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What about innovation?

Recent activity on Aug 30, 2017
2 Answers
3.1 k Views
Simone asked on Aug 28, 2017
Looking for solid partners. Currently attending EMBA and preparing for MBB interview.


MBB are probably the best management cunsulting firms, clear. Something that is not clear to me is what is their role in termo of innovation, if any? Do they advise clients in innovation management and how? Are their familiar with close- or open-innovation models? And what about the recent trends like design thinking, design-driven innovation and design-sprint?

Someone from MBB that can help me understanding what they deal with beside the usual topics?

Thanks a lot!

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Carlo replied on Aug 28, 2017
Former Accenture Strategy

Hi Simone,

firstly, MBB are strategy consulting firms and not management consulting firms. Strategy consulting focuses on the creative part of the solution proposed, such as due diligence, new market entrance strategy, cost cutting strategies etc. Management consulting firms (Deloitte, Accenture, PWC, EY, etc.) focus on the implementation of solutions. Basically they put into practice a specific plan predetermined. MBB might have some management consulting projects, but is not their primary source of revenues. Instead, Accenture or Deloitte might have strategy projects, but they use them just hook up the clients and sell them management consulting solutions.

This clarification is important to answer your question. Yes, MBB focus on innovation developing innovative value propositions. "Innovative" means that they might offer solution that disrupt the existing value chain. Management consulting firms instead, tend to just apply and put into practice a plan.

If by "innovation" you meant digital strategies, then MBB certainly do offer these services but only related to strategy projects. Accenure, for instance, might work on the implementation of Salesforce or SAP in a specific company bringin their entire register of sales on a digital platform. This is not innovation from a purely strategic consulting perspective, this is just an implementation of the transition from paper registry to digital.

I hope i was clear enough!


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Simone on Aug 29, 2017

Thanks Carlo for your clarification. I have to confess that I'm still a bit confused about the distiction but it is more clear now. About innovation, I did not mean only digital strategies, as far as I know, innovation can be splitted in two main blocks: innovation of solutions and innovation of meanings. The solutions are like digital, products, business models, etc. The meaning is a different way to innovate (e.g. changing a meaning of something), as an example you can think about Nest thermostat (which is a thermostat that you can not program). So I was wondering if and where they are more active, I understood more in the innovation of solutions field. Thanks again!

Carlo on Aug 29, 2017

Ok let's put it this way. McKinsey is the one that will tell the client company which market to enter and what to sell. Accenture is the one that will put into practise such plan. As for innovation, in consulting it usually is related to innovation in the value proposition or innovation in the value chain. Respectively, the first mean a new way to approach clients and offer them innovative services. The second means disrupting the value chain changing the market dynamics, for instance what Uber did to the Taxi market.


replied on Aug 30, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


A know about 2 of them:

McKinsey has 2 digital groups:

  1. Digital (ex-BTO). This is a consulting group with a huge IT component. Projects include IT strategy, agile transformation, etc. They have digital teams in most of the countries through the scope varies. If you are in NY or SF, most of your projects will be in Digital. In other countries, you may have both generalist and IT projects.
  2. New Ventures - newly formed McKinsey team that acquires digital, design and startup firms. The main idea is in-house development of digital tools that can be sold (e.g. saas) to mck clients. Currently, McKinsey hires lots of industry experts for this new team and provides secondment opportunities for generalist consultants to lead these companies.

Accenture has Accenture Digital group. Group has its own HQ and representatives in various offices. Accenture was the first to start digital initiatives and acquisitions and was quite successful in it. Taking into account Accenture initials IT expertise - this was a very logical fit.

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