Category Archives: Consultant

Top tier consulting compensation = good coin

Charles Aris is an executive recruiting firm based in N Carolina that specializes in placing top-tier consultants into industry. They are good at what they do. Take a look at their 2017 strategy consulting compensation study here. Rigorous methodology. In true consulting firm, their survey has a large sample size (900+ data points) from more than… Read More »

McKinsey’s $125B savings plan for the Pentagon, Ignored

So this morning there was a fantastical headline in the Washington Post here: Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste What the hay? Isn’t this a Ben Affleck movie about a government cover-up?  No, it’s an internal report created by the Defense Business Board, “a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from… Read More »

Consulting tip: Minto’s Pyramid Principle

Repost. This is from 4 years ago and covers the Minto’s pyramid principle – one of the most important concepts in executive communication and logical structuring of arguments. This is really big at all the big 4 and big 3. It is the scaffolding of management consulting thinking. My revised thoughts (2016) shown in red color. Consultants must structure… Read More »

Bain: Founder’s Mentality

Founder’s Mentality is a simple and elegant framework from Bain that describes how companies lose their way as they grow. The path from start-up to global juggernaut is not a straight line and Bain research shows that only 1 in 9 companies show sustainable growth for 10+ years. They call it the growth paradox – growth creates complexity and complexity kills growth. As consultants – I… Read More »

Consulting basics: What is a SOW?

A statement of work (SOW) is a phrase you will hear almost daily in your life as a consultant. It’s a client-facing document that outlines what the consultant is proposing to get done on a new project or phase of work. This is particularly important why? Because new projects are the lifeblood of a firm’s utilization, profitability, and career… Read More »

Case interview advice from Bain

It’s consulting interview season which means well-groomed MBAs are sitting across small tables with consulting firm partners and senior managers in something called a case interview. For those readers from consulting firms – you know this fire drill – and probably remember it fondly like Marines who remember “hell week”. Case interview advice. For those in the throes of case interview for full-time… Read More »

Consulting tip: Watch videos on LEAN

Lean. Toyota Production System. These are words and concepts that any business person should readily know and understand – even if you are not an operations consultant. Process improvement initiatives built on these concepts take out billions of dollars of waste every year – from every industry. A typical LEAN consulting project will easily take out $1-5 million of waste –… Read More »

Peter Drucker Quotes: “Time”

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker is a a classic.  Written 40+ years ago, and still enormously relevant.  You can find pdf online for free or buy it used at Amazon for $2 (affiliate link).  A steal. Great quotes from Drucker (shown in blue italics) on the subject of time: Time is THE most valuable resource. Effective executives know… Read More »

BCG: New CEO’s Guide to Transformation

The title of the BCG report sounds serious, but its a bit of a gem – easy to read and understand.  Download here (1Mb pdf). Boils down to three points: Successful CEOs need to plan the transformation before they start work Transformation is expensive, need to fund the journey with cost takeout There are 10 types of transformations; see… Read More »

Consulting tip: How to make a good survey

Consultants should use surveys more often. They are cost-effective, seemingly impartial, easy to use, and provide data in the “touchy and feel-y” areas where data might be hard to find, collect, or quantify. Bain, PWC, BCG, Deloitte all use surveys; see the links at the bottom of the post. Even on this website, readers reply to surveys to… Read More »

Rough consulting week: Embrace the suck

Last week was brutal. Was glad to just make it through the days without disappointing people or making too many mistakes. I had 32 different conference calls, a boat-load of work, a dentist appointment and planning for my mom’s 70th birthday. Apparently, the military uses an expression which was entirely appropriate last week: “Embrace the suck“,… Read More »

Review of 39pg McKinsey Presentation

McKinsey & Company do great work. On this blog, I have written about their leader, culture, high-visibility assignments at the CIA, and Department of Corrections. Overall, have enormous respect for the work they do, and the way they have built their practice. By any measure, they are monolithic at what they do.  So, now I would… Read More »

Review: The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey

Deloitte surveyed of 7,700 millennials globally here. The respondents were folks born after 1982 with college degrees, working in large organizations (100+) across 29 different countries. You work with millennials everyday – anyone under 33 years. As I have lots of opinions (nice thing about having a blog), see my comments in green. “Remarkable absence of loyalty” This is how… Read More »

McKinsey gets phase 2 on NY jail project for $7M

McKinsey & Company is a premiere management consulting firm with a long legacy of influential alumni, thought-provoking research, top-shelf billing rates, and legions of ivy-league smarties.They get called in to solve difficult problems – everything from corporate mergers to changing the organizational design at the CIA here. So, it is only with a bit of humor and… Read More »

Self-feedback: “How do you feel about your work?”

Self-feedback. I ask this of my team all the time. My favorite question to ask on team calls – to discuss analyses, client presentations, work product, or most of anything – is an open ended question. “What do you think? “”How do you like it? ” My thesis: If you don’t like your work, I likely won’t, and the client… Read More »

Consulting templates: Visualize what you want to say

PowerPoint. Over the last 20 years, there are very few days when I have not worked in PowerPoint. Sad, but true. Even when I am not creating one, I am often reading investor relations presentations or analyst reports. Pay attention to strong presentations. Collect them. See how authors structure data. Yesterday, I worked with my team on a… Read More »

McKinsey: 20% of CEO’s job can be outsourced

Routine work is going away. It always has been. Technology as old as the wheel, letter typeset, and the cotton gin have freed people from mundane and repetitive tasks. The market has a wonderful way of arbitraging work (thank you Adam Smith) to the least expensive person who can most reliably finish the job. That precisely is what leverage means.… Read More »

Good day for me, Tableau stock up 20%

I am a terrible stock-picker.  Trust me, my portfolio returns lag the general market. If you read about a stock on this consulting blog – just look the other way. I am writing about it because management consultants need to understand how the capital markets, annual reports, investor relations presentations, and investment research work. If you can learn a… Read More »

Management consulting stocks, quick comparison

Most management consulting firms are privately held. They start off as partnerships and remain that way: McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Deloitte, E&Y, KPMG, PWC, AT Kearney, PA Consulting, and LEK etc.  PRTM, Monitor and others were bought out. It takes a lot of patience, trust, and brand-building to build a management consulting firm – and that is probably why… Read More »

McKinsey’s managing partner interview – failing to make partner twice

For those interested in management consulting – Dominic Barton is a name you will recognize – the managing partner at McKinsey & Company.  Basically the chief of the chief consulting firm.  This interview with him is a 1,500 word read, but worth it here by Knowledge@Wharton, the business school’s magazine. Stay humble and learn.  Barton’s first assignment… Read More »

What is accounts receivable (AR)? Consultants gotta get paid

Accounts receivable (AR) is what people owe you.  For anyone who has written an invoice or had difficulty getting a client to pay you for your work, you know how awkward and stressful it is wait for the money. Checking your email, mailbox and bank account to see in clients have paid their bills. Frustrating.… Read More »

CIA hires McKinsey; $10M for a reorganization project

If there is any question that management consultants are hired to do difficult projects, look at this – McKinsey & Company will help the CIA reorganize and restructure here. Apparently, the plan is for the CIA to go from a functional structure (with separate analysis vs. espionage units), to one that is more integrated by regional focus or topic.… Read More »

Corporate marriage counseling

Organizations have trouble talking to themselves.  Ask any consultant and she will tell you that a good portion of her job is helping one part of their client organization talk to the other part.  Odd, I know.  For those not working with Fortune 500-size companies, you may assume that big companies communicate effectively.  Many times they don’t. Business… Read More »

The problem with metrics

Metrics are everywhere. As a consultant, we are in the business of quickly understanding business problems, proposing solutions, and measuring results. Metrics are a necessary evil of any project. The classic continuous improvement methodology DMAIC depends on M (measuring) and C (controlling the process).  Seemingly, Consulting is all about metrics and key performance indicators (KPI).… Read More »

What do consultants do?

It’s one person’s opinion, but here are 130 blog posts which I wrote over the last 3 years to describe my world-view of consulting. Hope you find it useful. Consultants are a strange breed. We span all industries, but ultimately we are in the business of helping executives make difficult decisions and implement change. It is a combination… Read More »

Big Design: McKinsey & Company buys Lunar

Design is popular.  It’s not surprising that McKinsey & Company bought a design company. Many consulting firms are branching out with acquisitions in areas which were once considered non-core. Deloitte has picked up a few digital agencies. Accenture bought Fjord, a design firm. Hell, even Capital One bought a design agency called Adaptive Path. Strategic design… Read More »

Consulting: Collaboration is over-rated

Okay, I said it.  I have seen too many organizations put together committees to drive “alignment”, when in actuality, they are trying to mollify a miscreant or hedge away the risk by legislating an answer.  Too often, it fails to achieve either of these goals.  The disgruntled just get more attention, and the middle-of-the-road answer is often the least… Read More »

Consulting manager: dictator mode vs. democracy mode

Increasingly, I have been using this simple, but stark, analogy to talk about team management.  Increasingly, seems like there are two ways to get outcomes. Democracy mode (what do you think?) Dictator mode (do what I say) As a manager, I want to get the most our of my people.  Get them focused on the goal, trust them… Read More »

Consulting humility: “I’ll go [get lunch], I am the cheapest person here”

When one of my consultants volunteered to go pick up food for the rest of the team, this made my day . . .because he understood consulting. It’s a combination of confidence and humility. Confidence in important things, humility is small things. Leverage.  This junior consultant, let’s call him Ted (pseudonym), implicitly understood how consulting firms make money.  We work on… Read More »

Careers after consulting

There is no better general business training than consulting. You work with super smart people, interact with clients daily, learn excel ninja skills, and get more valuable daily. It is a diaspora that gets spread across industries, geographies, and functions. Regardless where you are on the S-curve of your career – it will be a career… Read More »

Consultant, do you have 10,000 hours?

Malcolm Gladwell argues in Outliers here that you really don’t start to excel at something until you put in the requisite blood, sweat and tears . . . or 10,000 hours of focused energy. Yes, the Beatles were brilliant, but they also toiled at their craft in hundreds of small German bars in the early 1960s.  Without sacrifice,… Read More »

New Darden dean is ex-McKinsey

UVA Darden is a strong business school known for its case study method. Like Harvard, UVA uses this method to teach everything from finance to ethics.  Over the course of 2 years, the students have more than 600 cases.  Yes, it’s rigorous. Darden is known for consulting. Of course, the case method parallels a lot of consulting.  Lots… Read More »

Year-end reviews

Performance reviews: In management consulting, there are performance reviews going on constantly.  No seriously. . .  constantly.  Consulting readers, please disagree. A review for every project.  A mid-year review.  A year-end review. To the optimist, this is an ideal scenario because there is near constant feedback To the pessimist, this is an onerous task for all those involved While… Read More »

Consulting proposals: 12 common mistakes

In consulting, writing proposals and statements of work are the lifeblood of the firm.  It is akin to fisherman throwing out nets, or farmers planting seeds.  If you are not putting together proposals and pitching potential clients, you are dead. I’ve been writing a lot of consulting proposals recently.  Generally, I like this because it sync… Read More »