The firm was founded in 1926 by university of Chicago professor, James (“Mac”) McKinsey, it was called “accounting and engineering advisors”. Mac started recruiting experienced executives and training them in the integrated approach he called his General Survey outline. In Saturday morning sessions he would lead consultants through an undeviating sequence of analysis – goals, strategy, policies, organisation, facilities, procedures and personnel – while still encouraging them to synthesize data and think for themselves. McKinsey’s mission was to help clients make positive, lasting, and substantial improvements in their performance and to build a great firm that is able to attract, develop, excite, and retain exceptional people.
Bower’s vision of the firm was: “one focused on issues of importance and top-level management, adhering to the highest standards of integrity, professional ethics, and technical excellence, able to attract and develop young men of outstanding qualifications, and committed to continually raising its stature and influence. Above all, it was to be a firm dedicated to the mission of serving its clients superbly well. Bower also articulated a policy that every assignment should bring the firm something more than revenue – experience or prestige for example. Bower and his colleagues believed that well-trained, highly intelligent generalists could quickly grasp the issue, and through disciplined analysis find its solution.
The firm grew extraordinarily domestically in the 1950’s which provided a basis for international expansion that accelerated the rate of growth in the 1960’s. Offices opened in London, Geneva, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf and Paris. McKinsey was now a well established and highly respected presence in Europe and North America.
To Gupta the task of knowledge development had become much more complex over the past decade or so due to three intersecting forces:
• In an increasingly information and knowledge driven...
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