Friday, October 14, 2016

The McKinsey Way by Ethan Rasiel

I've been having some downtime at work recently. We have a pretty decent library of business books and I decided to put it to good use. The few true business books featured on this blog have been industry hallmarks. They've been enjoyable not only because of the subject matter but also due to the high quality of writing and corporate drama. The world is full of second rate business books that exhibit neither of the above qualities and for the most part I've resolved not to review them here. A few of those have had redeeming qualities - Good Strategy, Bad Strategy comes to mind - but mostly you'll find hackneyed advice that promises way too much. Business writing is very faddish.

The McKinsey Way, in its ultimate brevity, has endured relatively well. It does read like a company brochure at times, but there is enough humor and self-deprecation to ensure the reader doesn't feel like someone is trying to sell them a management consulting project. I am not entirely sure what the ultimate goal of the author was as he no longer works for the company. Is he simply using the company's good name to advertise his own work? I've heard that something similar is wont to happen with Navy Seals, the elite commando team of the U.S. army. Ex-soldiers use the brand for their own purposes, because it always attracts attention if a Navy Seal "reveals the ultimate workout snack" or something similar.

Although The McKinsey Way promises to reveal the techniques used by McKinsey in its consulting engagements, the level of detail is not high enough to actually be useful to copycats. It works better as an introductory course to the industry, for both newcomers and potential customers. It's enjoyable enough because Rasiel has the good sense to joke and question some of the aspects of life at "The Firm". Some of my initial goodwill was undone by the entirely unnecessary chapters towards the end containing tips on "Surviving at McKinsey". In a way they reveal the true audience of this type of literature: the 25-year old Ivy league MBA who travels the country advising CEOs, who still needs to be taught to keep a toothbrush with him when sleeping away from home.

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