My curiosity about the world of management consulting led me to this book; The McKinsey Way. It was written by Ethan M. Rasiel, a former employee of McKinsey & Company, the most prestigious consulting firm in the world. I found this book to be quite valuable in that it helped me paint a picture of the world of management consulting and also provided me with helpful tips and advice for a career in management consulting.
The introductory chapter provides some background information on the prestige of the firm, both past and present. It is a firm that hires the “cream of each year’s crop of business school graduates” and has a very long list of highly accomplished alumni; a list that includes names like Tom Peters, a management guru, and Harvey Golub, president of American Express. What better way to learn about the management consulting industry than through the eyes of someone who has worked with the best of the best, through the eyes of a McKinsey-ite.
The book is broken down into five main parts. First, the author introduces you to the McKinsey way of thinking about business problems; how to build the solution, how to develop an approach, as well as how to apply concepts such as the 80/20 principle. The 80/20 principle really clicked with me since I was already familiar with it and I had applied it to many aspects of my life. The 80/20 principle states that 20% of the input is responsible for 80% of the output. For example, 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.
Rasiel then takes you through the McKinsey way of working to solve business problems. This includes everything from selling a study and assembling a team to conducting interviews and methods of running a brainstorming session. When a solution to the problem has been formulated, usually after many, many hours of hard work, the next step is to sell the solution. This section covers making presentations, displaying data charts, managing internal communications, and dealing with client relationships.
The fourth section of the book provides advice on how to survive at McKinsey. I felt that it was very thoughtful of the author to include this section since this type of knowledge and advice is not easy to find. The management consultant lifestyle is not for everyone and the strain from this type of job can greatly impact many other aspects of your life. Rasiel provides advice on finding a mentor, surviving on the road, the importance of a good assistant, among other relevant matters that can only be enlightened with experience. Finally, the book concludes with a section on life after McKinsey. Most former McKinsey-ites go on to lead lives of high accomplishment and success. One of the most important things that McKinsey-ites take away with them is the network that they have developed.
Among the many valuable lessons contained within this book, one thing that I am sure every reader of this book will take away with them is the concept of MECE (mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive). It is a technique used by McKinsey consultants in building the solution to a business problem. To put it simply, it means to be complete and thorough while avoiding confusion and overlap. A personal example of how I used this concept, while actually reading the book at the time, would be how I applied it to a Project Charter I was creating for my Foundations of Project Management course. I used the concept of MECE,along with the McKinsey way of always grouping lists into categories of three, when writing the Requirements section of the Project Charter. These two methods helped me in creating an exhaustive list that had no overlap and was broken down into three distinct categories.
All in all, I found this book to be of great value and I would recommend this book to not only professionals interested in consulting, but to anyone who works within an organization as many of the ideas in here are transferable.