McKinsey & Co is a global firm that provides ‘top management’ advice and consulting support.
McKinsey has offices in more than 60 countries, and, since its founding in the 1950s by Marvin Bower, has maintained its position as the premier management consulting firm. McKinsey & Co has retained its position despite strong challenge from rival ‘top management’ consultants such as Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company, as well as much larger firms with capabilities in IT consulting and operations such as Accenture
The consulting business is about winning and delivering projects. While each project is a different value chain often involving completely different work steps, from the perspective of the firm as a whole there is one value chain – hire consultants, train and develop the consultants, develop knowledge and tools useful to clients, win projects and deliver projects. One area of differentiation is the way McKinsey builds relationships, making better use of research and alumni relationships.
McKinsey has a matrix structure. Offices are profit centers, but power and decision making is divided between office leaders (e.g. New York), industry sector leaders (e.g. Financial Services), practice leaders (e.g. Organization) and major client directors (e.g. Volkswagen). McKinsey aims to attract the best and brightest from business schools and other sources; seeks to offer the best training; controls its people resources centrally; and runs a policy of promotion or exit (‘up or out’).
McKinsey rarely uses external suppliers to help the firm deliver projects. However it does have important suppliers of training for its consultants and of IT systems for running the firm.
The firm has offices in 63 countries, normally in major cities that are attractive to consultants and close to major companies. Most project work is done on client premises.
There are important central databases for knowledge management, client information and people. The business is run through an ERP system.
System McKinsey measures profit by project, by office and by client. However, quality of work and client satisfaction are more important. Partner election processes are elaborate.