Business Book Review: The McKinsey Way

Today, we continue our series of book reviews with a look at The McKinsey Way, a book written by a former Associate at McKinsey, Ethan M. Rasiel, who is also the co-author of The McKinsey Mind.



Why Read The Book? 

The McKinsey Way is a light and enjoyable read for those who want a brief overview of what management consulting is, for those who would love a better picture of what it’s like to work at McKinsey & Company, and for those who want to understand some principles about the way McKinsey does business.

Although the book is fun and well structured, the book skims the surface on a wide variety of topics and doesn’t go into great detail. Because of that, a number of reviewers on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble have given this book a lower (avg. 3 star) rating than most of the other books we review. Does The McKinsey Way deserve that lower rating? That’s up to you to decide, but we don’t think so.

Quick Overview Of McKinsey Way

On page 122, the Ethan M. Rasiel shares how an effective message is brief, thorough, and structured. Ethan Rasiel practices what he preaches as this book is less than 200 pages, covers a broad range of topics relevant to consulting, and is well-structured.

The McKinsey Way is divided into 5 parts:

  1. The McKinsey way of thinking about business problems. In this part of the book, the author shares how McKinsey (and management consulting in general) solutions are fact based, rigidly structured, and hypothesis driven. Ethan Rasiel then continues to give an overview on how to develop an approach for each unique business problem. He ends this section by sharing some basic business rules like the 80/20 rule, finding the key drivers, and so on.
  2. The McKinsey way of working to solve business problems. Here Ethan talks about McKinsey’s approach to selling a study – to sell without selling – and then goes on to describe the basics of assembling a team, managing hierarchy, conducting research, conducting interviews, and brainstorming.
  3. The McKinsey way of selling solutions. Consultants recognize that even if they had the best solution in the world, they wouldn’t make an impact unless they could successfully sell the solution to the client. Rasiel gives advice on making presentations, working with clients, and getting buy-in from all necessary parts of an organization in this section.
  4. Surviving at McKinsey. Consultants work long hours, travel a lot (especially at McKinsey due to their global staffing model), and put up with significant pressure to deliver in their jobs. In this section Ethan Rasiel shares insights on how to survive (and possibly thrive) at McKinsey and he gives a couple snippets about McKinsey’s recruiting style.
  5. Life after McKinsey. As Ethan states in Page 168 of this book, “Leaving McKinsey is never a question of whether—it’s a question of when”. In this brief section, the author shares significant lessons and memories from working at McKinsey.

Insights From The Book 

  1. Structure, structure, structure. The word “structure” is mentioned over 45 times in 187 pages of this book. Ethan shares the importance of structure in this book. Learning how to structure life, problem-solving processes, solutions, emails, and so on is one of the first and most things an associate will learn at McKinsey (and most consulting firms for that matter).
  2. Keeping it simple / hit home runs. “It’s much better to get to first base consistently than to try to hit a home run—and strike out 9 times out of 10.” When working at a prestigious firm like McKinsey, it very tempting to try and come up with solutions that will “hit the ball out of the park”. There are several reasons that hitting single runs are more advantageous, though, one of them being that if you manage to hit the ball out of the park once through “superhuman effort”, you will be expected to do the same every time you step up to bat.
  3. Someone needs to step up to the plate. Implementation is tough and requires a great deal of work. After delivering the solution, it’s vitally important to put specific people (within the organization receiving the consulting services) in charge of implementing the solutions. If there isn’t a person responsible for the changes required, chances are the changes will not be implemented efficiently, if they are implemented at all.

Overall Summary/Conclusion

The McKinsey Way is a book that you either like or dislike.

You will probably like this book if you fall into one of these categories:

  • You are looking for a fun, easy read that will teach you more about management consulting in general.
  • You don’t know much about McKinsey & Company and you are eager to learn more.
  • You want an overview of how McKinsey approaches business problems so that you could potentially apply their methods to your own business.

You probably won’t like this book if you fall into one of these categories:

  • You are intimately familiar with McKinsey and management consulting in general and will consider it a waste of time to relearn a subject you are already familiar with.
  • You are hoping that by reading this, you will learn how to break into McKinsey and master their case interviews. This book won’t help you prepare for interviews but we’d still recommend you read (or at least skim through) it if you apply to work at McKinsey.
  • You are looking for an intellectually stimulating and exhaustive book on strategy and consulting ideologies. The Lords of Strategy would be a better book for that.

Want to read The McKinsey Mind? You can pick up your copy here!

More Interesting Reads From MC

Business Book Review: The Lords of Strategy

An In-Depth Look at McKinsey (Firm Profile)


Thank you for joining us today. If you’ve read a book related to consulting or business in general and want to submit a review that will be featured on our website, write a document following the same format, target 600+ words, and send it over by email!

Filed Under: business consulting