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Take five—or fifty—minutes for the Quarterly’s new format

– The year was 1964 when Arch Patton, a former senior partner and prolific writer, established what would become one of today’s leading management-consulting publications—the McKinsey Quarterly. Born from the belief that publishing the right kind of articles was an effective way to help executives grapple with managerial challenges, the Quarterly started as a reprint vehicle before soon publishing daily and original pieces of McKinsey’s own insights and research. While much has changed from its early days, its intent to provide unbiased thought leadership to senior business leaders around the world still holds true.

In recent years, as the Quarterly’s content has evolved to keep up with the times so too has the way it’s delivered. We’ve seen that insights can only help our readers if they are packaged in a way that fits into their busy lives. And so we’ve continuously innovated our format—beginning in the late ‘90s with digitizing articles for the web, to growing our social media presence a few decades later (1.5 million LinkedIn followers today), followed by launching our Insights app for mobile, and bringing interviews to life through podcasts.

Last month, we introduced the newest iteration of the Quarterly—the Five Fifty. This weekly bite-sized, mobile-first digital briefing covers the business and management issues of the day—in two versions: a highly skimmable five-minute digest or a link to a deeper dive.

“To avoid becoming part of the digital noise, we wanted to create something new that would give time-starved readers a useful flash of insight when they are on-the-go, while also serving as a window into more in-depth content,” explains Allen Webb, editor in chief of the Quarterly. “We call it the Five Fifty,” he adds “because whether you’ve got time for a five-minute skim or a fifty-minute deep dive, you’re going to get a nice return on the attention you invest with us.”


Each edition addresses a different management theme, some topical, like digital reinvention, and others evergreen, such as performance evaluations. Lang Davison, executive editor of the Quarterly, curates a blend of proprietary McKinsey insights and relevant, externally sourced content, revealing new angles and interrelationships between them.

The Five Fifty was created with the needs of its management audience in mind. Knowing that business readers do a lot of skimming today to get to the crucial content, it offers a shortcut to do just that.

While it’s designed to feel engaging and fun, the Five Fifty still brings the same depth of knowledge and rigor for which the Quarterly has been known—for more than half a century. Its focus continues to be on getting our insights into the hands of busy executives with formats that fit their needs. To what extent will they share it? To what extent will they dive into the underlying content in addition to the Five Fifty itself?

Time will soon tell. Meanwhile, experience the Five Fifty for yourself here.