Sunday, April 20, 2008

Book Review: The McKinsey Way by Ethan M. Rasiel

‘The McKinsey Way’, a book written by Ethan Rasiel a former consultant at McKinsey, makes an easy going and a casual reading. Infact it could even make an overnight readable stuff for avid readers. The book talks about the problem solving approach at McKinsey, along with some tools that go handy throughout the assignment. I would be talking of some of the key concepts talked of in this book, meanwhile adding my own judgment.

Every McKinsite has to dig in loads of data and has to substantiate his argument with these facts and figures. They say “Facts bridge the credibility gap”. Quite well said. Then they rely a lot on Hypothesis, which is merely a statement or a theory that needs to be approved or disapproved based on facts, again. By negating a given hypothesis we can move closer to the possibly right solution or atleast it shows a right direction to proceed. It’s just like saying Delhi lies towards South of Chandigarh with a possibility of 45 degrees error from N-S axis on both sides. This essentially means that by using hypothesis we have zeroed upon this 90 degree arc and negated the rest of 270 degrees, thereby moving closer to the solution.

Then it talks a lot about 80-20 rule, brainstorming, interviewing the client, importance of team building, developing rapport among team associates and with the client as well. Now, these doesn’t seem something like out of the world to me. These are pretty much direct, easily understandable and have been widely exploited in the consultancy world.

There are however some new concepts like Elevator Test, MECE (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive, a very nicely thought of and well structured tool) and Prewiring. (I can’t talk about them in details here). These are very simple, yet extremely effective tools employed in McKinsey. If we try to analyze these tools (premise: after reading the book), they are quite common sensical, but the way such a simple thought has been given a tangible shape, is extremely good. McKinsites follow a simple rule of 1 message per chart, without any 3D animation, to convey the message through a shortest path.

Overall it’s a good reading that reframes your problem solving technique and can act as a ready reckoner while actually being on a project. For those in the consulting world, it’s surely a onetime readable book.

One interesting thing about the author I could make out is that, he seems to be a feminist, enamored by the feminine gender. Whenever he is quoting a loosely defined example of an associate or even someone senior in the hierarchy, he intends to fit the fairer sex in the skin of these roles. Anyways that makes it all the more an interesting reading.

Rating: 3.5 stars