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Clara

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3

Brainstorming vs Brainsteering

McKinsey's approach to problem solving is brainsteering (a top-down approach we learn when we do cases). IDEO and Design Thinking have a bottom-up approach where you see more traditional brainstorming (e.g., Affinity Diagramming in Design Thinking: https://spin.atomicobject.com/2018/05/02/affinity-diagram-mapping/).

I'm applying for McKinsey Digital - I do think that McKinsey also focuses on designing products and customer experiences for consumers.

I have two questions
- Is this open and unstructured brainstorming methodology IDEO and design firms use relevant at MBB firms
- How does MBB firms adopt Design Thinking - is the experience I have with Design Thinking something that I should bring up during the interview?

McKinsey's approach to problem solving is brainsteering (a top-down approach we learn when we do cases). IDEO and Design Thinking have a bottom-up approach where you see more traditional brainstorming (e.g., Affinity Diagramming in Design Thinking: https://spin.atomicobject.com/2018/05/02/affinity-diagram-mapping/).

I'm applying for McKinsey Digital - I do think that McKinsey also focuses on designing products and customer experiences for consumers.

I have two questions
- Is this open and unstructured brainstorming methodology IDEO and design firms use relevant at MBB firms
- How does MBB firms adopt Design Thinking - is the experience I have with Design Thinking something that I should bring up during the interview?

3 answers

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Book a coaching with Clara

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Hello!

Indeed both of them are used, just at different stages/seniorities during the engagements.

When you do LOPs (letter of proposal, so the docs you do to sell an engagement to a client) and present it, it´s where you could see most brainsteering.

However, once the project kicks-off, the operational day-to-day work has more to do with brainstorming.

Personally, I learned about Design Thinking when I was working in McK -we were even given a course by an expert- and then applied it.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

Indeed both of them are used, just at different stages/seniorities during the engagements.

When you do LOPs (letter of proposal, so the docs you do to sell an engagement to a client) and present it, it´s where you could see most brainsteering.

However, once the project kicks-off, the operational day-to-day work has more to do with brainstorming.

Personally, I learned about Design Thinking when I was working in McK -we were even given a course by an expert- and then applied it.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Hi,
the top-down brainsteering is used during the first problem-solving sessions with partners, to identify a structured approach to the problem. It is the one simulated during case interview and it will be important to practice.
The bottom-up brainstorming instead is adopted during the engagements by the team, once the structure is clear.

Hope it helps,
Antonello

Hi,
the top-down brainsteering is used during the first problem-solving sessions with partners, to identify a structured approach to the problem. It is the one simulated during case interview and it will be important to practice.
The bottom-up brainstorming instead is adopted during the engagements by the team, once the structure is clear.

Hope it helps,
Antonello

Thank you, Antonello! Good to confirm that McKinsey also does bottom-up brainstorming too. It is easy to think that McKinsey only does top-down brainsteering. Do you have a rough idea about how much top-down brainsteering you will do at McKinsey compared to bottom-up brainstorming? I want to communicate in the interview that I really appreciate the top-down thinking "e.g., lets focus on fast and healthy snacks as an outcome". I see a clear value of brainsteering with partners. I also see the value of bottom-up traditional brainstorming in questions like "what are the customer pain-points engaging with this product", "how might we change change the user experience, how might we prototype and pitch ideas to solve the customer pain-points" (typical design thinking activities). Would this be something a McKinsey interviewer would relate to? — Anonymous A on Jan 05, 2020

It depends on the project, but top-down approach is used mainly at the beginning of the engagement, in case of a new scope and when you draft the document for the final Steering Committee. — Antonello on Jan 06, 2020

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Hi,

I would not discuss those topics in the interview unless you specifically know that the person you are talking to is responsible for design thinking. McKinsey Digital interview is very similar to generalist McKinsey interviews and you will be mostly interviewed by the generalist consultants who don't necessarily understand those concepts

Best

Hi,

I would not discuss those topics in the interview unless you specifically know that the person you are talking to is responsible for design thinking. McKinsey Digital interview is very similar to generalist McKinsey interviews and you will be mostly interviewed by the generalist consultants who don't necessarily understand those concepts

Best

Hi, so mentioning experience with Design Thinking would not be appreciated by generalist consultants during an interview? — Anonymous A on Jan 06, 2020 (edited)

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