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Good Field Guide, Other Parts of Trilogy Also Illuminate
on June 12, 2013
While this reviewer is initially commenting on "The McKinsey Engagement," he also looked at both "The McKinsey Mind" and "The McKinsey Way" as the books really do inform one another as a trilogy. As Rasiel comments in the first book, "3" is a "magic" number at McKinsey as most pronouncements there seem to come in threes (see page 3).
"The McKinsey Engagement" basically fills in and conveys the McKinsey problem solving method as it can be applied by a team. Its tenor is much more tactical than the other two books, an appropriate field guide for a business school or other group seeking to proceed and learn along this path. Apparently, for this reason, the author complements the core McKinsey material with other information to provide more detailed information on running a TEAM with a FOCUS on this method (acronyms for the main ideas in its two main emphases). So taken in this light the author succeeds in what he is trying to do. Although, one should also consult the other volumes depending on one's interest.
For instance, Friga's book deals with the various aspects of "The McKinsey Engagement" such as forming hypotheses, being MECE (i.e. mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive), constructing issue/decision trees, and collecting data as they are applied by a team. However, his work with Rasiel in "The McKinsey Mind" provides more of a rationale for the use of these elements and their background (e.g. the benefit of structure, the combination of intuition and data, gut instincts and experience, as part of fact-based decision making). Whereas, Rasiel's solo effort in "The McKinsey Way" discusses the manner in which the consulting firm operates and addresses client problems (as well as what it means for an individual in the organization). The reference to the culture and discipline as similar to the Jesuits, the reliance on charts (as described in more detail by Gene Zelazny elsewhere) and other tidbits conjure smiles in recognition.
One thing that drew this reviewer to the book initially was the mention of Barbara Minto, among the author's other mentors, accomplices, and friends. Minto developed and authored the "The Pyramid Principle: Logic in Writing and Thinking" which appears to be the first work that articulated the approach used in McKinsey. It is interesting to see the parallel's between the Friga and Rasiel books, Minto's, and the approaches used in major consulting firms such as McKinsey, PwC, and others (Elizabeth Haas Edersheim's book on Marvin Bower as well as Duff McDonald's "The Firm" are also illuminating - see my review on the latter).
So, if you want an applied methodology with examples try "The McKinsey Engagement;" if you want more description and depth consider the "The McKinsey Mind;" if you want to better understand the firm and its context seek out "The McKinsey Way." If you are after a comprehensive view, get into all three.