The Firm

The Firm

The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business

Book - 2013
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Baker & Taylor
A revelatory history of the controversial consulting firm traces its decades-long influence in both business and political arenas, citing its role in the establishment of mainstream practices and modern understandings about capitalism.

Baker
& Taylor

A behind-the-scenes, revelatory history of the controversial consulting firm traces its decades-long influence in both business and political arenas, citing its role in the establishment of mainstream practices and modern understandings about capitalism while evaluating the failures that have compromised its reputation. 60,000 first printing.

Simon and Schuster
A behind-the-scenes, revelatory history of McKinsey & Co., America’s most influential and controversial business consulting firm, told by one of the nation’s leading financial journalists.

It ranks among the unquestioned laws of American big business over the last half century: If you want to be taken seriously, you hire McKinsey & Company.

FOUNDED IN 1926, McKINSEY CAN LAY CLAIM to the following partial list of accomplishments: its consultants have ushered in waves of structural, financial, and technological change to the nation’s best organizations; they remapped the power structure within the White House; they even revo­lutionized business schools. In this book, star financial journalist Duff McDonald shows just how, in becoming an indispensable part of decision making at the highest levels, McKinsey has done nothing less than set the course of American capitalism.

But he also answers the question that’s on the mind of anyone who has ever heard the word McKinsey: Are they worth it? After all, just as McKinsey can be shown to have helped invent most of the tools of modern management, the company was also involved with a number of striking failures. Its consultants were on the scene when General Motors drove itself into the ground, and they were Kmart’s advisers when the retailer tumbled into disarray. They played a critical role in building the bomb known as Enron.

McDonald is one of the few journalists to have not only parsed the record but also penetrated the culture of McKinsey itself—a corporate mandarin elite whose methods have been compared (by oth­ers and by themselves) to those of the Jesuits or the U.S. Marines. They feel so strongly about themselves that they have insisted on a proper noun where one need not exist. To an outsider, they are a consulting firm. To themselves, simply, The Firm. This revealing book uncovers the inner workings of what just might be the most influential private organization in America.

Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2013
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781439190975
1439190976
Branch Call Number: 338.761 M145f
Characteristics: 387 pages ; 24 cm

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StarGladiator
May 24, 2015

This was a good history of McKinsey, but had some disagreements with the author on a number of financial angles: he points out some really bad deals they made, but doesn't blame them enough on others. Also, he doesn't shed any light on the fact that McKinsey has made the bulk of their money over the past 20 or so years in helping companies to offshore jobs. Period! Major oversight, that. [He does mention the disastrous purchase of Compaq by HP - - during Carly Fiorinia's reign - - and Nelson Rockefeller being in charge of the reorganization of the Department of Defense in 1953, and that it was Chase which bought out JP Morgan, an important point.] But IMHO, McKinsey has a history of pretty much pulling stuff out of its butt, much the same way a former employee of theirs, Tom Peters [Search for Excellence] also does. No doubt a McKinsey trait . . .Wonder if they were the ones who advised the government to invest in ISIS?

ravishri May 17, 2014

This book is worth a read. That said, there are some clear pros & (minor) con worth considering:

PROS:
* Walks you through the entire history in sufficient detail
* Provides good explanation behind why the firm changed the way it did at times
* Highlights its strength & weaknesses in an objective fashion

CONS:
* This is a minor point but I feel that the author uses speculation to hint at his understanding of things that we don't really know for sure such as assumptions that "CEOs who hire consultants routinely are not confident in their ability to lead and need someone to vet their decisions" - I could not find any good reason in the book to believe that to be true

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