Monday, September 22, 2014

Will McKinsey be around 50 years from now?

Lucy Kellaway, FT's management writer, suggests somewhat cheekly that the big daddy of strategic consulting may not be around 50 years from now. She comes to this conclusion after looking at a special issue of the McKinsey Quarterly meant to commemorate the journal's golden jubilee. The issue carries a piece of research that purports to look at broad trends that will shape the future:
The first is technology. Its growth will be exponential and there will be “turbocharging advances in connectivity”. Second, growth in emerging markets will continue and a lot more big cities will spring up in places we’ve hardly heard of. Finally, all over the world everyone is going to go on getting older.
If this is all that McKinsey can come up with, based on its research, Kellaway fears for its future:
Fifty years hence, McKinsey won’t exist. This is based on three trends similar to those the firm spotted. If economic activity moves to new cities in far-flung places, these are the very parts of the world where western strategy consultants tend not to flourish. The next trend is that as executives get smarter in dealing with this complex world, they will be more able to solve their own problems......

....Most important is the effect of technology. All the grunt stuff consultants do analysing markets can be done by anyone with an internet connection. The two things that people will always be better at than machines are motivating others and coming up with original ideas. Yet on neither score does the consultant look good. Strategy firms don’t do much in the way of motivation. And as for originality, if the best McKinsey can do after years of study is say that technology, globalisation and ageing will feature in the next 50 years – a robot could have come up with that in a jiffy.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting articles. Let me share my experience/opinion of working with this firm -

1. They are exorbitantly costly
2. They tend to give 60,000 feet high view - their recommendations are seldom actionable by itself & quite generic, hackneyed & banal
3. They're not grounded (I wanted to be straight in using direct word here but to put mildly I'm using indirect sentence)
4. They're extremely good in pitching, powerpoints, presentations, workshops
5. They're not pragmatic & don't think holistic
6. They're adamant (I won't say firm). They not come as advisor or consultant but they more come like investigators & auditors.

Other firms in the same family are much more matured, wise & acceptable - including culture, people, advise & cost.

Yes - some of their insights are transformative - but at what cost does one get these insights is a conundrum!!!

Those who are thinking of signing them, take a step back & look out for options - there are many options these days, as this industry is also not eluded from competition any more.

Sorry to sound cynical.

T T Ram Mohan said...

Very interesting comments, anonymous. It is interesting that you say at the end that their insights are 'transformative'. If this is true, then company can weigh the potential benefits against costs.


Anonymous said...

Haha, quite a dig at Mckinsey I must say!

But talking of the consulting companies in general, none of the competitors are creative enough to push Mckinsey from the position it currently enjoys. If the sector itself gets dissolved altogether it would be a different case.

However, the field of consulting in general and Mckinsey in particular has come quite far from what Mr. Bower had envisioned it as - Professional troubleshooters like doctors and lawyers to whatever it has become now!

Here is a very interesting editorial exhorting BCG to be much more bold in their vision if they want to lead the space. It reveals a lot about strategy firms too.