A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 07, 2012
“Consulting: If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money in prolonging the problem”

“You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem” is a famous 1968 quotation by writer and political activist Eldridge Cleaver (1935-1998). The line has been frequently used in business.

Despair, Inc. has produced a jocular demotivational poster since about 1998:

“Consulting: If you’re not a part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.”

The popular poster jokes that consultants are more concerned about their fees than in solving problems.


Despair, Inc.
Consulting
If you’re not a part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

Google Books
The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs
Edited by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder and Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
2012
Pg. 190
If you’re not part of the solution (answer), you’re part of the problem.
1937 John R. Alltucker, “Guidance in a Medium-Sized High School,” California Journal of Secondary Education 12:158: “Does the individual citizen so live, act, and react that he becomes a part of the problem or a part of its solution?”
1941 Harry Emerson Fosdick, Living under Tension (New York: Harper & Brothers) 120: “We need CHrist’s radical remedy...by which, one by one, men and women are transferred from being part of the problem to being part of the solution.”
1947 Ashley Montagu, “The Improvement of Human Relations through Education,” School and Society 65: 469: “We know the problem, we know the solution. Let us ask ourselves the question: Are we part of the problem or are we part of the solution?”
(...)
In recent decades, the proverb has been associated with Eldridge Cleaver, who said in a 1968 speech, “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.”

23 October 2001, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “A year of DARK HUMOR Calendar pokes fun at workplace motivational themes” by Michael Precker:
“If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem,” the caption proclaims.

Fast Company
Soul Assassins
By Jamie Malanowski
May 1, 2005
Employees are probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to a company, say the misanthropes at Despair.com, who have built a business on some very nasty ideas.
The posters started appearing in 1998 or so, parodies of classic inspirational motivational kitsch. They were sly, mordant pinpricks aimed at corporate America’s healthily inflated self-image. Under a photo of two executive-class hands gripped in a manly handshake, there appears an aphorism—Consulting: If You’re Not Part of the Solution, There’s Good Money to Be Made Prolonging the Problem.
(...)
That voice is the product of three men: two brothers, Justin and Jef Sewell, and E. Lawrence Kersten, all now of Austin and its environs. They are the founders of Despair Inc., purveyors of novelty items of insidious intent.

RadioNational (Australia)
The art of demotivation (transcript available)
Broadcast: Monday 20 March 2006 4:07PM
Michael Duffy: Last year a breakthrough management book was published in America. It’s called The Art of Demotivation, and we’re now joined by its author, Dr EL Kersten.
(...)
Michael Duffy: The one I like very much is ‘Consulting: If you’re not part of the solution there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem’. And you have these lovely pictures on them, don’t you, of waves crashing or seagulls flying across beaches.

EL Kersten: Yes. In fact, if you looked at one of our products...just aesthetically it looks very similar to a motivational product, but then once you look at it and you read the title and the quote you recognise it’s actually quite satirical. And I think one of the things that’s also true of our products is...we’ve got 84 designs now and many of them are really quite insightful and they’re not just funny but they are quite insightful. So you brought up the ‘Consulting’ poster...anybody who has spent time hiring one of the big consulting firms recognises that they don’t necessarily solve your problems but there’s a good chance you’re going to spend an awful lot of money on them.

Google Books
Roadmap to Information Security:
For IT and InfoSec managers

By Michael E. Whitman and Herbert J. Mattord
Boston, MA: Course Technology/Cengage Learning
2011
Pg. 200:
Unfortunately, too many consultants prefer the quote “if you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.”

Complex IT problems, meet old-fashioned work ethic.
Honesty is Highly Efficient
March 23, 2011
(...)
I want Concord to be known as an honest and direct consulting company.  I never want us to be part of the Demotivator poster:  Consulting – If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • (0) Comments • Tuesday, August 07, 2012 • Permalink