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Books, Business

Book Review – The McKinsey Mind

This book (which I keep calling “the Minkey Mind” after Peter Seller’s character in the Pink Panther) is an illuminating view into the brainwashing and McKinsey-speak that many of America’s CEOs and consultants spout without much forethought. While McKinsey’s “scientific” approach to problem-solving (break it down into pieces, come up with a hypothesis, test your assumptions) can sound yawningly trite, there are a few McKinseyisms that are worth being aware of. One is MECE (“mee-cee”), for Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive, a way of looking at a problem or issue in terms of the ensemble of sub-issues that must be resolved. Another is the McKinsey interview style for data-gathering, and a third is the McKinsey presentation style (“buy-in” as they put it), which emphasizes conclusions first, supporting evidence second, hypotheses third. The importance of charts and tables and an emphasis on “data” is also a big deal in McKinseyland.

In an era of flat, social enterprises, where gamification, social networking and hyperconnected mobile free-agents serve as the “glue” connecting clients, partners and employees, “the McKinsey Way” often sounds like a remnant from another century. (The book was written at the end of the 1990s.) It is scary to think that so many McKinsey consultants, having wreaked so much damage on corporate America (Enron, anyone?) still go around believing this stuff. Still, a good insight into the McKinsey school of thinking which emphasizes dry rigor and a Platonic ideal of business over the messy day-to-day realities of employees falling sick and having affairs at the most inconvenient of moments…




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