Book Summary : The Mckinsey Way by Ethan M. Rasiel

I believe this is one of the titles, most of the B School students will read. Also, a plethora of summaries, abstracts, tips from this book are already available in the internet. Still here is my notes from the book:

Caution : Don't expect you will think like a Mckinsey Consultant, just by reading this book! I believe no learning will be equal to actually being a Mckinsey Consultant :)

The Mckinsey Way written by Ethan M. Rasiel provides a good insight about the company, its consulting processes, some of the frameworks, life of consultants and tips for aspiring consultants. 



McKinsey & Company was founded in Chicago in 1926 by James O. ("Mac") McKinsey, an accounting professor at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, who pioneered budgeting as a management tool.

The three pillars of building a solution @ Mckinsey are:

1. Fact Based
2. Rigidly Structural
3. Hypothesis Driven

The Firm promotes clarity of thought and expression. Every document has to follow the MECE rule: mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive.

The consultants try to solve a problem to the highest possible extend at the first meeting itself: Creating an Initial Hypothesis(IH).

To structure your IH, begin by breaking the problem into its components - the KEY Drivers. Next make an actionable recommendation regarding each driver. Later breakdown each topline recommendation into Benefits & Issues.

The above exercise will lead to an issue/solution trace. For testing the IH, recheck all the IH of team members; check for other possibilities.

-> Understanding the 'right' problem is the key.
-> Don't reinvent the wheel. Every problem will be similar to another; but at the same time unique.
-> Don't make facts fit into your solution
-> Make sure the solution fits for your client. ( A wonderful business solution is useless if the company lacks the resources to follow the advice.)
-> Sometimes problems may be unsolvable (suggest alternatives)

Ethan later talks about various rules that can be applied/checked for problem solving like:

- 80/20 Rule
- Don't boil the Ocean (Smarter analysis)
- Find the KEY DRIVERS (that affect your business)
- The Elevator Test (You should be able to explain your solution in 30 seconds)
- Seize every small opportunities while solving a problem (these will boost the morale and your credibility among the clients)
- Always think of the big picture
- Learn to say "I don't know"
- Don't accept "I have no idea" (Challenge it irrespective of whether it comes from others or from you yourself!)

The second part of the book talks on 'The Mckinsey way of working to solve problems" i.e how Mckinsey implements the model in a day to day basis by going through a real life like case.

Ethan argues that the right way to sell a service or a product is not to barge into your customer with samples and glossy pictures of benefits; but to be there at the right time and make sure the right people know who you are. Mckinsey never sells or advertises, it markets by very valuable insights and publications.

Set definite milestones which you can achieve. Don't give false impressions.

Later he talks about how important teams are in Mckinsey. The success of team is in forming the rightly skilled members. Also he talks about how teams are kept in harmony. However these seemed to be just general gyaan on team building :)

An interesting advice is "The first rule of success in a hierarchy is: make your boss look good. To please your boss, do your job well. Keep your boss informed, but not overloaded with information."

Later, Ethan talks about how a consultant takes the interviews with the clients. Prepare well with checklist before the interview and start the interview with general easier ones before moving to specific and sensitive ones. 7 tips for successful interviews:

  • Have interviewee's boss set up the meeting
  • interview in team/pairs
  • listen carefully
  • pharaphrase - analyze a subject's answers thoroughly
  • use indirect approach to get to a topic
  • don't have long interviews
  • use columbo tactic


All work done, but without presenting it well, there is no use!

The final parts of the book talks about how to survive @ Mckinsey and Life after Mckinsey...

A good read indeed!

1 comments:

Amit Kumar mod

Very insightful.. Thanks :)

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