Since its founding in 1923, McKinsey & co has grown to become one of the most successful management consulting firms. It is definitely old news that any aspiring management consultant would strive to work at McKinsey; cracking complex business problems, a global “tour” and everything in between. But there is certainly more to the larger-than-life notions of the McKinsey way. Ethan Rasiel digs deeper into this in his book–The McKinsey Way. 

In this book, the author’s goal is to communicate new and useful skills to everyone who wants to be more efficient consulting. The McKinsey Way also turns the light on top techniques used by top management consultants in crafting and selling solutions. All lesson are based on Ethan’s experience as a McKinsey associate between 1989 to 1992.


This five-part book is a lee-way into the world of management consulting. Though tailored to suit the McKinsey world, the bulk of the book applies to any management consulting firm.  Here is a crisp insight into the five parts;

1. The McKinsey way of thinking about business problems.

The author thought it pertinent to note that problem-solving isn’t one of the things done at McKinsey, it is what is done at McKinsey. Ethan hammered on the uniqueness of each client and the importance of solving the right problem. 

Key Lesson: Don’t fear the truth, hunt for them and use them.

2. The McKinsey way of working to solve business problems.

I found the bit about how McKinsey sells without selling was rather fascinating. This section emphasizes the importance of structuring a project right from the start. 

Key Lesson: The right mix of people help you work better under pressure

3. The McKinsey way of selling solutions.

This part succinctly covers how to manage internal communications and resisting the temptation to tweak your presentation right up to the last minute. Do you know what they say about not letting the best be the enemy of the good? This section dwells on that. 

Key Lesson: Good business presentation should not contain anything new? All key players ought to be walked through the findings before the presentation.

4. Surviving at McKinsey

Working on a case until 1 AM for 6 months? That took the wind out of me but Ethan shared his experience and survival strategies. The most important one is laying down some rules if you want a life. Taking advantage of others’ experience and finding someone senior in the organization as a mentor are other ways to survive. 

Key Lesson: Lay down your work rules

5. Life after McKinsey

Apparently leaving McKinsey is never a question of whether—it’s a question of when. This part briefly recounts some memories and lessons learned at the Firm. It includes comments from interviews of former associates, engagement managers, and partners.

Key Lesson: “Anything that gets in the way of efficient communication is anathema to a strong organization”—Ethan M. Rasiel, New York office, 1989–92


Many facts and opinions got my attention but overall, two things jumped at me. The first is Ethan’s appeal to avoid boiling the ocean by trying to analyze everything in the discovery process. This includes not watching every YouTube video on a subject matter as I would do. He recommended selecting priorities and knowing when to stop.

The second is the silence trick. I truly resonated with the fact that a lot of people are uncomfortable with long silence. If you think an interviewee has left something out, your silence will cause a spill. You’ll also find the right way to start off an interview, how to conduct a difficult interview and everything in between

The McKinsey way is purely an overview of the McKinsey approach to solving business problems. Still, it is a good read for a person who isn’t familiar with McKinsey and is eager to learn more. Also, this fact-based, structured thinking combined with professional integrity will get you on the road to your business.

Most authors would implore you to read the book chronologically but Ethan described this book as a box of chocolate! But isn’t It a buffet?

If you aren’t fishing for any specific dish, I would rather you read from start to finish.

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