Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: McKinsey's Marvin Bower: Vision, Leadership, and the Creation of Management Consulting
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on April 29, 2004
Having spent the past 20 years in consulting, I've read alot of business books and always buy a new book with the expressed purpose of learning something new. McKinsey's Marvin Bower did not disappoint. Although I bought it to read about Marvin Bower, the myth, I learned much more about Marvin Bower the man and his impact on principles I had been practicing throughout my career, and without knowing why. This book provides the fundamental lessons on how to do it right -- from creating values that guide an organization to placing customer and client interests first. To me, McKinsey was a side bar, the real story is about Marvin Bower and his impact on 20th century business. As such, it's a must read for everyone and anyone interested in "getting it right" regardless of their profession.
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on April 10, 2004
This is a truly outstanding book. It is very well-written and thoroughly presents the principles and experiences that made Marvin Bower one of the giants of management consulting. Even with 30 years experience in management consulting, I learned a great deal about client relationships and other aspects of consulting. Marvin Bower was truly a remarkable leader. For skills and ethics in management consulting, he rates at the top.
The only negative about the book is that it's not balanced. No one is perfect- not even Mr. Bower or McKinsey- as the author might have you believe. And I don't think Mr. Bower was quite the non-autocratic and non-hierarchical leader as the author and others have asserted. Firing a partner because he was doing work for one client that didn't deal with "major problems;" firing an associate and ordering him to leave the firm and building in 30 minutes for a lapse in judgement (albeit a significant one); and putting the fear of God in associates if they were seen having a social rather than a business lunch or if they wore argyle socks sounds pretty autocratic to me. Even if he encouraged dissent in staff discussions.
Also, I don't agree that Mr. Bower was the founder of professional management consulting. I believe Ed Booz of Booz, Allen and Hamilton was. Of course, as a former Booz Allen partner, I may be biased.
Notwithstanding the above criticisms, this is one of the best books I've ever read.
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on April 12, 2004
A compelling portrait of a leader who seemed to find just the right combination for success - creating value for clients, unwavering integrity, leading from the front, selflessness in the interest of the business' sustainability, consistency of vision and personal actions and continuous communication with and interest in his people. Bower's vision, values and approach shaped a generation of successful leaders.
This book leaves you thinking about how you can be a better leader and wishing that you'd been fortunate enough to work for Marvin Bower. In an age of corporate scandals, it's refreshing and inspiring to read about a greatly successful leader with true integrity and how that integrity was an integral part of his success.
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on January 21, 2016
It is a great book for those who want to get an introduction on what it is McKinsey & Co. The book describe Marvin Bower's work throughout his life to build the greatest consulting firm in the world. The values, ethics and way of thinking for a firm that was thought to last for ever as a leader in the world. Great book.
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Marvin Bower may be the most influential businessman you've never heard of. The firm he shaped into an international powerhouse, McKinsey & Company, doesn't bear his name, and he never made splashy public gifts. Yet the company that spawned the management consulting industry would not exist today without this remarkable man's clear, compelling vision. Bower or his consultants transformed countless companies and executives for the better. Here, author Elizabeth Haas Edersheim assembles dozens of testimonials to Marvin Bower's integrity, honesty and drive to excel. Her book contains the story of his life, but it reads less like a biography and more like a Harvard Business School case study - a bit dry, and chock-full of interview transcripts rather than compelling narrative. However, its similarity to a case study is oddly appropriate, since Bower was one of the first graduates of the Harvard Business School and remained connected with it for many years, even defending its case study method of teaching when it came under attack in the late 1970s. We recommend this book to leaders, to those who aspire to lead and to consultants who want to study the best of their profession in action.
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on August 8, 2015
Marvin Bower. Having not worked in strategy consulting but preparing for interviews; this book was perfect. While many people feel that the big 3 have strayed from the values here in this book; I hope not. This is an extraordinary biography about a man who helped shape the modern business environment.
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on September 17, 2012
Great book on a super businessman and leader. Great stories, examples and most of all truly inspiring.I found his dedication, involvement, service and true compassion for those around him whether at work or home to be a major insight.
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on December 23, 2013
This is a mediocre book that reveals little about Marvin Bower and less about McKinsey. It’s an unashamed hagiography of Bower, assiduously failing to deal objectively with the subject. Despite its title, it reveals nothing about the "creation of management consulting", which preceded McKinsey and Bower.

Edersheim pads out the book with irrelevant stories of ex-McKinseyites who have done well and adopted Bower’s principles, but there is no suggestion that they used McKinsey at their company, only that the CEO respected Bower. Descriptions of case studies often deal with irrelevant parts of the case, e.g. a page-long description of a client’s oil site in Saudi Arabia that has nothing to do with the engagement. A third of the book is taken up by an index, notes, timeline, memo from Bower and author’s notes.

You would be much better off inveigling someone to get you a copy of Perspective on McKinsey to learn about the Firm or Bower’s thinking, or to buy The McKinsey Way to learn about the methodologies.
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on May 1, 2012
This book is so much more than a simple biography. It explains the origin, aspirations, and workings of a leading professional firm and industry that now, 80 years later, has become truly global and developed into a successful multi-billion industry. Forget about today's many commercially run second and third rate consulting firms and any so-called "consulting scandals" of the last decade - Marvin Bower was the real deal. For him, consulting was a profession with the highest standards and integrity.

Why should you read the book? First, you will understand the fabric of McKinsey, the market leader. In order to do so, go right to Chapter 3 (The Profession and the Institution) - it tells you everything you need to know about what Bower had in mind when building The Firm. I use this chapter when giving guest lectures for MBA students on the topic of the consulting industry. Second, you will get inspired by a true visionary. In whatever business you are in, you can learn from Bower of how to think long-term, build and mold a new industry consistently and with success. A nice antidote to the many "get rich quick" schemes in today's Internet age.
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on March 9, 2014
This interesting book combines historical research with an institutional economics perspective to help explain the success of McKinsey as a consulting company. Worth a read for those interested in management consulting and how excellent professional services firms come into being and grow
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