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Design does exist at McKinsey

Read more about: Innovation | Digital

– Suffering from “shiny object syndrome” comes in handy at McKinsey.

I worked in an advertising agency for the first time in 1992. I was only 14 years old but I knew this was what I want to do for the rest of my life. It wasn’t about just advertising; it was about telling stories to entertain people. I always loved listening to stories and making up my own.

Hats I wore before McKinsey

Since my first internship 25 years ago, I’ve worn many storytelling hats. I created social media campaigns, designed user interfaces, sketched wireframes, illustrated storyboards for commercials, did some copywriting, shot a 360° short film (before there were 360° cameras) and built a tiny cinema for it, and did some front end development. I even worked one summer as a Jägermeister mascot.

Starting a new story

Two years ago, a good friend of mine asked if I would like to join the McKinsey team. To be honest, I couldn’t imagine what McKinsey would have to do with design. I thought consultants wore suits and put together PowerPoint presentations; I didn’t think they had any creativity in their bones. But, since my friend is a very good designer, I was curious.

Since I joined McKinsey Digital Labs, not a day has passed when I haven’t enjoyed being part of a team that is creative, celebrates diversity and takes care of each other. We have designers, agile coaches, developers, industry experts, and generalist consultants. We all look different and come from many different backgrounds. We all bring interesting perspectives. I never wear a suit and I don’t hide my tattoos. But I work quite well with others in suits as we design the best experience for the customers of our clients.

Malcolm inline 2

My favourite McKinsey memory – no PowerPoint needed

One of my favorite memories is of a study I did in Hamburg. I joined a team of consultants who had worked with the client for a couple of months. It was hard to tell who were the clients and who were my colleagues because everyone was excitedly chatting and laughing in different offices when I arrived.

The most memorable part of the study wasn’t the karaoke sessions, vivacious team dinners, or marathon training runs. It was when the engagement manager stripped during a presentation. Usually, near the start of an engagement, we outline the process we will take on a bunch of PowerPoint slides. Not with the associate partner on this team. Apparently, last time he was working with this client, he rapped the process to make it more entertaining. This time, he wanted to surpass his last performance, so he asked me to “tattoo” the process onto our engagement manager. I illustrated our planned activities and the proposed user journeys on a skin toned bodysuit the engagement manager revealed piece by piece while the associate partner presented our work. The moral if this story: you don’t have to show 200 slides full of numbers and charts to deliver a message.

In the last two years at McKinsey, I have been able to use my shiny object syndrome for something useful. Now I not only tell chapters but shape whole stories by designing experiences for humans (and animals sometimes). That’s been the biggest, most exciting part of my McKinsey.

More about Malcolm

Malcolm (on the left) is a design lead for McKinsey Digital Labs. He is based in Berlin, loves hiking and rides his bike every free minute he has. He is addicted to cupcakes, fluffy animal videos and audio books.

Find roles like Malcolm’s click here.

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