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McKinsey Organization Blog

Short and snackable insights on talent management, organizational design, agility, culture, change management, HR analytics and technology, leadership, and merger management from our experienced partners at the forefront of today’s trends.

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Evolving the talent pool at the speed of emerging technology

Through emerging tech such as digitization, automation and artificial intelligence, the future is certainly bright; productivity gains, speed and convenience, and a movement away from menial and dangerous jobs are all considered positive. Though if you ask many CEOs and HR leaders, they may say they feel blindsided by the downsides of these disruptive technologies. As these innovations are transforming the nature of work, millions will continue to be challenged to learn new skills and switch ...

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Maximizing behavioral change in leadership development programs

In our previous blog post, we outlined the importance of engaging a critical mass of pivotal influencers during leadership development programs to sustainably shift the leadership in the organization. How this critical mass is engaged, however, matters greatly. Unfortunately, a large number of organizations continue to emphasize classroom learning rather than on-the-job application and feedback, leading to little behavioral change and wasted resources. Instead, organizations should design ...

Inspiring individuals is the new competitive advantage

We’ve long known that the key to unlocking sustainable performance is not just to focus on results. Rather, lasting impact occurs when companies apply equal rigor and resources both to how they make money and how they run the place – something we refer to as performance and health. Companies with this dual focus outperform their peers on almost every financial indicator we’ve seen. However, given the challenges posed by today’s environment, we’re finding that ...

The importance of tailoring your operating model for the market – part two

Today’s heterogenous market landscape, defined by growing emerging markets and stagnant but significant mature markets, requires from consumer goods companies a more tailored approach to strategy and operating model than in past decades. The risks of not doing so in our increasingly granular, heterogeneous, uncertain and dynamic world span missed opportunities and talent loss to market irrelevance. As noted in the first post of this two-part series, this is often achieved through dual ...

The “how” in creating inclusive workplaces

A leading private equity firm was focused on improving its diversity for years, but was struggling to see results from its efforts. With a workforce consisting of less than 15 percent women and a small pipeline of female prospects in place, many leaders were worried about the numbers. This concern, however, did not obviously translate into dollars, and the HR leadership team was struggling to secure additional resources to address this issue. The firm was performing well and their diversity ...

The importance of tailoring your operating model for the market – part one

Management wisdom teaches us that structure must follow strategy. As a result, companies over decades have first designed their strategy and subsequently taken the operating model and organizational choices that best support it. Yet, in a world becoming more granular, heterogeneous, uncertain and dynamic across markets and regions, the strategic choices companies make have also become more fluid and more contextual to each specific market. For example, while consumer goods companies previously ...

What it really means to lead more effectively through empowerment

In our last blog post, “Busting a management myth: empowering employees doesn’t mean leaving them alone,” we discussed how leaders’ fundamental misunderstanding of “empowerment” often results in management styles that doesn’t deliver for managers, employees or the organization. What then does it mean to truly empower those you manage, and what actions can you take to drive results? Genuine empowerment requires leaders to be involved, to be of service, to ...

Busting a management myth: empowering employees doesn’t mean leaving them alone

Barbara is a BU leader overwhelmed by the amount of time she spends making decisions: hiring decisions for managers several levels below her, signoffs on small business expenses and minor changes to operating procedures. She never has time to think about strategic decisions. Barbara decided to be more adamant about delegating decisions to her direct reports. Within days, problems arose, and she thought some of the decisions made were not good ones. Sticking to her guns, she did not take back the ...

The ‘golden thread’ that connects all aspects of talent management

Talent is key for organizations to thrive and create value. As discussed in previous blog posts, companies with very effective talent management enjoy higher total returns to shareholders than less effective competitors do. With this in mind, the key question for organizations to tackle is, “How do we effectively manage and develop talent in order to have a strong pipeline of future leaders?” It all starts with strengthening the leadership model by defining and clearly communicating ...

Improve your leadership team’s effectiveness through key behaviors

Annual financial reports. Quarterly analyst statements. Acquisition and expansion plans. Such information is closely associated with a company’s performance and growth. As investors cast a wider net to gain a more accurate view of a company’s prospects, most realize they should also look closely at the management team. Leaders can make or break a company transformation. In fact, 33 percent of failed transformations occur because the leadership team’s behaviors did not ...

Nudge, don’t nag

In recent years, nudging has been hailed as the latest trend in HR and a novel, new scientific management approach. And for good reason: using nudges has improved everything from customer retention and employee safety to organizational commitment and innovation. When nudges are executed with care, they have remarkable results. However, in many cases there is a misconception about what a nudge actually is – organizations often launch initiatives that either miss the mark or are just ...

McKinsey Organization Blog: 100 posts and counting

When we launched the McKinsey Organization Blog two years ago, our goal was to share concise insights from our experienced partners at the forefront of today’s organizational trends. To date, we have published over 100 blog posts aimed to address leaders’ needs related to the topics of talent management, organizational design, agility, culture, change management, leadership, merger management and more. To mark this milestone, we’re looking back at 10 of the most popular posts ...

Reaching a tipping point in leadership development

Why do some ideas, products, and behaviors take hold and spread like wildfire, while others never catch on? A popular theory on change cites three factors – reaching the right people, a “sticky” message, and a conducive context – to reach a critical mass and tipping point where real change takes hold. Leadership development at scale – where the goal is to sustainably shift the behaviors of an organization across the board – requires a tipping point for new ...

Rethinking the boundaries of your organizational (eco)system

For most organizations, the clear boundaries of who is “in” and who is not are becoming blurred, and what seemed like bright line differences are now becoming like concentric circles, where the types of people and organizations working together to create value vary widely, and system participants exist along a spectrum. Consider some vendors in a value chain ecosystem who - in every other way but being on a company’s payroll - act like employees. Are they part of the ...

Employee motivation in the age of automation and agility

There is a lot written about automation these days and some of it can be daunting. From fear of robots taking over our lives, to automation being a threat to jobs, AI is creating impenetrable skills gaps and employee resistance to change. We have a more optimistic view on the age of automation. First, we believe there will be more than enough work to go around. Our research shows jobs gained and changed by several automation and labor trends will outweigh jobs lost in the 2016-2030 period. ...