European countries had been pioneers of consulting for centuries before any American consulting firm ever opened shop. European consultants (although they would not have explicitly called themselves so, preferring to use the much more elegant term ‘noblemen’) set the course for many of the practices followed by consultants the world over even today. The beer case illustrates how finance, politics, economics and services were profoundly affected by a group of noblemen in 1487.
|A crown cap, reading “500 Years of Reinheitsgebot in Munich (since 1487)” on a bottle of German beer: Courtesy: Wikipedia|
The land of Bavaria continued to be an independent kingdom until the German unification of 1871. During the unification, industries, financial institutions and political interests were merged. Prussian control became near absolute. However, there was one regulation that the Bavarian kingdom insisted on being kept alive. In fact, they even demanded that it be enforced throughout the German states. This ubiquitous regulation, called Reinheitsgebot had already had a long and successful 400 year run by then. But its origins were even more interesting. It was the first instance of consulting industry having directly influenced government policy.
In 1487, an unnamed Bavarian nobleman happened to chance upon a part of the city of Ingolstadt which was infamous for most of its inhabitants being employed in the oldest profession in the world, and its subsidiary entrepreneurial franchises. His intentions, however, were pure as the driven snow. His daylong walk along the banks of Danube had left him thirsty, and he wanted a beer. However, the establishment he chose to patronize turned out to be a rather unscrupulous hub of the aforementioned profession. Being of a susceptible nature, he was taken for a ride, and having been deprived of all material possessions, left unconscious in a ditch nearby.
When he came to, he swore vengeance on all who had done him such a bad turn. Since most of his friends were members of a newly formed club called the Illuminati which happened to be operating out of Ingolstadt, he turned to them for help.
The Illuminati agreed to take on his case. True to their motto, “Gemeinsame Ambition, True Ergebnisse” (“Shared Ambition, True Results”), they decided to share the nobleman’s experience first to understand his motivations, and to try and see if they could not achieve his results. It was so agreed that they themselves would visit several such establishments to collect data on how often such muggings happen. It took several unsuccessful attempts by a team of dedicated professionals before one of them was actually mugged and left in a roadside culvert. Meanwhile, the bill charged for services rendered by the ladies to the consultants during the unsuccessful field studies were picked up by the nobleman, who was desperate to see justice done.
Since now the Illuminati had a shared ambition with the nobleman, they decided to implement the second stage of their strategy, and focus on results. A detailed debriefing of the unfortunate partner who had been mugged revealed one important insight .He was served beer by a lady of questionable reputation, and his subsequent grogginess and stupor could not be attributed to drunkenness alone, since he had had only a single sip of the brew before he passed out. So, there must have been something in the beer, and since it was served by the lady, by the principle of incrimination by association, it was the lady’s fault.
After this “aha” moment, the Illuminati elders decided that the solution to this problem lay in ensuring that such ladies did not serve beer anymore. Not just in Ingolstadt, but across all of Bavaria. For the Illuminati believed that their services should result in far ranging and sustainable social impact. Consequently, it was decided that they should lobby for a change in government policy, which would ensure that the ultimate objective (a sustainable social impact which would also solve the nobleman’s problem) would be met.
The Illuminati’s presentation on the issue at hand consisted of a ‘final solution’, which was presented to the government in the form of a policy which they could implement. In short, it read “It is the policy of the Bavarian government henceforth that any Bavarian lady serving beer to noblemen, within the confines of such places as wherever this policy may be implemented by law, be a virgin.” This policy was quickly accepted by the council of noblemen who represented the government (and who, coincidentally, happened to be led by our hapless nobleman) and passed as a law.
The Bavarian Purity Law affected the service industry and the economy of Bavaria profoundly. Although beer sales did plummet initially, the industry soon recovered when it became a point of differentiation for pubs to promote themselves as “100% compliant with the Bavarian purity law”. The oldest profession in the world was not hurt at all, since it served an unmet need that ranked higher up in the Maslow’s hierarchy than drinking beer.
The other European countries also began to take an interest in the matter when the fad of drinking beer that was compliant with the Bavarian Purity Law spread across Europe. The Bavarian finances noticeably improved over the subsequent years due to increased exports. However, this also brought about a subtle change in the wording of the law. Since it was impossible to export Bavarian virgins along with the beer for the purpose of serving, the law was changed to the effect that any Bavarian lady brewing beer which was meant to be consumed by noblemen be a virgin.
And so it continued till 1871, until the German unification. Unfortunately, by then virgins had become in short supply in Bavaria, and the beer exports threatened to outstrip the number of virgins who could handle brewing, creating a huge bottleneck in the system. Illuminati, who by then had become more dominant in social and political circles, amended the policy drastically to allow non-virgins to brew beer, thus freeing up the industry to produce enough to meet demand. Our nobleman, who by then was dead, did not object.
The Bavarian purity lawcontinues to thrive well even today, and American consultants occasionally raise toasts to the ingenuity of their European predecessors. After all, beer and sex are a great combination.