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McKinsey & Co., a worldwide management consulting firm, practices a system for the management of its processes and files across 69 offices nationwide. The firm's managing director, Rajat Gupta, is wondering whether he has implemented the proper approach to protect the company's system and processes.
Christopher A. Bartlett
Harvard Business Review (396357-PDF-ENG)
June 28, 1996
Case questions answered:
- How did McKinsey & Co., a Chicago professor’s firm of accounting and engineering advisors, grow to become the most competitive consulting company in the world?
- How effective was Ron Daniel in leading the transition to supplement the firm’s highly successful “client-relationship” consulting mode with a radically different “thought leadership” approach?
- What were the main contributions of Fred Gluck to McKinsey’s development of its competitive advantage? How effective was his initiative?
- What are your evaluations of Rajat Gupta’s management of the next stage of business in McKinsey? How appropriate is his four-pronged approach?
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Case answers for McKinsey & Co.: Managing Knowledge and Learning
1. How did McKinsey & Co., a Chicago professor’s firm of accounting and engineering advisors, grow to become the most competitive consulting company in the world?
McKinsey & Co., a Chicago professor’s firm of accounting and engineering advisors, grew to become the most competitive consulting company in a time frame of 50 years because of the strategies they used and the vision they had. It was not a single factor but a set of multiple minute factors that lead it to outperform its competitors, have extraordinary domestic growth, international expansion, and become one of the most competitive firms. The success could be attributed to some of the following factors.
- A mission of serving clients and a shared vision. People-oriented approach.
- Application of Management by Objective.
- They are adhering to high standards of integrity.
- They practiced a well-planned leadership as well as succession planning.
- There was a high involvement of top-level management.
- McKinsey & Co. has a high commitment to resources.
- Professional ethics and technical excellence. Training in an integrated approach.
- They were recommitting to the continuous development of members.
- They welcome transformation from a generalist perspective to having in-depth industry or functional specialty.
- Clients were treated as part of the company’s responsibilities and profit-sharing from the firm’s pool.
- There was substantial investment in knowledge development and developing knowledge infrastructure.
- KMS was developed to facilitate the sharing, integration, and utilization of knowledge.
- There was a successful implementation of knowledge management project, Firm Practice Information System, Practice development network, Knowledge Resource directory, and such other measures for facilitating the knowledge already within the company to be used at its fullest.
So, these factors worked favors in making McKinsey & Co. the best of its kind and gain a competitive advantage.
2. How effective was Ron Daniel in leading the transition to supplement the firm’s highly successful “client-relationship” consulting mode with a radically different “thought leadership” approach?
When Ron Daniel joined, Mc Kinsey was still struggling to meet challenges. The expectations of their sophisticated clients were rising, and they had to face aggressive challenges from competitors like BCG. BCG used thought leadership, experience curve, and growth-share matrix while Mc Kinsey succeeded in “client-relationship.”
Daniel realized that it was time to supplement McKinsey & Co.’s highly successful “client-relationship” consulting mode with a radically different “thought leadership.” I feel that Ron Daniel was…
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