No matter what industry you’re in, reading is one of the best ways to stay updated, connected and educated. In management consulting, these come in the form of journals, credible online forums and books (to name a few).
With so much information circulating both online and offline, it can be very easy to get carried away with sourcing out the right books or content that you need. It is important to find a relevant and reliable source for your management consulting knowledge. An example of a dependable source is one that consultants frequently mention, reference or comment on (for online reads).
Finding great consulting sources can not only expand your views and knowledge of the industry, but also provide you topics to talk about during networking, or during an interview. Your colleagues and superiors may also find your insight useful in current events that are related to the consulting industry. We have sorted out and carefully selected the best management consulting reads that can help you prepare for your upcoming career.
Perspective on McKinsey
Over the years, McKinsey & Company has published their own set of books that they take pride in. Some of these books they provide for candidates who pass their standards during the interview process, which serves as an introduction during their employment at the top level firm.
One of these books is Perspective on McKinsey by Marvin Bower. The content of the book provides a complete overview of McKinsey, from the company’s history to how the firm is shaping large companies on a global scale. This is a great read for anyone who is serious about breaking into the management consulting industry. You will know how high to set your standards and what type of consultant it takes to perform at painstaking competitive levels. Perspective on McKinsey can be found in Amazon.
Blue Ocean Strategy
Blue Ocean Strategy is a book that was written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne of Blue Ocean Institute. The book provides key insights on 150 business strategies over the span of 100 years across 30 popular industries. The general concept that the writers are trying to promote is that instead of going head to head with your competition, move out to open markets; or in most cases, create your own. There are a number of analytics and frameworks to take note of in the book that has helped leading companies add value to their business.
Examples are provided with each framework such as The Six Paths Framework, which is designed to minimize the risks related to expansion and planning. The opposite of the blue ocean (open, uncongested market), is the red ocean, which is a representation of all the markets that are present today. An example of a blue ocean market that is slowly turning into a red ocean market is cloud data and 3D printing. Companies that lead both industries today have provided consumers with an entirely new product that did not exist prior to their release.
The book received loads of criticism from analysts, saying that the book relies heavily on the first-mover advantage theory, disregarding other aspects such as competitive advantage, capabilities and resources. Despite the positive and negative feedback that the book received, there is no arguing that the strategies that are mentioned works, as it is backed up by research and hard data.
The information found in the book is considered to be reliable for those who need in depth information about business frameworks and successful strategies. Because of this, many consultants, especially those who specialize in strategy consulting, consider Blue Ocean Strategy as a great read and tool for creating opportunities for their future clients.
Case In Point
Case in Point, written by Marc P. Cosentino, is a book some, including The Wall Street Journal, consider as the “MBA Bible”. As you might have guessed by the title, the book is all about consulting case interviews. Case in Point serves as a complete guide for case interviews. The book also covers the Ivy Case System, which can help readers formulate answers for highly complex cases. For those who are looking for a book that can also teach application, this is a notable place to start. The book includes 40 strategy cases to work on, which also serves as examples. The strategy cases found in the book can be used for practice during consulting case interviews, as well as MBA programs.
The book does go through revisions, and several editions have already been released. The writer’s insight on the case interview process can remove the dreadful feeling of being overwhelmed by the steps in preparation. Instead, the writer encourages consulting applicants to take on the case interview as a medium to showcase their talents and potential as a qualified candidate for the vacant position.
For those who don’t know Marc P. Cosentino, he is considered to be the top authority for case interview-related topics. He has over 24 years of experience as a coach for applicants who come from prestigious universities and MBA programs. Many high-caliber MBA consulting clubs such as Wharton, Harvard Business School, as well as top consulting firms, regularly purchase the book by bulk for their members and staff.
Case in Point is one of those books that you can’t go wrong in purchasing. If you’re interested in other books that Marc P. Cosentino wrote, you may also wish to look into the following publications: The Harvard Guide to Investment Banking, The Harvard Guide to Consulting and The Harvard Guide to Case Interviews.
The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World
The Lords of Strategy was written by business journalist, Walter Kiechel. The book highlights the foundation and birth of corporate strategy. This information can give prospective consultants a clear view of the 1960s, where businesses started turning to key variable such as costs, competition and consumers when formulating successful strategies. Perhaps the most valuable insight that the book provides are the revealing accounts of the four individuals who are considered to be the inventors of corporate strategy; namely Bruce Henderson (founder of Boston Consulting Group), Fred Gluck (McKinsey & Company’s Managing Director), Bill Bain (founder of Bain & Company), and Michael Porter of Harvard Business School.
For applicants who keep asking “why” when it comes to formulating consulting strategies for their upcoming interview, The Lords of Strategy can provide the answers they are looking for. The book takes on a straightforward approach at how the corporate world was revolutionized into what it has become today.
Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time
Pitch Perfect was written by Bill McGowan, a leading advisor for tech companies such as Facebook, Dropbox and Salesforce.com. It deals with communication (both verbal and nonverbal), message delivery and overcoming pitfalls. Because consulting is such a communication driven industry, it is wise to touch up on one’s presentation, delivery and vocabulary skills. Presentations are a large part of a consultant’s career, whether it’s a presentation for an important client, or a presentation for superiors and other colleagues. This skill can set you apart from a consultant who is filled with impressive head knowledge, but lacks communication and presentation skills to back it up.
The book essentially elaborates that being the smartest person in the room can only get you so far. The author’s tips about the Principles of Persuasion are easy to pick up, practice, apply and eventually master. Pitch Perfect not only expounds on saying the right thing, but it also goes above and beyond to provide advice on the right timing as well when it comes to message delivery.
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
The Goal has been around for almost 30 years. Business consultant, Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt, wrote the book and has been noted as a credible model for systems management. The book highlights the Theory of Constraints and overcoming bottleneck-related problems. Since its 4th revision, the publication includes several business cases, which highlights strategic capacity planning and the constraints of management.
Unlike other consulting books, this book was written in a story-telling manner. The main character, Alex Rogo, is an owner of a manufacturing plant that is doomed to fail. Eventually, he meets a number of people who teaches him the fundaments of strategy, profitability and productivity. It may not sound appealing to some readers, but this book is being circulated in top level business schools.
If you are looking for a different approach to learning, besides the usual bullet point facts and studies, The Goal may be what you’re looking for. The book not only shines light on concerns related to systems management, but also solutions in addressing key factors that can help minimize the risks that today’s companies are facing on a regular basis.
To conclude, these books are not only a great read, but can also equip consulting applicants with the right skills, knowledge and wisdom in preparing for the recruitment process.
Are you looking for a complete management consulting guide for your preparation needs? We offer a top tier management consulting job guide for applicants who are keen on addressing the key issues related to their upcoming consulting interview. The very useful guide highlights how to write an attention-grabbing cover letter and resume, as well as employment preparation exams. The essential skills you need for a successful interview are also featured in the guide. Download your copy today!