the Day”.


Face time – A meeting that requires you to interact with a client face-to-face.

Framing - In consulting, "framing" refers to the process of defining and structuring a problem or challenge in order to better understand it and develop a solution. It involves identifying the key issues and elements that are relevant to the problem, and defining the boundaries and scope of the problem in a way that guides the consulting process.

Functional expert - In consulting, a "functional expert" refers to a consultant or team member who has extensive knowledge and experience in a specific functional area, such as finance, marketing, human resources, or operations. A functional expert is highly skilled and knowledgeable in their area of expertise and is able to provide expert advice and guidance to clients in that specific field. They often have industry-specific experience and knowledge, allowing them to have a deep understanding of the problems, best practices, and innovative solutions that are relevant to their area of expertise.


Gain momentum – When a project or idea has gathered wider acceptance and both the client and their stakeholders are slowly adopting the solution that has been proposed.

Gain traction – An idea you have proposed to a client has been considered and been accepted as a possible option.

Gold, Silver, Bronze – The versions a document or deliverable goes through as it improves in quality over time. Working backwards, a bronze version is a first draft. It will likely contain a lot of errors or inaccuracies and recommendations that are yet to be validated. A silver version is when the client has reviewed the bronze version for the first time and has provided feedback. Finally, the gold version is when the deliverable is close to being finalized and officially submitted as an output to the client. When all deliverables within a project reach ‘gold’ it implies the project is nearly over as all deliverables have been reviewed by the client and finalized.


Hands on - In consulting, "hands-on" refers to a style of working that emphasizes active participation, practical application, and direct involvement in the work being done. A hands-on consultant is one who is willing and able to roll up their sleeves and actively work alongside the client's team to achieve the goals of the project. This style of working involves directly implementing the solutions and processes being recommended, as well as providing guidance and mentorship to the client's team throughout the engagement.

Hard skills - In consulting, "hard skills" refer to the specific technical or functional abilities and knowledge that a consultant possesses. These are specific, quantifiable abilities that can be easily learned and taught, such as proficiency in a particular programming language, knowledge of a certain software or tools, or experience in a specific industry or business function. Hard skills are often acquired through formal education or training and are typically easy to measure and evaluate.

High performing team – A group of consultants who have common traits of being highly educated, highly motivated and (generally) high achievers. A high performing team also means that group will likely work collaboratively on an engagement in order to deliver exceptional results for their client.

Hollow out – When a deliverable contains too much detail that could be perceived as useless by the client. To ‘hollow out’ means to remove the details and keep the important recommendations or messages within the document. When this occurs, consultants will usually move the remaining data or information to the back of the deliverable in the form of an annex.

Hypothesis driven approach - In consulting, a "hypothesis-driven approach" is a methodology that focuses on testing and validating assumptions or hypotheses about a problem or opportunity, before developing a solution. The approach is based on the scientific method, which involves forming a hypothesis, testing it through data and research, and then analyzing the results to draw conclusions and make recommendations.

The approach is often used in management consulting, strategy consulting, and data-driven consulting, as it allows the consultant to use data and analysis to inform decision-making, rather than relying solely on intuition or experience.


IB – Investment Banking

Influencer – Refers to an employee in a client’s organization who has influence over a senior executive. When undertaking engagements for a client, it is key to identify who their influencer is and ensure you’re always on their good side.

Innovation – A process used to explore ideas and invent something new. In business, innovation means developing a new way of working, process or system that will lead to a positive result for the business and its customers. The idea could be something physical (like a technology idea) or more conceptual like changing a policy or procedure to influence a new and efficient outcome.

Intellectual Property - Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols, names and images used in commerce. It is a legal concept that gives the creators of these works certain exclusive rights to use, produce, and distribute them. The most common forms of intellectual property are patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.


Join the dots – Consulting jargon that means a consultant has connected various pieces of data and information to form a conclusion or recommendation.


Key takeaway - In consulting, a "key takeaway" refers to the most important or critical point or insight that the consultant has gained from the engagement. This can be a recommendation, a conclusion, or a new understanding of the problem or opportunity at hand. A key takeaway is something that the client or organization can take away from the consulting engagement and act upon, to drive improvements or change.


Lead on a journey - In consulting, "leading on a journey" refers to the process of guiding and facilitating a client through a process of change or improvement. The consultant acts as a guide and a facilitator, helping the client to identify their goals and objectives, and then leading them through the process of achieving those goals.

Legal Eagle – A staff member who works for the legal team within a consulting firm.

Lean – A term which is continually morphed into different meanings depending on the context. It originally refers to the Toyota Production System (TPS) methodology for lean manufacturing. TPS is a culture-based methodology used to identify improvements in a process with the view to make that process as simple and efficient as possible. However, in broader terms, lean also implies that either a process or organization is running at high cost efficiency with little waste or overheads and high customer satisfaction.

Litmus test – Based on the scientific method of testing materials for acidity, in consulting, a litmus test is used to test a hypothesis or approach with a client before actually committing to it as part of a consulting project. It’s to see if the client is actually open to the idea first – as a proposition – to avoid disagreement or backlash later in the project when it becomes too late to withdraw that idea.

Low hanging fruit - In consulting, "low-hanging fruit" refers to the easiest or most obvious opportunities for improvement that can be quickly and easily identified and implemented. This phrase is used to describe actions or changes that can be made with minimal effort and resources that can bring significant results. These are often simple and straightforward changes that can bring quick wins and immediate benefits.


Managed service – A managed service is where a company has outsourced some of its operational services to another company under an agreement. For example, instead of managing the payroll service internally, a company may decide it would be easier and more cost effective to allow another company to manage the pay and salary of its employees. Management consulting salary

Manage upwards – When you’re dealing with a difficult person in your firm who is of a higher position and you need plan on how to manage that person. When you need to manage upwards it means that a more senior colleague has trouble working with you and your approach to your project and is potentially thwarting your relationship with your client.

MBB – MBB stands for the "big three" management consulting firms: McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Bain & Company. These firms are considered to be the most prestigious and selective management consulting firms in the world, and they are known for their rigorous hiring standards and intense training programs. They typically focus on strategy consulting for large corporations and government agencies. Note that prior to 2014, MBB stood for McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and Booz & Company (with the latter replaced by BCG after it merged with PwC and re-branded as Strategy&).

Mission critical – Describes an activity on a project that must be complete ‘above all else’. This could be the actual entire project itself or something of higher importance such as leading a workshop with stakeholders. If you advise someone in your team you are working on a mission critical task it signals to that person to stay out of your way and let you do you work.

Mobile office – Mobile office implies that you can fly anywhere at a moment’s notice to work with a client and have everything you need in a single briefcase. The briefcase you use should contain all your office needs. This would include laptop, mouse, phone chargers, business cards and other office material. However, a mobile office would also include a spare tie (if you’re a male), toothbrush, comb, shaving kit, notebook and pens.


Off shore – Many large consulting firms rely on support from countries that have rich resource pools. Offshore or offshoring means a company is relying on support from an overseas country where labor is in abundance and the cost of that labor is probably lower than it is in its home country.

On Task – Literally means you’re on a billable project.

On the job training – A throw away phrase used by senior management in a firm to describe that consulting experience can only really be learned “on the job” as opposed to acquiring such knowledge in a training or classroom environment. Consultants, usually junior consultants, tend to have a disposition to always ask for more training. However, the response from their managing partner is almost always “the best training is on the job training”.

On the road - In consulting, "on the road" refers to a consultant or consulting team that is traveling to different locations to work on projects or meet with clients. This can mean traveling to client sites, attending conferences, or visiting other offices of the company. This kind of work often requires a lot of travel, and the consultant or team needs to be able to adapt to different environments and situations.

Overcooked – When too much work or effort has gone into a document or activity to the point that work becomes redundant. Often, simplicity is the key yet management consultants like to demonstrate their intellect by creating significant pieces of work (mostly by volume) – even though such efforts may not be necessary in the first place.


Parking lot – A standalone activity that is held as part of a meeting to isolate thoughts that should be left for analysis at the end of that meeting. It’s reserved for ideas that do not follow a particular thread of conversation but may still be worth exploring on their own merit at a more convenient time in the meeting (i.e at the end).

Pen Master – A person who has been delegated as the whiteboard scribe in a workshop. A smart consultant will always make the client the Pen Master in order to make them feel like they were responsible for formulating any outcomes from that workshop.

Proposal – A document which outlines the services you will provide the client. It will likely include factors such as your team composition, a project plan, and cost estimate. A strong, well represented proposal can arguably win client work on its own terms – particularly if they’re visually appealing and provide the client with a strong understanding of their problem statement and how you’ll resolve it.

Pushback – When a client disagrees with an idea or proposition. Pushback is usually portrayed as a negative term, but in reality, it just means the client is asking you to ‘try again’ or ‘give it another go’.


Ramp-up, ramp-down - In consulting, "ramp up" and "ramp down" refer to the process of increasing or decreasing the level of engagement, resources, or effort that a consultant or consulting firm is providing to a client. This process can involve bringing new team members or additional resources onto a project, increasing the amount of time or money being invested in the project, or shifting the focus of the project to address new priorities or goals.

Red eye – In consulting, ‘red eye’ means you wake up at 4am on a Monday morning to make a 6am flight so you can be at work on a client site at 9am. Red eye projects are the worst kind as they result in a loss of sleep and health, and time away from family. It means you’re flying to another city on a weekly basis for five days, with your flight returning home again on Friday evenings (after hours in your own time).

RFI - stands for "Request for Information." It is a type of procurement process where a company or organization asks suppliers or vendors for specific information about a product or service. The RFI process is typically used to gather information and better understand a market or technology, and to identify potential suppliers or vendors that could meet a company's needs. It is less formal than an RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFQ (Request for Quotation) process. An RFI typically includes a set of questions or information that the company wants to receive from the vendors, it also helps the company to form a better understanding of the market, technology and available options before making a final decision. Vendors respond to an RFI with information about their products or services, which can be used to determine if they are a good fit for the company's needs.

RFP - stands for "Request for Proposal." It is a document or a set of documents that is used to solicit proposals from potential vendors or suppliers for a specific product or service. An RFP typically includes information on the project or product being procured, the requirements and specifications for the product or service, and instructions for submitting a proposal. It is usually used by organizations when they want to purchase a product or service and want to evaluate various options from different vendors before making a decision.

RFQ - stands for "Request for Quotation." It is a type of procurement process where a company or organization solicits quotations from suppliers or vendors for a specific product or service. The RFQ process is typically used for lower-value or smaller-scale purchases, and it is less formal than an RFP (Request for Proposal) process. The RFQ typically includes information on the product or service being procured, the quantity needed, and the delivery schedule. Vendors respond to an RFQ with a quotation, which includes pricing and other details of the product or service they are offering.


Single view - In consulting, a "single view" is a term that refers to having a unified and consistent understanding of a certain subject or aspect. It means that all the data and information related to that subject is consolidated, and presented in a way that allows for easy analysis and understanding.

Socialise – When you send documentation or work to multiple stakeholders for their feedback. This could be client stakeholders or staff you work with within your firm.

Soft skills - In consulting, "soft skills" refer to the personal attributes and abilities that are not directly related to technical or functional expertise. They tend to be more difficult to quantify or teach than hard skills, and are often acquired through experience or personal development. Soft skills are important in consulting because they allow a consultant to effectively communicate and work with clients, build relationships, and navigate the complex dynamics of an organization.

Staging – Usually refers to a proposal or deliverable that needs to be formally laser printed and bound so that it looks as professional as possible before it is submitted to the client. Some consulting firms (like KPMG and EY) have printing capabilities that allow them to produce proposals that resemble magazine grade quality.

Storyboard – A storyboard is a deliverable which conveys a story of your entire analysis and recommendations to the client. It usually follows the Minto principle of logically developing high-level key themes before drilling down into the detail for each theme – hence telling the client a story of your analysis and how you arrived at your recommendations. A storyboard is structured, divided into multiple chapters (similar to how a book is written) yet commences with an Executive summary of key recommendations for quick reference.

Stractical – A term that is a mash of strategic and tactical. When consultants use this word, it implies they’re referring to something that affects both the highest and lowest levels of an organisation – but with that effect usually starting from the top down. For example, an engagement that involves staff cultural change could be considered as stractical because the change affects all levels of the organizations but usually starts with the most senior levels of leadership first. 

Stand-up – A daily 10 minute meeting that is used for project team members to update each other on the previous days activities. It’s used to raise any risks, concerns or activities that other members need to be aware of.

Straw man – A draft proposal or deliverable that contains high level hypotheses or recommendations and is yet to be seen by a client. It’s usually developed in order gain feedback and approval from within the consulting team before it can face client scrutiny.


T2 – In consulting, "T2" is typically used to refer to a second-tier or intermediate level consultant. These consultants typically have more experience and knowledge than entry-level consultants, but they may not yet have reached the highest level of seniority or expertise within the firm. They are often responsible for leading or managing smaller projects or project teams, or for supporting senior consultants on larger projects.

Tactegic – This is the opposite of ‘stratical’ but the difference lies in that change within an organization commences from the bottom up.

The headline – A sentence which, on its own, conveys the key message that a client needs to understand a situation or problem. In a PowerPoint deliverable, the headline is the heading of the slide. It summarizes the entire slide into an assessment or recommendation that, if nothing else, tells the client exactly what they need to know about that slide and which hopefully answers the ‘so what’.

Thinking inside the box – It’s common for people to say you need to ‘think outside the box’ but as consultants we like to feel that we think differently than other people. Thinking inside the box implies that you need to develop simple and standard solutions without over complicating things.

Thought leadership – When a consultant provides new perspectives to a client problem that neither their client or rest of the consulting team had previously considered. It’s when new, fresh ideas have been presented that will enhance both the analysis and final recommendations.

Tier One – Refers to any of the tier one pure strategy management consulting firms that include McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, Bain, Strategy& or LEK. These firms are generally seen as the most prestigious consultancies given their prolonged history and success in the industry, influence and connections to the world’s largest organizations, and high caliber of individuals they recruit. A key stand-out for these firms is that they usually consult to board-level executives This is opposed to other firms that will likely work with CXO executives and below..

Time sensitive - In consulting, "time sensitive" refers to projects, tasks or recommendations that have specific time-related constraints, deadlines or urgency that need to be considered and met in order to be successful. Time-sensitive projects, tasks or recommendations often have a fixed completion date or a set timeframe during which they need to be completed, and delay in their completion could have significant impact on the project or the organization.

Timesheet – A tool used to track your hours each week. It is where you enter your billable hours, bench time, sales time, and personal leave. Most firms track this via a dedicated software system. In turn, it allows management to measure how billable you are throughout the year and at what point the firm can invoice your client to recover charged revenue.

Top Two – The ‘top two’ generally refers to the two IT consulting companies which are either Capgemini or Accenture. Both companies have significant presence across the globe in terms of employee size with the former having a large presence in Europe and the latter dominating the US market.

Traceability – When you can demonstrate a clear connection between your hypothesis on a project and the data you’ve used to justify that hypothesis. Traceability means your conclusions are crystal clear because there has been enough evidence uncovered during the course of the project to validate your findings.

Transparency - In consulting, "transparency" refers to the level of openness and honesty in the communication and sharing of information between the consultant and the client. It implies that the consultant is forthcoming and open about the methods, data, and assumptions that are being used, and that the client has a clear understanding of the consultant's work process and reasoning.

Trusted Advisor – Probably the highest honorary title in management consulting, a Trusted Advisor refers to a consultant who is the first person a CXO or board member will turn to for advice. They usually have significant experience and knowledge and a long list of credentials that has made them earn that title.

Top down approach – When you commence to solve a problem from its most strategic or highest point of reasoning. Or, it could mean you’re making a recommendation to a client that can only be executed by the most senior level of leadership within an organization.  


Utilization – Similar to billable, it refers to how much a consultant is utilized over a period of time. Sometimes it can refer to a consultant simply being occupied with proposal or billable work. For example, “she is currently being utilized on this proposal”.


Value add – This term generally refers to when a consultant has provided more value to their work than what the client originally expected. In consulting, it’s always important to look for the ‘value add’ so that the client feels like they’ve received more than the value of the services they have paid for. It’s extra work and extra value which usually leads to more follow-on work.


Walk off – Probably the worst thing that can happen in consulting. A walk-off is when a client has become dissatisfied with the performance of the consulting team and has asked them to terminate the project and leave their premises. At this point, it’s unlikely services will resume with that client again and any relationships between the consultants and their clients will likely have gone cold. A walk off can also occur if a manager of a consulting team is not behaving in accordance with the expectations of the team or the firm.

Word smith – A play on the word “blacksmith” which defines a metal worker who creates metallic objects using various tools. Similarly, to word smith implies the activity of writing a message that will convey an idea in the most simplistic and clearest terms. When a consultant word smiths their work, it means they’re writing and re-writing sentences until the message conveys exactly what they’re trying to tell the client.