Jul 18, 2007

The Consultant Detective

Guest post contributed by R. Karthik. I will be back with regular postings soon, as I am down with viral fever :(

Pursuit of a career in Consulting calls for a reasonable level of subject matter expertise. Specialized knowledge is rather a sine qua non to get started with your practice in the chosen realm. The sheer diversity of domains on which consulting can be practiced itself stands testimony to this fact. Medicine, Human Resources (several micro-verticals within) Strategy, IT, Taxation, Astrology and then there are also specialists who offer consulting services on niche areas such as social media & blogging ('The Imagence Partners' for example).
One of the reasons I admire 'Consulting' as a profession is that one can consult on virtually anything.

Ever wondered what (competencies) on earth could a consulting practice be built around if it were to deal with crime detection? Arthur Conan Doyle-the creator of Sherlock Holmes describes his profession as one of a 'Consultant Detective'. When faced with the most eerie and macabre of crimes ever committed, Holmes would employ his superior powers of reasoning to construct a working hypothesis and lead the investigation to successful closure. Regarded widely as the last court of appeal to his clients-poor and the rich alike, he was often roped in to solve those cases which the official force would give up declaring "a weird and mysterious puzzle" or at worst "a joke". For Sherlock Holmes however, this was the chosen occupation and he excelled in this career with the help of his keen observation & logical reasoning. As a professional, he combined these skills with his other strengths viz. sound knowledge of the geography of London, techniques of quickly disguising oneself, appreciation of different national cultures, familiarity with the elite class of London/Europe & other reigning families in various fields (who are the most vulnerable to crime). Beyond and above all these, Holmes was endowed with what most of his contemporaries from Scotland Yard were found wanting in-common sense. With a remarkable eye for detail, he mastered the science of crime detection to the extent that he wrote 'monographs' (akin to collaterals/case-studies for documention of projects completed successfully). Even his leisure-time pursuits were in a way complementary to his profession and would help him make informed guesses to further his hypothesis in some cases. Classic examples are the study to identify different kinds of cigars from their ashes, different types of reptiles, their venom and the effects of its sting.

Around the world, fans admire Sherlock Holmes for his remarkable politeness yet graceful aversion for women, his passion for his profession, his distaste for money and not to discount, his famous quotes. When people stood amazed at his success in solving mysterious crimes, he would state in a matter-of-fact tone " It is my business to know what others do not". When his clients would ask a bill to be presented for his services, he would most often resign in style stating " The Profession is its own reward".

That Holmes was only a figment of the author's imagination does not still cloud his fame and fanfare.
Even unto this day there are people visiting 221b, Bakers Street, London in the hope of seeing the house where the world's most-adored detective lived in; only to discover 'Sherlock Holmes Memorial Museum ' and the fact that such a man existed only in print