Books for project management in strategy consulting?

project management
New answer on Aug 30, 2022
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Anonymous A asked on Aug 20, 2022

Hi all, I’m wondering if there’s any great resource or books to learn project management of a strategy consulting project in a structured way? Ideally, it covers the end to end process of a strategy consulting projects, such as how to identify key client issues in the beginning, generating hypothesis, all the way to building a compelling storyline, and communicating the project recommendations to clients? Thanks in advance!

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Florian
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replied on Aug 22, 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Coach | Top MBB Coach | 5 years @ McKinsey | Author of the 1% | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

If you work in one of the big strategy consulting firms, you will pick up this process and the needed skill set implicitly. Yes, there are training programs and everything, yet you learn everything you need on the job through observation and the direct coaching/feedback culture.

This works since you gradually develop into a project manager. As a young BA or Associate, you start taking over project management for your workstream, relationships with some clients, and internal staff. As you get tenure, you take over more and more responsibility, managing younger colleagues on the team and larger parts of the project.

For instance, at McKinsey, you essentially need to demonstrate that you have acquired the skills for the next level, before being promoted to that level. Hence, an EM usually has proven themselves already in one or two previous projects as a junior EM.

To be honest, no book can prepare you for that. :-)

Cheers,

Florian

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Ian
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replied on Aug 21, 2022
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Hi there,

Honestly? I've been “led” by managers who had read a book and decided to run the team that way. I've also been led by managers who had experience, instinct, read the situation/room, etc. I think books are great, but when it comes to something like this you really need to learn by doing, find mentors, observe managers around you, and attend company trainings.

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Cristian
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replied on Aug 22, 2022
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Hi there, 

That's a good idea of a book that should be written :) But unfortunately there isn't one that even remotely addresses this issues that I would recommend at this point. 

If anything, I would suggest you read ‘Daniel on McKinsey’ which is a book written by a former top senior partner at McKinsey (Ron Daniel). It explains how the industry works and how McKinsey works specifically. 

Perhaps the most interesting insight from there (for me) was that the volume of consulting work in the market is not defined by the market itself, or how big the companies etc., but rather by the number of consultants. Basically, the more consultants you have, the more issues and opportunities you can identify for clients, the more you can pitch, the more knowledge and assets you can develop and then more consulting engagements will follow. 

Best,

Cristian

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Clara
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replied on Aug 21, 2022
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Hello!

It´s a very legit question, but I am afraid that the truth here is that you learn it by doing!

I found that what helped me most was to keep my eyes very open and absorb everything that my seniors were doing, and the only way you do that is in the field. 

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Sofia
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replied on Aug 20, 2022
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Hello,

If you are asking this in preparation for a job or internship, I truly believe that there is no good substitute for learning on the job: go to trainings at your firm, ask questions from colleagues, observe and learn as much as you can. Different firms also have slightly idiosyncratic ways of running strategy projects, so it is the most helpful way to know what is expected of you. I know this may not be the most helpful answer, but it's just my perspective. Though if anyone has any books or resources they found particularly helpful, I am all ears!

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Anonymous B on Aug 21, 2022

Without even reading the responses above, I had the same exact thoughts. Project management specifically, I would say is best learned through experience and practice. In fact, too much theory might even be detrimental when they are in contradiction to actual practical situations.

Pedro
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replied on Aug 30, 2022
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I've been for about 15 years in consulting and unfortunately haven't heard of such book. I would buy it. :)

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Florian gave the best answer

Florian

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