The McKinsey Way by Ethan M. Rasiel
CategoriesSales Consulting

The McKinsey Way provides access to the problem-solving, communication, and management techniques of one of the most admired consulting companies. Anyone can take & use these learnings to be more effective and efficient—and, successful

The three pillars of building a solution @ Mckinsey are:

  1. Fact-based: Facts compensate for lack of gut instinct & also bridge the credibility gap
  2. Rigidly Structured:
    1. Think in threes
    2. Be MECEMutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive: The problem should be broken down into issues which are MECE, means no overlap between 2 issues and at the same time all the issues should cover all the parts of the problem
  3. Hypothesis-driven: Create an Initial Hypothesis (IH) at the first meeting itself.  Dig for the facts to test whether the hypothesis is right or wrong; adjust the hypothesis to match the facts and then, repeat the process. To structure an IH, begin by breaking the problem into its components—the Key Drivers. Make an actionable recommendation regarding each driver. Later breakdown each top-line recommendation into Benefits & Issues. The above exercise will lead to an issue/solution trace.

Developing an approach

  • Understand the ‘Right’ problem; the problem is not always the problem stated! Use the 5 Whys and keep an open mind to ensure that you are addressing the cause and not the effect of the problem
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Most business problems resemble each other more than they differ. Search for solution in your database or talk to Client’s Employees, Suppliers, Sister companies or People in your network
  • Remember every client is unique!
  • Don’t make facts fit into your solution (Be flexible while approaching a problem. Don’t let a strong initial hypothesis become an excuse for inflexibility)
  • Pluck the low hanging fruit first; solve the easy problems. Continue to hit singles, not home runs. The way to success is to solve hundreds of little problems
  • Make sure the solution fits for your client and they can implement it. (A wonderful business solution is useless if the company lacks the resources to follow the advice)
  • Sometimes you have to let the solution come to you!
  • Sometimes problems may be unsolvable. Suggest alternatives

80/20 and other rules to live by

  • 80/20 Rule
  • Don’t boil the Ocean (Do smarter data analysis)
  • Find & focus on the Key Drivers that affect the business
  • The Elevator Test—Explain your solution in 30 seconds (Only recommendations. No reasons)
  • Always think of the big picture (Is it the most important thing you should be doing right now?)
  • Learn to say “I don’t know” (Rather than giving silly solutions; because people will find out!)
  • Don’t accept “I have no idea” (Ask few open-probing questions. Combine it with cultivated guessing)

Selling the study
Mckinsey never sells or advertises, it markets by very valuable insights and publications. The right way to sell a service or a product is to be there at the right time and make sure the right people know who you are.

Assembling a team

  • Choose people with right skills, and personality
  • Bond with the team and know them (at a personal level!)
  • Let the team know what they’re doing & why they’re doing

Managing hierarchy
The One rule: Make your boss look good. If you do so, he will make you look good as well Do your job well. Keep your boss informed, but no information-overloaded

Doing research

  • Always start with the Annual Report
  • Look for outliers in data (Why has it happened, why they look especially good or bad)

Conducting interview

  • Before an Interview:
    • Make an Interview questionnaire. Know what do you want
    • Have Interviewee’s boss set up the meeting
    • Plan to do Interview in pairs (One person asks questions, other person take notes)
  • During the Interview:
    • Listen carefully
    • Paraphrase —Helps to correct wrong understanding
    • Use indirect approach to get to a topic, be sensitive to the Interviewees sentiments
    • Use ‘Columbo’ tactic: Present the facts that appear to conflict, give the person the benefit of the doubt, and then ask questions for clarification
    • At the end of an interview, always ask, “Anything else you wanted to tell me or I missed to ask?”
    • Don’t have long interviews (aim for 30 minutes)
  • After the Interview:
    • (When you are back in office) Always write a thank you email or call in person to oblige for the interview

Conducting interview

  • Be prepared. (Good practice: Share a pre-read)
  • Purpose of brainstorming is to generate new ideas—leave preconceptions out of the room; bring the facts, but find new ways of looking at them
  • Remember: There are no bad ideas; there are no dumb questions
  • There are diminishing marginal returns on duration of a brainstorming session

Making Presentations

  • Resist the temptation to tweak your presentation right up to the last moment
  • Walk all Stake-holders at the Client-side thru’ findings/recommendations before gathering them into one room
  • Keep slides simple—one message per slide

Managing Internal communication

  • Keep the information flowing. Over-communication is always better than under-communication
  • Three keys to an effective message
    • Keep a message concise
    • Ensure your message contains everything your audience needs to know
    • Ensure the message has a structure
  • Always look over your shoulder; maintain confidentiality

Managing Internal communication

  • Keep Client team on your side
  • Engage the Client in the process. Difficult or impacting solutions need support from all levels of the organisation
  • Be rigorous about implementation
  • Deal with liability Team members

Surviving at McKinsey

  • Find someone senior in your organisation to be your mentor
  • Make travel an adventure will lighten your load.
  • Take these 3 things with you wherever you go: Clothing, Tools–writing pad etc. and Personal-care items
  • For recruitment, use case-based interviews to test analytical thinking process
  • To get a life: Make one day a week off-limits; don’t take work home and plan ahead