Making a consultancy slideshow ‘rock solid’: a study of pragmatic efficacy

The paper examines the pragmatic efficacy of a paradigmatic representational device used in the work of management consulting: the diagrammatic presentation of managerial problems in a consultancy slideshow. We present an ethnographic analysis of a consultancy mission, focusing on the momentsin which presentation is crafted, altered and discussed before reaching a stage of relative felicity. We analyze the conditions for this felicity as they are made explicit throughthe consultants’ ordinary work.We found that consultants manage three types of constrains when producing the representational device: (1) to create an appropriate effect on the target, (2) to be faithful to the “reality” of the situation and (3) to maintain an internal coherence of the representation. We further discuss these three aspects in the light of a pragmatist approach.