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Introduction In his book, The McKinsey Way, Ethan Rasiel takes readers inside one of the world's most prestigious strategic consulting firms. Drawing on his own experience as an associate for McKinsey, Rasiel reveals the secrets of the Firm's closely-guarded management techniques. The McKinsey approach is systematic, flexible and effective. Hill imparts his knowledge of the system which has developed within the Firm in order to give businessmen and women the tools they need to deal with their own business problems. Part I: The McKinsey Way of Thinking About Business Problems In Part 1, Rasiel attempts to explain the McKinsey approach to problem-solving and some rules which structure the process. Chapter 1: Building the Solution McKinsey's problem-solving process has three pillars: Fact-based Rigidly structured Hypothesis driven Facts At McKinsey, facts are the foundation of problem solving. Facts aid in the development of a sound hypothesis, and then provide the evidence needed to support or refute it. Facts compensate for the lack of instinct a consultant must face since he or she does not have a lifetime of experience in the industry on which to draw. Facts also bridge the credibility gap, lending respect to the analysis of newcomers. Hiding from the facts is only a recipe for failure, because sooner or later, the truth will show itself. Thus, a successful consultant will find the facts and use them to his or her advantage. MECE One of the most fundamental tenants of McKinsey problem solving is the concept of MECE, mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive. MECE can be used when developing and listing issues related to the problem at hand. First, the associate must ensure that the list is mutually exclusive, or that every item is separate and distinct. Then, she must check that it is collectively exhaustive, that it includes every issue relevant to the problem. This approach prevents overlap and confusion. A "major issues list" should contain no less than two, and no more than five issues, with three being the ideal number. The consultant must make a concerted effort to fit each business problem faced by the company or non-profit under one of the 2- 5 issues on the major issues list. If this fails, there is always the option of creating a category of "other issues", although this is most effective when utilized as a sub-heading for presentation purposes. Solve the Problem at the First Meeting- The Initial Hypothesis The 3rd pillar of the McKinsey problem-solving process is the initial hypothesis (IH). The initial hypothesis serves as a roadmap toward the solution. It is the solution that seems most probable early in the engagement, after the group has brainstormed using their knowledge of the situation, but before they have spent a lot of time gathering additional information and analyzing. The initial hypothesis may or may not prove correct, but it will provide a starting point from which to work and it will guide the research and early data analysis. When generating the IH, the group should begin with the facts. This does not mean that the team must understand every facet of the industry at this point. Rather, members can take a couple of hours with a trade journal or expert in the field and develop a general overview of the industry. Once members have a basic understanding of the facts, they must apply structure to them. This is done first by breaking the problem down into components, or key drivers. Then, they make an
actionable recommendation on each component. These recommendations are taken and broken down still further. The team then lists the issues that each recommendation raises. Now they must consider possible answers to these issues. Then, they contemplate what sort of analysis under each issue will be needed to prove or refute the hypothesis. This exercise should give the team a better idea of what is and is not provable, and clarify their approach. The end result of this exercise will be what McKinsey calls an issue tree. This tree is a map of the solution with the hypothesis branching out into each issue and recommendation. This model will serve as the problem-solving map. Once the IH has been developed, either individually or as a team, it will be necessary to test it. When generating and testing an initial hypothesis, it is best to work in small teams. Working in a team will provide a wealth of ideas with which to work, and constructive criticism will help point out the shortcomings of ideas that their creators often have difficulty seeing themselves. Chapter 2: Developing an Approach The problem is not always the problem The client's own diagnosis of the problem may not in fact be correct. So, before setting about devising a solution, a consultant has to dig deeper by asking questions, getting facts, and poking around to ensure that he is heading down the right path. If an associate feels that he is not working on the correct problem, he has the option to go back to the client. He should let the client know that while he was asked to focus on problem x, he feels that the real impact will come from solving problem y. The consultant should be able to back up this recommendation with facts. The client may or may not accept the recommendation, but either way he has fulfilled his obligation. Don't reinvent the wheel Most business problems are more similar than different. This means that a large number of questions can be answered through use of a small number of problem-solving techniques. McKinsey has standardized a number of these techniques, and they have proved invaluable because consultants are able to quickly place the facts and data into a standard framework, and thus to gain added insight into the problem. This allows the consultants to focus on the drivers of the problem and move toward a solution. One technique, which has proved especially valuable, is the Forces at Work model. In this model, the consultants identify current suppliers, customers, competitors, and possible substitute products. Then, they list all changes occurring in each category and the effect, positive or negative, that they may have on the client. They also list any internal changes effecting the client or industry and determine which of these changes could force adjustment to the client's operations. This tool allows the consultants to develop an understanding of the competitive market their client faces, as well as how this environment might change. Consultants need to remember that every client is unique, and thus that there are no cookiecutter solutions. Similar problems do not necessarily have similar solutions. Although the tools used for a problem may be the same, they must be applied to every unique situation. It is a mistake for consultants to generalize solutions. Rather, they need to test their hypothesis with facts and analysis in order to determine that the solution they have chosen is the correct one for the situation at hand. Don't make the facts fit your solution No matter how inspired the team or individual finds its initial hypothesis to be, it must be prepared to adjust that hypothesis if the facts do not support it. The facts are static, so it is the solution which must be flexible and dynamic in order to solve the problem. Make sure your solution fits your client.
It is a consultant's job to recognize the unique strengths, weaknesses and limitations of his/her client. In some cases, the best hypothetical solution may be one that the client is unable to implement for any number of reasons. In this case, the Firm has not succeeded in solving the problem for the client, even if on paper, their proposed solution was theoretically the best. Therefore, the consultant must take into account the client's unique situation and ability or lack of ability to implement any proposed solution. Sometimes, there are a number of good ideas that would improve the client's business, but there is only a finite amount of resources with which to implement these solutions. In this case, the consultant must focus on the solutions which will bring the maximum benefit from these finite resources. Sometimes you have to let the solution come to you. There will be situations in which an initial hypothesis is impossible to formulate. This could occur if the scope of the problem is large and vague, if the client has no idea what the problem is, or if the team is breaking new ground. Although this is not an ideal situation, over time business problems become conquerable with the combination of fact-based analysis and creative thinking. Some problems you just can't solve… solve them anyway No matter how good a consultant's intentions are, sometimes the group will come up against a wall. This could come in the form of bad or missing data, a business doomed to failure by the time the Firm is called in, or hostile politics within the client organization. When facing an obstacle to the solution, there are several options from which to choose. First, the consultant could redefine the problem. They could tell the client that the problem is not X, but rather Y. This will be especially useful if solving problem Y will generate much value, while X will cost time and resources for only a small gain. This choice is especially effective early in the consultation. Use of it later in the process can be seen as a copout. A second option is to tweak the way to a solution. If your ideal solution is impossible to implement at the present time, lengthen the time line, and "tweak" toward the solution as hostile factors subside. Finally, the consultants could choose to work through the politics. They may recognize that their solution will change the organization, and that this change will not be popular with all groups. They must take into account the different factors driving the politics, and attempt to build a consensus for the solution with these in mind. This may mean that the solution must be changed in order to gain acceptability. If this is the case, then they should change it. No good will be brought to the company unless it is able to accept what the Firm offers. Chapter 3: 80/20 and Other Rules to Live By 80/20 The 80/20 is a pattern that emerges is management consulting. For example, 80% of sales come from 20% of the sales force. 80% of revenues come from 20% of products. Once the team has the data, they can input it into a spreadsheet or database and analyze it. The consultants watch for patterns such as the 80/20 rule. In some cases, these patterns will highlight problem areas, in others, areas of opportunity. Don't Boil the Ocean Before the consultants begin to gather and analyze data, they need to recognize the priorities of their search, and focus on them. They have a limited amount of time and resources to put into the analysis, so it is imperative to concentrate on only the most relevant information. In other words, work smarter, not harder. Find the Key Drivers In order to make the most of the analysis, McKinseyites focus only on the very key issues at the core of the problem. It is here that the fact-based analysis will offer the greatest return. The Elevator Test In order to sell the solution to busy customers and executives, the consultant must be able to explain it in 30 seconds, the time it takes an elevator to reach the lobby. In order to do this, she
will focus on the most important recommendations, no more than three, and their respective payoffs. She will have to save the supporting data for later in order to accomplish this task. Pluck the Low-Hanging Fruit Sometimes during the long problem-solving process, there arises an opportunity for an easy win. McKinsey consultants are taught to take these opportunities. There is no reason to save or hold their information for a final presentation. It is a much better strategy to show the client that the client's success is their top priority by making small changes along the way. Small victories boost morale for the team, add credibility to the exercise, please the client, and may help win over dissenters. But, as the Firm takes these small victories, they must also ensure the client that they have not lost sight of the greater solution. Make a Chart Every Day A consultant should learn something new every day. The best way to deal with this new knowledge is to write it down. At the end of each day, the associate should make a chart or bulleted list of the three most important things she learned. When it is time for analysis, she can go back to these charts and contemplate how they can fit into her solution. Hit Singles In the business world, it is better to consistently hit singles, i.e. perform the job to expectations, than to sporadically hit home runs. There are three reasons for this. First, it is impossible to do everything alone all the time. The other members of the team should be capable and motivated. Thus, the team should trust each member to do his or her own job. Secondly, if an associate is able to hit the business homerun once, it raises expectations for himself and those around him, expectations he may not be able to realize on a consistent basis. Finally, once an associate fails to meet expectations, it is very difficult to regain credibility. So, a wise consultant will concentrate on doing his job and doing it well. Look at the Big Picture When the team is bogged down in analysis, benefits can be wrought by taking a step back and looking at the "big picture". Associates can go back to their initial hypothesis and key drivers. They can asses how what they are doing relates to these priorities. If their current efforts will not lead you to a solution, they need to stop what they are doing and find a path that will. Just Say "I Don't Know" Professional integrity should be a hallmark of a management consultant. Part of this integrity is honesty, with the client, the team, and within the individual. Sometimes a consultant will simply not know the answer to something. In this case, the consultant should be honest and admit that they do not know. People will understand, and the admission will be much less costly than a bluff. Don't Accept "I have no idea" When a McKinseyite asks someone a question about their business and they reply, "I have no idea", they take this as a challenge. With a few well-directed questions, a good consultant can usually uncover the information she needs, or at least an educated guess. McKinsey consultants do not accept "I have no idea" from others, they do not accept it from themselves, and don't expect others to accept it from them. Part II: The McKinsey Way of Working to Solve Business Problems Part II illustrates the manner in which the Firm implements its solutions on a day-to-day basis. From selling to organizing to brainstorming, this section takes the reader through the experience of participating in a McKinsey study. Chapter 4: Selling a Study How to Sell without Selling
McKinsey does not "sell". It does not make cold calls, advertise in trade journals or knock on doors. Rather, it waits for customers to come to the Firm. Why do they come? Because although McKinsey does not sell, it does market. The Firm markets to potential clients in a number of ways. First, the Firm produces a steady stream of influential and widely read books and articles. Furthermore, it publishes its own scholarly journal, which is distributed free to clients and former consultants. McKinsey invites media coverage, and its partners and directors are often nationally and internationally known experts. McKinsey also encourages members of the Firm to participate in informal forums such as non-profit boards of directors in order to make client contacts. Consultants make presentations and speak at industry conferences. They also make follow-up visits to former clients, both to gauge the effects of McKinsey work, and to keep the firm in the client's mind should any further work arise. Not everyone will have access to the most exclusive events and clients, but through trade shows, conferences, even the right restaurants and bars, anyone can make these connections. Consultants should keep in close contact with current and former clients. Also, there is an advantage to meeting competitors. One day they could switch jobs and become a potential client. A consultant should seek prominence and establish a strong reputation in order to ensure that his will be the name the customers think of the next time they have a problem. Be Careful What you Promise: Structuring an Engagement When structuring a project, it is essential that the Firm does not bite off more than it can chew. It has to strike a balance between what the client wants and what the team can realistically do. The ideal project is one, which can be completed in three to six months with tangible results for the client. The saaviest coordinators will tell the client that they will accomplish x and y. He will then explain that they could do Z, but it would kill the team. At the same time, he would tell the team that they promised the client Z, and must get it done. Of course, in order to do this, Z must be within the limits of the team, while challenging them to their maximum output. Chapter 5: Assembling a Team Getting the Right Mix Team selection is a critical component of any job, and team members must be chosen carefully from the pool of resources available. Intelligence, experience and skills are the factors of greatest importance. The team is best constructed with knowledge of the particular problem, and the skills, which will be most necessary in order to solve it. If the leader does not know potential team members personally, she would be wise to interview them before making a decision. This allows her to determine whether others evaluations of the person were correct, and lets her gauge how the personality will fit in with the rest of the team. The team will be spending a large amount of time together, and its performance will reflect on the leader, so must choose wisely. A Little Team Bonding Goes a Long Way At McKinsey, team bonding activities like dinners, ball games and movies are expected, but very little of this formal bonding is needed to solidify the team. The team will be working together for long hours, eating lunch together, and travelling together to out of town engagements. What is important is that the team works well together, that members know that their ideas are respected, and that they feel that there is respect for their time and lives outside of the Firm. If team bonding activities are necessary, an attempt should be made to limit them to lunch engagements, and if this is not possible, significant others should be included in plans. Take Your Team's Temperature to Maintain Morale Maintaining the team's morale is the on-going responsibility of the team leader. He has to talk to his teammates, and if they are unhappy, he must take remedial action immediately. Second, he needs to steer a steady course. He must keep in line with his priorities, and if a change needs to be made, explain his reasoning to the team so that they can understand what is going on. The leader needs to let the team know why they are doing what they are doing, so that they are able to see value in their work. Teammates should be treated with respect and the leader should make an effort to get to know them as people. Finally, when things become difficult, the leader has to be
able to let them know that he sympathizes with them, even if there is little else he can do to remedy the situation. Chapter 6: Managing Hierarchy Make your boss look good The best way to make the boss (and strategic partners outside of the organization) happy is to make him/her look good. This is accomplished by a consultant doing her job to the best of her ability, and by making sure that the boss knows everything that she knows when she needs to know it. By making the boss look good, the associate not only makes him/her happy, but she also makes herself look good in the process. An Aggressive Strategy for Managing Hierarchy: An associate should assert his equality in the organization until someone tells him not to. He should assume that he has the authority to ask questions, make comments, etc. In more rigidly hierarchical organizations, however, the associate must tread carefully and be prepared to back down at any sign of displeasure with his tactics. Chapter 7: Doing Research Don't Reinvent the Wheel (Part II) Very few business problems are unique, which means that someone has probably dealt with them before. The people who worked on these problems, and the research their work generated can be invaluable, and timesaving resources. The team can use colleagues, data, files, training manuals, trade magazines, newspapers, the library, the Internet, competitors, and any other sources that might provide a head start. Specific Research Tips When doing research, the company or non-profit's annual report is always a good place to begin. The researcher should look for outliers. Outliers are things which are especially good or bad. In order to identify them, the researcher can input the data into a spreadsheet, and then use the outliers as areas for research. The researcher should be looking for best practice. His goal should be to find out who the best performers in the industry are and imitate them. He can talk to other people in the industry to uncover their secrets. Sometimes best practice will be within the researchers own company in a certain division or area. In this case, he must determine how to implement their strategies on an organization-wide level. Chapter 8: Conducting Interviews Be prepared: Write an Interview /Meeting Guide: Having a guide for an interview or meeting prepared before it begins will ensure the best possible use of the consultant's time, and of that of the interviewee. When constructing the guide, the interviewer should first think of which questions she needs answers to. Then, she should consider what the main insight that she is really trying to get out of the interview is. This second point will help to focus the questions and order them. Before entering into the interview, the consultant should research her interviewee. She will be well better prepared if she knows their personality and can structure the interview/ meeting accordingly. The interview/meeting can begin with "warm up" questions about the industry in general. A good trick is to ask a question or two to which the interviewer thinks that she already knows the answer. Answers to these questions serve two purposes. First, they allow the interviewer to gauge the knowledge and honesty of the interviewee. Second, she might be provided with an answer that will give her a different perspective, or an additional answer to a complex problem that she had not considered. Before closing the interview, the interviewer should ask the person she is interviewing if there is anything else they would like to tell her, or if there is anything she forgot to ask. Sometimes, this will yield very useful information. When Conducting Interviews, and Meetings in General, Listen and Guide:
When interviewing, the consultant needs to ask questions to guide the conversation, but should allow the interviewee to do the talking. She needs to make it clear that she is listening and interested in what the person is saying by using verbal placeholders such as "yes" and "I see". Also, she should use positive body language such as leaning slightly forward when the person is speaking. If the interviewer wants the person to say more than they have, she can simply say nothing. Most people will start talking to fill the uncomfortable gap of silence. Seven Tips for Successful Interviewing: Have the interviewee's boss set up the meeting. Interview in pairs Ask open-ended questions and talk as little as possible. Paraphrase what has been said and repeat it back to the interviewee to ensure that they are understand correctly. Be sensitive to the interviewee's feelings. Don't ask for too much or press too hard. Use the Colombo tactic- After the interview has ended and everyone has become more relaxed, say "There's one more thing I forgot to ask". Difficult Interviews Eventually, every member of the Firm will run into a difficult interview. This could be a hostile interviewee, one who refuses to give information, or the "sandbagger", the interviewee who will talk all the interviewer wants, but won't divulge information. There are a variety of techniques that can be used. First, if the consultant has the backing of the top management at the company, he can challenge the subject and not back down. Secondly, the consultant can "pull rank" and threaten to alert the boss to the subject's lack of cooperation. Finally, the team could look for another person in the organization who can give them the same information, and if there is no one else, they may need to ask the subject's boss to have a word with him or her. Always write a thank-you note: After taking time from someone's day for an interview, it is appropriate to write the person a polite and professional thank-you note. Chapter 9: Brainstorming Proper Prior Preparation An associate cannot enter the brainstorming session without advance planning. First, he needs to consolidate his research into a 'fact pack', a neatly organized summary of key data, and distribute it to the team. By having every member of the team read every fact pack, each member should enter the session with a roughly equal base of knowledge. The team leader should have an initial hypothesis ready before entering the meeting. Other members may want to derive a set of hypotheses that the group will probably derive so that they can quickly dismiss impractical hypothesis and devote more attention to plausible ones. In a White Room The brainstorming session should begin with no preconceptions on the part of the team members. Even though they have prepared for the session, they must be open to new ideas. Also, everyone should participate in the session , regardless of standing in the hierarchy. Here are some additional Rules of the Road: There are no bad ideas There are no dumb questions
Be prepared to kill your own ideas. If your hypothesis is not part of the team's solution at the end of the session, let it go. Know when to say when. As time wears on, people get tired, cranky, and the returns of brainstorming diminish. Try to keep sessions to 2 hours if possible, and if not, take breaks or continue the next day. Get it down on paper. Don't leave the session without a permanent record of the final outcome. Brainstorming Exercises: The Post-It Exercise- The leader passes out post-it notes and has the team write down all relevant ideas and pass them to the leader who reads them out loud. The flipchart Exercise- A number of flip charts are stationed around the room marked by category or issue. Each member is issued a different colored marker and writes his or her relevant ideas on each chart. Bellyaches up front- The session is held in a large room with all relevant players. First, members are asked to state everything that they didn't like about the program first. Then are asked for positive evaluations. Part III: The McKinsey Way of Selling Solutions Once the solution has been analyzed and structured, McKinsey has to convince the client to support it. Without this crucial recognition, the solution is worth nothing. In this stage, internal communication and presentation are key to success. Be Structured: The team must take the organizational analysis that they used in their analysis and apply it to the presentation. The presentation should be clear and guide the audience through the team's thinking in clear, logical steps. Remember that there are diminishing marginal returns to effort: At some point, the team has to draw the line and resist temptations to make further changes to the presentation. One good way to let go is to insist that the documents be copied, bound, etc. 24 hours prior to the presentation. Members must accept that large documents will have a small number of insignificant typos, and let go. Then the team can spend the last day before the presentation rehearsing, anticipating questions, and resting. Time spent in this fashion will yield a much higher return than that spent compulsively checking for minor errors. Prewire Everything: There should be no surprises on the day of the presentation. All of the major players should be taken through the solution in private. This way, necessary negotiation, compromise, and new facts that are integral to the acceptance of the proposal will be integrated by the time of the presentation. Prewiring removes much of the risk from the presentation and allows the team to shine. Chapter 11: Displaying Data With Charts: Keep it simple- One message per chart: Charts and graphs are an invaluable tool with which to communicate information to the client. When using charts and graphs, the key is to keep it simple. Too much information will overwhelm the audience, and the information the team is attempting to o highlight will be lost. Each chart should attempt to convey only one message. Also, fancy computer graphics and extensive use of color can actually detract from the original purpose of the chart. The creator should pick the point that the presenter wishes to make with the chart, and insert it into a one sentence "lead" in the caption at the top of the chart. It is also important to be certain to the source in a caption at the
bottom. Finally, the presentation should use the minimum amount of charts necessary to communicate the information. Too many will bore the audience. Use a Waterfall Chart: Seldom seen outside of McKinsey, the waterfall chart is an effective way show how to get from A to B. The chart is like a bar graph, and always begins on the left with a column that begins at zero. Then, moving to the right, positive items extend upward, beginning at the highest point of the last column, and negative values extend downward in the same fashion. Chapter 12: Managing Internal Communications Keep the information flowing: Information flow is essential for successful teams. A leader has to make sure that both the team members and their boss are up to date at all times. One way to facilitate information flow is regular meetings. Meetings should be regularly scheduled, administered by a competent and respectful leader, and should adhere to a short and briskly executed agenda. Another method of internal communication is learning by walking around. Chance encounters at the water cooler, in the corridor, on the way to lunch, etc, can be surprisingly insightful. Three keys to an effective message: E-mails, voice mails, and memos should be treated as mini presentations. They should be brief, covering only the information the recipient needs to know, thorough, covering all of the information that the recipient needs, and structured in a form that will effectively convey that information. Always look over your shoulder: A consultant should ask him or herself these questions to determine whether there is need for confidentiality with respect to the business problem: What would happen if he were sitting on an airplane and one of the competitors saw what he was working on? What about someone from his company who was working on a different project saw? What about his boss? If there is a need for confidentiality in the work, then it is the consultant's duty to take precautions. He should lock papers in his desk and file cabinet before you leaving for the night. Consultants should not tell their significant other unless they are certain they are not a security risk. They should not take anything a competitor or journalist might find interesting out in public. Finally, they must be careful with faxes, e-mails and voice mails. They can easily end up in the wrong hands. Chapter 13: Working with Clients Keep the Client Team on your side: When working with a client team, the consultants can first get the clients on their side by making the Firm's goals and their goals synonymous. The Firm can make the experience a positive one for them by reminding the team that they will gain new skills and the opportunity to effect real change in their organization. Also, in the instance of client teams, team bonding may be more appropriate. The consulting team and client teams are not bound by the same experience, and bonding can help both sides to understand each other better. How to deal with "liability" client team members: There are two types of "liability" team members: the useless and the hostile. The useless is someone who either refuses to participate, or is too incompetent to be of any use. The best remedy for the useless is to trade him off the team for someone better, but if this is not possible, the team may give him a small and noncritical area of the work that someone else on the team has the expertise to do if necessary. The other case is that of the saboteur. The saboteur is usually backed by a faction of the company hostile to the Firm's consulting work. Once again, the best strategy is to try to trade this hostile force off of the team. Otherwise, the team should make use of his talents where it can, and keep sensitive information out of his hands. The consulting team must try to understand his agenda, and thus that of his supporters. This may be useful
information when forming the solution. Sometimes "liability" members can be brought around. If not, the team has to make the best of the situation and do its job. Engage the client in the process: In order to gain the client's support, it must be engaged in the process. Engagement can be defined as supporting consulting efforts, providing resources as needed, and caring about the outcome. The Firm needs to understand the client's interests, and to make them see how the Firm's efforts will benefit them. The team should keep the client updated on its progress, and make use of the "easy victories" discussed earlier in the book. Team members must accept that the client team may take credit for its work in the end, but this is a small price to pay for support and implementation of the solution. Get Buy-in throughout the organization: Once the Firm has its proposal to the CEO and board of directors, it is imperative that the consultants gain support for the solution throughout all levels of the client organization. Presentations should be tailored to each level. Presenter should show respect to each audience, whether it be the upper management team or the production line. It is also important to make sure that each audience understands how they fit into the larger picture of the solution. Gaining support on all levels will promote the success of the solution. Be Rigorous about Implementation: Before the team begins the implementation process, it must develop a detailed plan. The plan should be specific in regard to what needs to happen, when it will happen, and who will be responsible for it. The consultants should choose reliable people with the skills to carry out each task, and enforce deadlines. If the consultants are not going to be personally in charge of the implementation process as a whole, they have to choose someone who not only has the skills to carry out the operation, but the attitude needed to enforce compliance. Part IV: Surviving at McKinsey Success in any high-pressure organization required a certain number of survival skills. In this section, Rasiel shares tricks to maintaining sanity while working crazy hours under high stress. He also sheds light on the McKinsey recruiting process which provides the Firm with a steady stream of bright new survivors. Chapter 14: Find your own Mentor In making one's way through the jungle which is the business world, it will help to have a guide. Junior associates should seek out a person who is senior to them in their organization and whose work and opinions they respect. They should be able to go to this person for advice and to provide an example. If possible, an associate should work with his or her mentor, and learn all that he/she has to offer. Chapter 15: Surviving on the Road Many consulting jobs will require long days, weeks and even months of rigorous travel. Since these business trips are a part of the job, there is no recourse but to make the best of it. The following advice will help to ease time spent on the road: Maintain a positive attitude. Look at the trip as an adventure, and occasionally, act like a tourist and enjoy the unique aspects of the destination. Plan properly: Try to schedule trips so that you will be home on a Friday or Monday. Learn what you need and pack light. Prepare with information that will make your trip less stressful such as directions, reliable cab companies, etc. Find ways to entertain yourself after work. Call old friends or colleagues. Go out socially with client team members. At the very least, watch TV or read a book unrelated to work before bed.
Finally, treat everyone with respect. It will keep your own stress level down and you will reap unexpected benefits. Chapter 16: Take these three things with you wherever you go Before embarking on a business trip, a business traveler should be certain that she has all the necessities. These include PTM (passport, tickets, and money), as well as an itinerary, names and numbers of everyone she is going to see, and a good book. She should also pay special attention to clothing, business tools, personal care items, things to keep organized and in touch, and diversions. Chapter 17: A good assistant is a lifeline In order to attract the best secretaries available, McKinsey offers them a real career path with chances to move higher up in the secretarial hierarchy, as well as into administrative management. Secretaries are vitally important not only in order to perform traditional tasks such as filing and typing, but also to serve as a lifeline to busy consultants who may spend long periods of time at the office or out of time. McKinsey secretaries take care of personal needs for consultants, such as paying bills when they are away from home, as well as business needs. Since the secretary serves as a lifeline, it is necessary to treat him/her well. This goes beyond a Christmas gift and flowers on secretary's day, however. A respectful consultant should provide the secretary with all the information they need to do their jobs. This includes notice of where the consultant is at all time, and what they expect. Also, if the secretary is capable, it is important to allow some initiative for him/her to make decisions on his/her own. Even if a consultant does not have a full-time secretary, the same rules of respect and consideration apply. A good relationship with the temp, part-time assistant, or junior team member who performs these task will benefit both parties. Chapter 18: Recruiting McKinsey-Style: How to do it In order to recruit the best possible associates for the Firm, McKinsey draws from the top of the most elite business, law, and economics schools. It also seeks to recruit nontraditional candidates such as doctors, scientists, and politicians. In order to acquire the best candidates, McKinsey devotes a number of its top people, and a great deal of money, to this task. Once the best people have been scouted, McKinsey resorts to the interview in order to choose the McKinsey team. The most valuable attribute is an analytical thinker, one who can take a problem apart and break it into its components. In order to judge this ability, McKinsey uses cases. In solving these cases, the candidate is judged on how well he or she breaks the case into pieces, asks relevant questions, and makes prudent assumptions when necessary. Beyond mere intelligence and analytical power, McKinsey recruiters also look for personality. The candidate must be a team player, and their personality must fit the Firm. So, the key to an offer of employment at McKinsey is simple: The person must be of above-average intelligence with top grades from a good college and elite business school. They need to have a record of substantial achievement at previous employers, a bright analytical mind, and a personality that fits well with the firm. Chapter 19: If you want a life, lay down some Rules When working 80 - 100 hours per week, the only chance an associate has to have any sort of life outside of work is to lay down some ground rules. First, they should make one day a week offlimits, usually Saturday or Sunday. They should let their boss, spouse, children and co-workers know that they will be unavailable for work on this day, except for absolute emergencies. Most of the time this rule will be respected. Second, it is a mistake to take work home. Even if it means staying later at the office, it is a good idea to make home a haven without work.
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