Goal for the week
This was the final week of the study. Our goal was to syndicate our findings with the client and finalize our presentation for the big steering committee meeting on Friday.
While the client and McKinsey teams didn’t agree on all recommendations, we were able to talk about the analyses and principles behind them, and define options and next steps for the client. This was also the week we set up a program management office so the client could begin systematically implementing and following up on our recommendations.
Impact on the client study
I think this study was one of the most successful with this client, and I was very, very happy about that. Our work helped to begin the turnaround for a business unit that had been performing poorly for years. On a personal note, I played a big role on this project; managing a large team and several partners and experts based all over the world. This project gave me a good chance to improve my leadership skills.
We had a very big team on this study, so we started the week off with a one-hour conference call to discuss the document we were going to share at the steering committee meeting. We went through the draft document page-by-page and talked about two things: the right structure for the document, and the team analysis page that would summarize our findings and recommendations. We identified some gaps we’d have to close and selected a member of the team leadership to provide each member of the team with more detailed guidelines on how to finish the analysis.
Work with financial modeling team members
After the call, I sat down to work with two associates on the team to pull together additional financial modeling analysis we needed. We walked through the financial model and tried to calculate the financial impact of our work based on various scenarios. Our findings were later incorporated in the final presentation.
Team lunch with client
We had lunch in the cafeteria at the client site with the entire McKinsey team and about five people from the client’s team. This is typical for the local culture; we normally go to lunch or dinner all together.
Meet one-on-one with client director
There were two directors on the client team who were both spending more than 50 percent of their time on our project, and we talked nearly every day about progress and the way we communicated our results with senior leadership on the client team. I sat down with one of the directors one-on-one to talk about our detailed plan for the final progress review at the end of the week. We spent thirty minutes going through the document to see what areas needed more work. We then spent another thirty minutes talking about how we would prepare for the final review, which client executives we should talk to, and who should attend those discussions.
Respond to client inquiries
I spent an hour or two checking e-mail and taking care of the things I needed to respond to, both for this project and for the broader client service team, where I am a core member of the leadership. On this team, we exchange ideas with the client about help they need in the future, and I get in touch with McKinsey experts globally to discuss those topics.
Work with engagement director and associate
I sat down with Sunny and David to talk about research and development (R&D) diagnosis. Sunny, an associate, is the McKinsey team member responsible for the R&D diagnosis workstream. David, the engagement director, is the partner in charge of the operational improvement workstreams. We had conducted the analysis, and the next step was to determine how to present the results to the R&D executives. We would have to syndicate the results with the vice president of R&D before we made our presentation to the steering committee. So, Sunny, David, and I talked about our key findings, the overall result of our financial analysis, and how to position them in our discussion with the vice president.
Work on final review document
I got the revised draft of the steering committee document back from our Visual Graphics department. I printed it out and made suggestions and edits directly on the document. With a team this large and a final progress review approaching, this was the best way to help every member continue to refine and improve their piece of the project before the big meeting at the end of the week. The final progress review document was about fifty to sixty pages long, and each team member was responsible for about five to ten pages.
Client service team leadership call
There were three or four ongoing studies with the client I was working with. We had a bi-weekly call with the engagement managers, associate principals, and partners to talk about the progress of each team and any issues we had to resolve. Because of our international team, we would have late-evening or early-morning calls to accommodate both U.S. and Asian time zones.
I interviewed two candidates applying to McKinsey for an associate position. I gave the candidates a case to test their problem-solving skills, and I talked with them about their leadership and teamwork experiences.
Go to client's site; talk to team
I grabbed a sandwich and took a taxi to the client site we were working on this week. When I arrived at the site, I quickly caught up with the team to see how each team member was doing. After that, I took care of the 50 or so e-mails that had arrived over night and in the morning.
Meet with vice president of strategy
This was the last week of the study, so we needed a lot of client syndication. Kangsei, a business analyst on my team, and I went to meet with the vice president of strategy to talk about how the client should change its global manufacturing footprint. We had some differing opinions that we needed to debate so we could communicate our findings in the right way to the senior client team at the steering committee meeting. The vice president brought two managers from his team who had done a similar analysis six months ago. We debated our analyses and their implications. We agreed on the principles behind our thinking, but not on the recommendations, because the client was facing difficulties implementing our recommendation. We agreed to add that into the final presentation for the steering committee.
Meet with another engagement manager on team
The U.S.-based team arrived in Korea, so we could all work together. I had been focused mostly on operation topics and Josh, the engagement manager of the U.S.-based team, on the market strategy pieces. We met and made a list of the things we needed to discuss and the implications of each work stream on the overall recommendation.
Work with associate
I met with Minjung, one of my team members. She was responsible for the procurement workstream and needed some help on her output.
Work on final review document
While each associate on the team was working on their own analysis, I had to pull together the pieces an engagement manager is typically responsible for. I wrote the summary and next steps for the client in the overall synthesis piece of the document. After that, I asked each team member to send me their latest version of the document so that I could consolidate it into one big document and distribute it to the whole team for the call the next day. While that sounds easy, it takes time, because I had to quickly see whether there were any missing pages, whether the sequence of pages was right, and whether findings were consistent between workstreams.
We had a team call so that the partners on the McKinsey team could provide input on the final presentation. Right after the call, the associates began working on the feedback to their pieces.
Call with engagement managers and partners
The team leaders continued with a separate call to talk about our communication strategy for the steering committee meeting. One team leader had a different idea for the structure of the document–to talk through the recommendation right from the beginning, quickly present the analyses backing it up, and then spend the second half of the meeting talking about how the client should carry out the implementation. After some discussion we agreed that his idea was good, because if we presented the analyses right at the beginning of the presentation that could create unnecessary argument over the details.
Work on document
Our decision to change the structure of the document didn’t have much of an implication on the associates on the team, but it had a huge implication on Josh and myself. We needed to work on the final section: the implementation, work plan, and timelines. Josh and I found an office with a whiteboard and drafted out the pages we needed. We sketched charts for the structure of the document and talked through the content we needed for each page of the chart. At the end, we divided the pages and began working on them.
Find McKinsey experts
Josh and I had agreed that I would work on the pages outlining the client’s program management office for effective implementation of the recommendations. I searched McKinsey knowledge databases to see if there were any McKinsey experts we could talk to or documents we could leverage. Luckily, there was a lot of firm knowledge around the topic. I sent a lot of e-mails to the experts in the U.S., Europe, and Asia to set up calls on short notice.
Meet with vice president of R&D
Sunny, the associate responsible for the quality management and product development workstreams, and I went to meet the client’s vice president of R&D. We discussed our latest findings to get his input on our presentation to the steering committee.
I always try to set aside about two hours a day just for myself, without a specific agenda, to go through my e-mails and think about any tasks I haven’t completed. I thought about the overall process of the project, how my team members were doing, and what support they might need.
Call with expert in Europe
I spoke with a McKinsey partner from Europe about designing a program management office for a large-scale implementation. The talk was very helpful, and I incorporated his input into the final progress review pages. At the end of the day, I reconsolidated the document and distributed it to the whole team.
Team status check
Even though there was no official team call scheduled, we did a final check-up on the steering committee document. After the call, the engagement director, Josh, and I each spent time alone going through the document for an hour or two. After that, everyone on the team, including the partners, met to talk about any final changes.
Work with associate
We decided to divide and conquer our work on the document. We each took one piece of it. I worked with Minjung to refine the recommendations for the purchasing workstreams. I provided very detailed input on how to revise her pages so that she could quickly finish her work in the afternoon.
Meet with client CEO
The CEO suddenly wanted to meet with me and the engagement director to talk about our recommendations. There was one recommendation about the global manufacturing footprint he didn’t really like, but our team firmly believed it was the right thing for the client to do. We debated for two hours. When we finished, we still didn’t agree on everything, but at least we understood each other’s viewpoints. We decided to position our findings a little differently so that everyone could appreciate our different opinions, as well as the various options the client had.
Work on document with partner
The engagement director and I talked through how to present the final set of recommendations in front of the client’s leadership team.
The three of us consolidated the document together with the team. By evening, we sent the document out to the members of the steering committee.
Agree on communication plan
We caught up as a team to discuss who would present what pages of the final review document and how to run the presentation. We discussed the game plan again for about 30 minutes in the morning, just before the steering committee meeting.
Steering committee meeting
The culmination of the week’s work! We had our steering committee meeting, which lasted two hours.
Meet with client leadership team
Josh, the partners on the McKinsey team, and I sat down with the client executive in charge of the overall project, as well as the two directors who were committing half their time to the project. We discussed how to follow up on some of the comments, input, and questions from the steering committee, as well as next steps for the McKinsey team and for the client’s team. For example, the client team needed to set up a program management office to begin implementing the final recommendations.
Team dinner and karaoke
After the final review, we were all feeling happy and ready to go have a team dinner and celebrate. In the late afternoon, we all went to a nice Korean barbecue restaurant and sang karaoke. I sang a Korean song–a happy, dancing-type of song.
*Seungheon is currently an Associate Principal