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The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,276 ratings  ·  170 reviews
The story of McKinsey & Co., America’s most influential and controversial business consulting firm, “an up-to-date, full-blown history, told with wit and clarity” (The Wall Street Journal).

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
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ebook, 400 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Simon Schuster (first published August 6th 2013)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  2,276 ratings  ·  170 reviews


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Start your review of The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Q:
Any chief executive who hires a consultant to give them strategy should be fired. (c)
Q:
You can forecast anything. Delivering actual results is a different story. (c)
Q:
“And McKinsey never really left the building. A decade later, when John Birt, then director-general of the BBC, stepped down from his job, McKinsey brought him on as a part-time consultant. In 2005 Birt severed all ties with the firm after critics suggested that working for 10 Downing Street in London and McKinsey posed a
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Jay Connor
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'll be the first to admit that the audience for this book is pretty narrow. In addition to McKinsey alums looking for a shout out, the folks like me who are intrigued by the art of management and those folks interested in the (I'd argue contradictory) impulse to contract management's accountability out to MBA gunslingers, are pretty rare birds.

If you are in one of those categories, you will greatly enjoy Duff McDonald's "no-agenda" relaying of the history of McKinsey and consulting.

First, the
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James
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, business
Ah business books. You sit there with the allure of time spent not only being entertained but worthily garnering all sorts of useful life skills or at the very least a snippet or two that you can use to hint at far deeper knowledge. Very rarely they actually entertain, challenge or inform, in fact around one percent of the time. The other 99% goes a little bit like this

1. I had a decent newspaper article and i turned into a long book
2. I had an title which would be really exciting but could not
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Marks54
Sep 19, 2013 rated it liked it
This is an updated company history of McKinsey, the strategic consulting firm that has been so successful that it has come to define the standard for providing management advice. The story follows the firm from its inception to the recent insider trading scandal involving former managing director Raj Gupta.

The book presents a curious mix of popular acclaim, criticism of the dark sides of the consulting business (legitimating management decisions, justifying downsizing, providing inside
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Ravi Shrivastava
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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Andrew
Sep 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
Trash
Mitesh
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my second year of management consulting, I'd worked on a project that involved detailing the history of Management Consulting as an industry. So, could connect very well with the details provided in the book from inception to evolution to current state of McKinsey. Plus, I have been a management consultant, though for a very short period of 13 months and could relate to the author's arguments about how McKinsey, a large organisation with no tangible product influences not just the corporate, ...more
Utkarsh Modi
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book # 22 The Firm: The Inside Story of McKinsey

This book by McDonald is like a BBC documentary on McKinsey (except for the fact that it took much longer to complete than watching a documentary!) – and as goes with BBC Documentaries sometimes (closest example is their work on Putin) – it is opinionated at times with ambivalent statements and self-contradicting conclusions.
The book traces the story of McKinsey – how James McKinsey founded the firm in the 1920s in effect giving birth to the
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Sana Vasli
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Well written and researched book, but highly misleading. The tagline of the book is click bait. It's not a tale of a controversial firm. It's a promotional book, massively in favour of them.

All of the "gotcha" moments weren't compelling enough for me to be suspicious of McKinsey. In fact I finished the book respecting what they have achieved. They co-invented the barcode and the White House Chief of Staff!

This book shares some interesting things about McKinsey and you should only read if you
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Ninaad
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
A long Wikipedia article that is only relevant to consultants. Well researched. Average quality writing.
Jeff
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Duff McDonald's business writing has always been underlined by his expertise (in addition to writing for the likes of Fortune, Vanity Fair, New York, Conde Nast Portfolio, and many other publications, he is the author of a biography of Jamie Dimon and has himself worked on Wall Street). His writing is clear, brimming with content, and infused with a story-teller's instinct for narrative. This detailed account of the entire history of McKinsey showcases all those positives, while nicely ...more
Emma
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book confirms many or my prior opinions and insights, that McKinsey is the Microsoft of today, too large, too overblown, and run by people while smart are out of touch with the realities of how business operates. Worse, some of its leadership have been convicted of illegal practices, and even though that number is small, others involved with Enron, HP, the economic crisis, and others, McKinsey side stepped responsibility by telling the world that, while they provide strategic advice they ...more
Evan
Feb 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
This was an interesting book, but it didn't seem well organized to me. McKinsey has such a long history that I think it would be difficult to write a detailed summary of the firm. There was much interesting information, but I feel like the author tried to cover too many small examples. Maybe this would be a better book for someone who is more familiar with events that occurred over the span of the book. There were lots of interesting facts, but it almost felt like too many.
LeikHong Leow
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I was attracted to the book by its title - McKinsey. I like to learn how McKinsey became the world-leading consulting firm. This book shared the whole history of the firm, how it was founded and the rise and fall for the last 80 years.

To me, this book is more like a history book of the firm, not many ideas on how they did it. Most parts of the stories were elaborating their legendary leaders, I was hoping to find out about the strategies instead.
Dave Mason
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great read to get an understanding of macro biz trends during the past 100 years, and to learn (arguably) who (McKinsey) has influenced them, and how.

I work in an agency, so it's interesting to read how a consulting firm can scale its business like McKinsey has. I took notes and learned something.
Christopher Anderson
Sep 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audio
I used to be able to count on one hand the number of books I give up on - now it takes two. This is a dry and uninteresting pile of generalities. I forced myself to get 1/2 in, waiting for it to get interesting. 3/5 of the way through it never got there and I through in the towel. Life is too short to waste time reading this book.
Dawa Tundup
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scintillating and exciting
Robert
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Good insight into the world of consulting and how a company ethical code can get lost on the way to making large amounts of money
Tom
Feb 21, 2019 rated it liked it
An institutional biography of the consulting firm, McKinsey. Interesting to learn more about how consultants operate, the arrogance, the massive fees, and the all-too-frequent questionable advice. The book contains many stories about McKinsey's bad advice that led to massive business failures, and yet McKinsey never took the blame for any of them. For example, why were no McKinsey directors subpoenaed after Enron's failure? They were basically running the company.

On McKinsey's advice to General
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Louis Chatelet
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: business
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott Wozniak
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a book about the most successful consulting firm in history--by an author who doesn't like consulting or consultants. He peppers snide comments and insults all throughout the book, like: "Despite the fact that only bad leaders need consultants, they were hired by..." and "We all know that consultants don't produce any value, but they tell their clients that change is what they offer..." Lost a star for that petty writing. The other star lost is because he very vague about certain aspects ...more
A. Sacit
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
The Firm gives a historical account of the consulting company McKinsey, referred to as The Firm, and a good overview of the management consulting business in general. Management consultants, in most cases, were a boon for incompetent corporate managers who did not know how to manage effectively and needed a rubber stamp for their decisions. If the outcome was good, management took the credit; if it was a failure, they had the consultants to point a finger at. We learn that some of the most ...more
Nathanael
Mar 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was a masterpiece of a hatchet job. Not only are management consultants criminally useless, but managers and executives have never had a meaningful function in our society! All are bourgeoisie and de facto only steal from workers, hence they shouldn't exist in a fair society. Is that a valid starting point for a history of a management consultancy? If you don't believe it should exist, can you be honest about a thing?

Perhaps you can, but this author cannot. Every sentence that hints
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Alex
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Business:
-Youth over experience
-Take the plunge early, dominate your field for a very long time to come
-Put the firm over your own interests
-You belong to a special club of elite people
-Everyone shares in big pool of company earnings
-Full resources of the firm at your disposal
-Likable person
-Join local boards, charities, help out community relations
-Innovate
-Younger and hungrier is good
-Early minds easy to mold
-Harvard guys work there because they have always been use to winning and this
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Monita  Mehra
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Well documented history of McKinsey but it kept going back to the years for referencing time and again. There were times when the context was lost but it came back a few pages later, could be avoided.
Initial years of The Firm were good with good people helming the same but over the years, the complete character of the company changed along with people at the helm changing at regular intervals. The book clearly says that the character of a company is defined by the management and not the
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Zahedul
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This Firm is the story of Mckinsey, one of the foremost management consulting firms in the world. The book explains the different stages of the organization’s growth story. The author sheds light on the tenor of all the Managing directors, focusing on the how the organization had evolved, in the event of challenges coming from strategy consulting upstarts like BCG and Bain in the seventies. The eighties saw the entry of audit-consulting firms like E&Y and PwC into the consulting space, which ...more
Breakingviews
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
By Jeffrey Goldfarb

Understanding McKinsey is no easy feat. The doyen of management consulting firms is at once ubiquitous and mysterious. Its advice is coveted yet often misguided. Dysfunction, typical of any organization, belies McKinsey’s well-cultivated prestige. “The Firm,” a new book by journalist Duff McDonald, goes a long way to unraveling some of these complexities in a highly readable history of the consigliere to the world.

Just how McKinsey managed over 80 years to gain access to so
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Alex
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting read on the story of McKinsey, which is more or less the story of the management consulting industry, which is more or less the story of corporate America as a whole, over the past century. Describes the founding of the company, the ingenious way it designed itself and its relationship with the clients, and many of the innovations it pushed into the mainstream, but also some of the ways in which it's missed the beat. Sheds a lot of light on the popular idea of McKinsey or other ...more
Rob Rains
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5* McDonald offers a fairly comprehensive (but not as detailed) history of venerated consultancy McKinsey, taking painstaking efforts to highlight the firm's not so humble beginnings and some of its misfires. The book, rightfully, takes a fairly cynical look at the consulting industry and paints a portrait of rampant hubris and greed pulsing through McKinsey. Businesses that drew the most from the firm, think the big banks in the run up to the great recession, or Enron, fell the furthest. ...more
Joel
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Insightful into management consulting

The Firm by Duff McDonald is about McKinsey and Company, the management consulting firm. It tells the story of Marvin Bower and how he brought the company to its success with his ideals. It also tells of the firm's insider trading scandal with its CEO Rajat Gupta.

My key takeaway about the industry is that no one really stays for the long haul. Youth is almost always prized over experience, and the firm is happy to add to its long list of illustrious alumni,
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: The Firm - Duff McDonald - Duplicate Editions 3 10 May 12, 2014 08:56AM  

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Duff McDonald is a journalist and the author of Last Man Standing, a biography of JPMorgan Chase CEO and chairman, Jamie Dimon. A contributing editor at Fortune magazine and the New York Observer, he has written for Vanity Fair, New York magazine, Esquire, GQ, Wired, and Time, and has been awarded two Canadian National Magazine Awards. He lives in New York.
“Enron followed the unwise practice of paying bonuses based on forecasted profits, not actual cash flows, a system that posed a problem remarkably similar to the R&D issues Gluck and his colleagues had solved at Northern Electric years earlier. In short: You can forecast anything. Delivering actual results is a different story. The emphasis on forecasts also neutralized Enron’s so-called risk-management group, which became a shrinking violet in the face of ever more outrageous estimates.” 3 likes
“What have they fixed?” asked former McKinsey consultant Michael Lanning. “What have they changed? Did they take any voice in the way banking has evolved in the past thirty years? They did study after study at GM, and that place needed the most radical kind of change you can imagine. The place was dead, and it was just going to take a long time for the body to die unless they changed how they operated. McKinsey was in there with huge teams, charging huge fees, for several decades. And look where GM came out.”13 In the end, all the GM work did was provide a revenue stream to enrich a group of McKinsey partners, especially those working with the automaker. The last time McKinsey was influential at Apple Computer was when John Sculley was there, and that’s because he’d had a brand-marketing heritage from Pepsi. And Sculley was a disaster. Did McKinsey do anything to help the great companies of today become what they are? Amazon, Microsoft, Google? In short, no.” 2 likes
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