The McKinsey Edge (★★★☆☆)

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Shu Hattori  *  McGraw-Hill Education  *  November 24, 2015  *  192 Pages

In The McKinsey Edge, Shu Hattori aims to communicate the tips and tricks he has learned while working for the global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. Truthfully, I’m not completely sure I understand what McKinsey & Company does, but, as far as I can tell, the firm exists to help big companies become more efficient, productive, and profitable.

The book, overall, does contain insightful and helpful points. Some of my favorites:

  • Have a 30-second answer to everything. If someone wants more detail, she will ask.
  • Pause 3 seconds before answering difficult questions. Show others you can withstand the weight of silence.
  • Put your best effort into a project early, since this is when you will make the strongest, most lasting impression.
  • Ask questions sooner rather than later. The earlier you ask, the less judgment and irritation there will be.
  • Create a holiday card for yourself one year in advance. Write down what you will have accomplished by the end of next year.
  • Schedule time for “new learning” (reading books, meeting new people, etc.) by putting it on your to-do list.

I most enjoyed the advice given in Chapter 2, about “growing with others.” I thought this section really showed Hattori to be a thoughtful, caring, intentional, engaged, and kind person. I can see why he would be a good boss. Some of my favorite pieces of advice in this section:

  • Assume people have good intentions. Find the good, and remember it.
  • Deliver feedback using positive criticism.
  • Assign meaningful tasks to employees.
  • Meet with new people every week. And don’t “grade” the interactions afterward. The value is in the meetings themselves.

I enjoyed the content of this book. However, I have two HUGE criticisms. First, I really wish the author had gone into more detail about what the firm actually does. There is an appendix in the back that describes the structure of the company somewhat, but I still found it insufficient. I ended up having to research the company on my own, so I could understand what I was actually reading about–and, even now, I’m still confused. It didn’t help that the author seemed to be writing SO specifically to McKinsey employees. He says things like “The associate to engagement manager transition is the most challenging” and “People who work at McKinsey must learn to use a blank callout text box with an arrow pointed to a manlike figure made up of a circle and an isosceles triangle.” Huh? Is that supposed to mean something to anyone who doesn’t work at McKinsey? Why alienate readers by putting such specific information like that in there?

Second–and this is the biggie–this book is very, very poorly written. The author bio claims that Hattori is a native English and Japanese speaker, but this book definitely reads like it is written by someone who does not speak English as a first language. There is awkward sentence structure, incorrect grammar, and random shifts in verb tense. Hattori says things like “an encapsulating speech” and “Now, let the curtain unveil!” and “You want to show a solid reputation” and “But like most first timers, the experience takes a steep nosedive at first.” (Do first timers take steep nosedives at first?) Ugh, it’s just bad writing.

Normally, I would give a book written like this two stars, max. But the content in here is actually pretty good. Plus, the more I read the book, the more I became accustomed to the author’s writing style, and the easier it was to read. So, take it for what it is. There is good info in here, and I would argue that the book is worth checking out. But be prepared to work to get something out of it; the many grammatical mistakes and odd language choices are undeniably distracting.

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