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When McKinsey Comes to Town summary

Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe

The Hidden Influence of the World's Most Powerful Consulting Firm

4.1 (349 ratings)
24 mins

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When McKinsey Comes to Town exposes the controversial practices of the renowned consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Through investigative journalism, it uncovers the firm's influence on global companies, governments, and even individuals, shedding light on its power and consequences.

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    When McKinsey Comes to Town
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    It’s just business

    You’ve probably heard the name “McKinsey.” It usually appears in connection with Fortune 500 companies like General Electric, Microsoft, and Ford. In fact, it’s safe to say almost every major corporation has worked with the consulting powerhouse at some point. 

    McKinsey & Company has advised pharmaceutical giants, government regulators, airlines, universities, weapons makers, and media outlets. It’s even counseled US presidential administrations – including those of Obama and Trump.

    Operating in 65 countries, McKinsey works with top business, political, and military leaders. Sometimes entire nations hire them for advice. This has netted the firm an estimated worth of $31.5 billion. 

    But what does McKinsey actually do to earn these hefty fees?

    The company claims to help clients craft innovative policies and strategies to stay competitive. In the grand scheme, it promises to boost economies and make the world a better place. But in reality, its formula for success tends to be quite reductive.

    McKinsey’s typical playbook involves slashing costs, laying off workers, and cutting “unnecessary” safety measures. The results are often disastrous, especially for the workers. But even its elite clients sometimes find themselves worse off than before. 

    Let’s look at the example of the US Steel Corporation. Once the world’s most profitable steel company, by 2014 it was struggling – failing to keep up with innovation in the industry. The new CEO hired McKinsey to turn things around. As usual, McKinsey laid off dozens of workers. At first, stock prices rose. But by 2015, losses hit $75 million. Even worse, McKinsey made dangerous staff and maintenance cuts despite workers’ protests. Soon, two workers were electrocuted in accidents tied directly to the reductions.

    At protests following the deaths, angry workers began chanting “McKinsey sucks!” But in the end, it was US Steel who paid a meager $14,500 in reparations; McKinsey consultants faced no consequences.

    The same cycle repeated itself at Disneyland. McKinsey pushed major maintenance cuts to boost profits despite employee warnings about ride safety. Soon, accidents followed – including two tragic deaths. But again, McKinsey denied all responsibility.

    This disturbing pattern reveals how McKinsey operates behind its prestigious image. It recommends harsh, cost-cutting measures to satisfy corporate interests. For McKinsey, this is just business. But for ordinary people, it can spell disaster and despair.

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    What is When McKinsey Comes to Town about?

    When McKinsey Comes to Town (2022) is a riveting deep dive into how the world’s most powerful consulting firm fosters inequality, corruption, and global instability. It examines McKinsey’s ties to controversial industries and governments, and reveals the stark contrast between the firm’s lofty values and its actions – from incentivizing opioid prescriptions to supporting authoritarian regimes. 

    When McKinsey Comes to Town Review

    When McKinsey Comes to Town (2021) sheds light on the influence of consulting giant McKinsey & Company on global affairs. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • By revealing untold stories of McKinsey's clients and employees, it uncovers the impact of their work on corporations, governments, and societies.
    • The authors' meticulous research and juxtaposition of facts provide a comprehensive yet accessible examination of McKinsey's methods and consequences.
    • Through its narrative-driven approach, the book keeps readers engaged, making the complex world of management consulting fascinating and accessible.

    Who should read When McKinsey Comes to Town?

    • Anyone interested in politics and policy
    • Fans of investigative journalism
    • Leaders trying to avoid similar missteps

    About the Author

    Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe are investigative journalists renowned for their work at the New York Times, Bloomingdale, and many other prestigious outlets. Bogdanich, a multiple Pulitzer Prize winner, has exposed issues ranging from corporate misconduct to rail safety. Forsythe, who won a Pulitzer Prize himself, gained acclaim for his groundbreaking reporting on the wealth of Chinese leadership families. Their joint effort, When McKinsey Comes to Town, was named Book of the Year 2022 by both the New York Times and the Times. 

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    When McKinsey Comes to Town FAQs 

    What is the main message of When McKinsey Comes to Town?

    The main message of When McKinsey Comes to Town is to examine the controversial influence of McKinsey and the repercussions it has on governments and economies.

    How long does it take to read When McKinsey Comes to Town?

    The reading time for When McKinsey Comes to Town varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is When McKinsey Comes to Town a good book? Is it worth reading?

    When McKinsey Comes to Town is worth reading as it sheds light on the practices and power of McKinsey, raising crucial questions about corporate influence and accountability.

    Who is the author of When McKinsey Comes to Town?

    The authors of When McKinsey Comes to Town are Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe.

    What to read after When McKinsey Comes to Town?

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