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The McKinsey Way

The McKinsey Way, by Ethan M. Rasiel

Why I would not recommend this book

I was disappointed by the lack of content and detail in “The McKinsey Way.” It took me less than 2 hours to read. There are many blank pages between chapters and the chapter title pages have large empty borders around the chapter summaries. Furthermore, the line spacing and font size make it so that each page has relatively little content. Compared to a “normal” book, it felt like this book had only 80 pages of content, despite the fact that the book is actually 178 pages long. I suppose that one could argue that “The McKinsey Way” was written to be concise, efficient, and clear. Nonetheless, I was disappointed by the content and level of detail. Maybe my hopes were too high?

Why I would recommend this book

It was a good overview of consulting. Recently, I have been exploring alternative career paths, including management consulting. At first, I had a lot of confusion about what exactly management consulting is. In many ways, I still do. However, this book helped me to understand many aspects of a consulting job, such as data science, interviews, presentations, writing, communications, and travel. It provides a good overview of the steps that are involved in constructing a strong business case and presenting the results to the client. It was fun for me to relate many of my current job functions to the functions described in this book. Also, it was enjoyable for me to fantasize about what it would be like to be a McKinsey consultant. To me, it sounds challenging and fun! It was exciting to learn about the job aspects of consulting and consider how much I enjoy doing those things already; it got me excited about a potential career in the industry.

Some things that I learned

Did you know that McKinsey doesn’t advertise or search for work? It makes sense. The prestigious consulting firm waits for clients to call them. When a client has a problem, McKinsey is there to answer. McKinsey consultants do not cold call companies, asking for work. They know that when a client has a difficult problem, the client will call McKinsey. Hence, it is valuable for McKinsey to develop CEOs and maintain connections with industry executives.

Travel and interviews. Working at McKinsey requires lots of travel and interviews. Traveling can be fun, because you get to meet new people and see new places. However, it is also exhausting. It’s time away from family, and it’s long work days. Interviews are an important aspect of gathering valuable information. They are used to get information that you do not know. The key to conducting a good interview and extracting valuable information is asking good questions and actively listening. Before the interview, you should spend some time reflecting on the information that you want to get from the interview and writing down some questions. “The McKinsey Way” provides several other tips for conducting good interviews.

Create an initial hypothesis. Whenever consultants are hired to solve a problem, they will create an initial hypothesis of what they think the solution is. Then, they will work to prove or disprove that hypothesis. Initial hypotheses are not always correct, but that’s ok. The goal is to collect data in order to evaluate the truthfulness of the hypothesis.

The rule of threes and charts. There is a general rule at McKinsey that things should always come in threes. It is a good way to organize your ideas. Obviously, there are exceptions, where lists can have more or less components, but in general, three is a good number. Charts and graphics are typically black and white and should communicate only a single point. The recommendation is that charts should be simple, easy to read, and clearly communicate the presenter’s point. At McKinsey, a common chart type is the waterfall plot.

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