What Can the Best Consultants in the World Teach You?

The McKinsey Way - Ethan M. Rasiel, McGraw-Hill

The McKinsey Way: Using the Techniques of the World’s Top Strategic Consultants to Help You and Your Business – Ethan M. Rasiel

Recently I started in my last position in my company’s graduate program. I was positioned to work in one of our business development departments at the HQ, also known as our “in-house consulting agency”. Most of my colleagues are ex-consultants e.g. from McKinsey and Booz&Co.

“The McKinsey Way” caught my eye during the autumn. With my new assignment at work, dibbing into the wisdom of the world’s top foremost consultants seemed like a great idea.

”The McKinsey Way” is a book based on the experiences and the learning’s of the old McKinsey consultants. The book tries to boil those learnings down to easily digestible “bullet points” – brief analysis of how to use them to solve your own business problems.

The book is divided into five chapters. Three first ones concentrate on the methods how the McKinsey consultants structure the business problems, how they solve the problems and how they sell their solutions to the problems to others. Two last ones focus on the insights of McKinsey consultants during and after their time at McKinsey:

  1. McKinsey way of thinking about business problems – How to structure a business problem and form a proper hypothesis
  2. McKinsey way of working to solve business problems – How to create a team, doing the research and dealing with arising problems
  3. McKinsey way of selling solutions – How to keep everyone heading towards the same direction
  4. Surviving at McKinsey – How to manage in a high pressure environment with long work hours and a little time for yourself
  5. Life after McKinsey – What insights do the consultants have looking back

To me it seems the book gives a pretty good overall view of the world of consultants and the methods they hold dear. I keep seeing this advice at use every day at my work.

For example in my new position at the business development function at my company, the first thing my boss asked me was if I am familiar with the concept of MECE. To my delight I had just read “The McKinsey Way” where it was referred as the “sine qua non of the problem solving process at McKinsey”. Each issue related to your business problem should be Mutually Exclusive but Collectively Exhaustive. See the following illustrative chart for further explanation:

While you get a good picture of the life of consultants, that is as far as the book goes. I was very disappointed to see that most of the advice on the book was based on just a common sense of working efficiently and well structured. When the book had something more to offer, it did not dig deeper in to the subject.

“The McKinsey Way” is written clearly and it is easy to read, but it never really offered any “oh, I see!” moments to me. If you want to learn more about consulting (and maybe even consider to work in that field), I am sure you would benefit from reading this book. Otherwise I would look for something else.

The book “The McKinsey Way” is available for example from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

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