Sunday, March 27, 2011

The McKinsey Way: Book Review

McKinsey is a very big brand in both the consulting and non-consulting world. If someone has heard of just one management consulting company, it would be McKinsey & Company. In fact I have heard people leaving a better paying job for McKinsey. Such is a brand of McKinsey. And when I came across The McKinsey Way by Ethan M. Rasiel, I couldn't help but read it. The McKinsey Way appeared to be a self-help book. I don't generally read self-help books (especially after reading The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma). But the buzz around this book like anything else related to McKinsey drove me towards reading it.

The book is divided into five parts. The first part talks about how to think about business problems. It mentions a few frameworks to represent the problem. These frameworks helps in looking at different aspects of the problem and attribute importance to each factor. The second part of the book talks about what actually goes into solving a problem - gathering a team, brainstorming, conducting interviews, researching and managing hierarchy - and how to do them effectively. The third part of the book deals with selling the solution while the fourth and the fifth part touches upon 'how to survive at McKinsey' and 'life after McKinsey'.

If there is one centralized theme of the book and one take-away from the book, both explicit and implicit, it's STRUCTURE. Right from the anecdotes mentioned in the book to the way in which the book is written - everything is structured. Rasiel describes the importance of structuring anything and everything - thoughts, email, presentation. Another theme that I found through out the book is 'putting yourself in other person's shoe'. He talks about elevator pitches where a consultant has very short time to sell his idea. If he has structured his solution and thinks form the client's perspective - chances are high that he would be able to sell his idea.

Leafing through the less-than-200 pages, one also forms an idea about the life of a McKinsey-ite. Rasiel reinforces that generally held notion that consultants put in real long hours. He also mentions about the crazy travel one has to undertake and its impact on the family life. Another thing that can be inferred from the book is that the consulting world has really high attrition so much so that it has become 'normal'. To quote from the book - "As one former McKinsey-ite told me (Rasiel), leaving McKinsey is never a question of whether - it's a question of when. We used to say that the half-life of a class of new associates is about two years - by the end of that time, half will have left the Firm." Attrition in the consulting world is one thing i want to write on, but in due time.

The book is an easy read. Rasiel has used McKinsey jargon profusely throughout the book. However he has explained them before using them. For people who have not used 'frameworks' in their work, it's a good introduction to the usefulness of frameworks. The book is designed such that one can start from any chapter and still make sense out of it. One needn't go cover-to-cover. However, I would recommend reading it from cover-to-cover.

Overall, the book makes a good read for a three hour flight or drive. It reinforces a lot of commonsensical yet very important things - especially structuring ones thoughts and communication. For people mulling a career in consulting - this book could be your yet another source of information about the consulting world.


Sakhi Shah March 27, 2011 at 4:49 PM  

Too often management books seem very common-sensical, and it seeems this is one of them. On the other hand, you review is clear, succint, and neat. :)

Prashant Mehta March 29, 2011 at 11:43 PM  

Sakhi Shah ji

Thanks. Yes. But more often than not if reinforcing commonsensical things help them prioritize among tons of other commonsensical things.

Amal April 24, 2011 at 12:54 PM  

I have today red the book and quite aptly appretiate what Mehta ji opined.

myghosthut November 2, 2011 at 1:13 PM  

readers might like this documentary

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