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Ranking and comparing CEO performance of the 6 most prominent strategy consulting firms using a cumulative partner feedback assessment which updates weekly.

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We need to make more purposeful and calibrated investment decisions. Bechek may not be the right person to make these calls. Bain Partner

There is a myth that we, McKinsey, are now showing teeth in adherence to our values. It was always this way, especially under Bower. We have this touchy and warm view of the past that is false. Things got softer at the firm recently and we are moving back to the way we where. The difference is that the media is reporting it. McKinsey Partner

I wish we would be more focused on the emerging markets beyond a few pockets in Latin America and India. Deloitte S&O Principal

I do not know Bechek very well. Bain does feel like it is on the path for amazing changes. Bain Partner

We need a bigger investment in Asia. More senior support and more training. Lesser is doing a lot but Asia needs to become a bigger focus. BCG Partner

Not everyone supported the sale and a majority is not always right. Mainardi should have fought harder for independence. We will not survive as a small part of PwC. PwC Strategy & Partner

Dominic has the moral authority to guide McKinsey. He is doing it in an inclusive way. He is creative, ambitious and innovative. He is preparing the groundwork for a better McKinsey and we will see the results in a few years. McKinsey Partner

Deloitte S&O has a bright future. There are challenges and obstacles but we continue growing from strength to strength. That makes me optimistic about the future of strategy at Deloitte. Deloitte S&O Principal

There is a sense of purpose, energy and enthusiasm at Bain. How many firms can say this? Bain Partner

We need to make a stronger push into implementation and Lesser's stance on this is not always consistent. BCG Partner

We need more support from PwC. They have been great so far but we need sustained investments. I personally supported the acquisition and feel Mainardi is doing enough. The partners of Booz must make the implementation work. Mainardi can only do so much. PwC Strategy & Partner

He seems to have a great vision, I believe he can execute it and will support him to the best of my abilities. This is the general mood of the firm. There is energy and purpose. People are excited. Roland Berger Partner

Airing disagreements with the European partners in the New York Times is not the the way of the Firm and it is certainly not the way the managing partner should act. McKinsey Partner

Canning is an able leader. He lets the practices set and execute their plans with the right level of support. The results speak for themselves. Deloitte S&O Principal

Bain is on course for big things in Asia. Watch this space. Bain Partner

Good ideas. Good vision. Good support. Let us see what happens. BCG Partner

The acquisition has been less than perfect. We have lost clients and it is tough. We hope the changes work out in the end. I hope they do. I am staying to see it through. PwC Strategy & Partner

This is a new Roland Berger, taking the best of the firm and adding it to where Bouee is taking us. The fact that a French partner was voted CEO of a German firm demonstrates how far the firm has come and where it is going. This is a great place to be. Roland Berger Partner

We are moving far from our mentorship style of grooming consultants on ethics to forcing them to use online compliance tools. McKinsey Partner

Deloitte S&O remains incredibly underrated. We continue growing in every direction, have outlasted Monitor & Booz, and will probably outlast AT Kearney. We have no intention of outlasting McKinsey. We want them to exist as we overtake them. Deloitte S&O Principal

Great leader. Highly respected. Bain Partner

Lesser is a well regarded and highly accomplished leader. The firm is fortunate to have him. BCG Partner

Mainardi played the best hand he could. Booz & Co. is stronger through our alliance with PwC. We can do big things together and time will prove us right. PwC Strategy & Partner

Bouée is the right leader for Roland Berger at the right time. Roland Berger Partner

We stopped being a global partnership a long time ago. Offices no longer work fluidly in trusting and using consultants from across offices. A lot of the things you read about McKinsey are, to me anyway, legacy stories which have no grounding in fact. This is one reason I am leaving the Firm. McKinsey Partner

The article paints the changes as solely an initiative of Dominic’s. That is not true. This is widely supported at the Firm and Dominic is only the face of the changes. You could just as easily put my picture up there in that article. McKinsey Partner

Footnotes

‘0’ implies there is no support for the CEO and ‘100’ implies there is complete support for the CEO.

Ranking data is calculated from a sample of a minimum of 10 different partner questionnaire responses per CEO per firm. For the CEO ranking to be updated, there must be >10 valid questionnaire responses and each must be < 3 months old. As soon as a response ages past 3 months, it is removed from the sample, and if the resulting sample for that CEO contains <10 questionnaire responses, no ranking will be shown for the CEO in that week. That ranking will reactivate if a new response is submitted or the old response is updated, resulting in >10 responses.

Although the minimum required partner responses are 10, all firms have significantly more submissions with a range of 37 to 154 partners submitting feedback.

A ranking could change if an older response is removed from the sample, provided the overall sample size does not drop below 10.

50% of BCG, Bain and McKinsey feedback are from partners in offices outside the USA. Cesare Mainardi and Burkhard Schwenker are primarily ranked on international partner feedback with no one country providing more than 20% of the responses.

Rankings for Charles-Edouard Bouee prior to 1 July 2014 reflect the ratings for Burkhard Schwenker. Bouee succeeded Schwenker on 28 June 2014.

Michael Canning is the US Leader for Deloitte S&O and his feedback is only from US Deloitte S&O partners and, therefore, not a reflection of Deloitte S&O outside the US.

Firmsconsulting does not alter the rankings. We only collect the feedback, ensure eligibility and tabulate the rankings.

Comments

18 responses to Consulting Rankings McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Deloitte S&O CEOs

  1. Thanks Eric. We will look at this.

  2. Michael,

    Thanks for your response and I look forward to the article. For reference, the source of the single ballot comment is the third paragraph of this piece http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2015/02/02/head-of-mckinsey-is-elected-to-a-third-term/?_r=0

    Eric

  3. Hi Eric,

    I did not know he was voted in by a single ballot? McKinsey does not release that information to the public or even former partners. I know his margin was small, but I cannot concur if it was a single ballot.

    This is a great question for a complete article and we will work on something.

    Michael

  4. Michael,

    Could you offer some insight on the recent re-election of Dominic Barton to a third term? Apparently it took only a single ballot, which seems somewhat of a surprise given how precipitously his ratings dropped in Jan 2014. Are there certain idiosyncrasies to McKinsey’s elections that one would need to understand to make sense of what happened?

    Eric

  5. Dear Readers,

    You can see some pretty big swings in the rankings a week after we released the rankings to the public. In particular, more PwC, Deloitte S&O and BCG partners have participated.

    Canning performance starts to drop since the NYC partners who heavily voted him up 3 months ago are starting to see their feedback expire and removed from the rankings. We also saw a spike in feedback from outside the Tri-State area and his feedback has not been very strong in those areas.

    Mainardi has seen a bump but we doubt this is a new upward trend. The integration will only look worse and worse over time and we expect him to maintain very low ratings. Sadly, he is mostly a victim of the circumstances of the merger.

    Michael

  6. Hi Aylwin,

    Thanks for this. We will definitely look at the hopping problem today!

    Michael

  7. Hi Michael.

    While reading the comments in the CEO rankings on mobile device, the page “hops”. This is due to the box that displays the quotes. Once the quote is in two sentence from one, the box extends. Than when it returns to one line, the box resize to a smaller box. So when reading comments, we get this “hopping” experience while reading.

  8. Hi Aylwin,

    Yes, several firms are aware of the rankings and their CEO’s do follow them. We will publish editorials on the most interesting responses from the CEOs.

    Michael

  9. Hi Michael

    Would the CEOs of these firms following this rankings?

  10. Dear readers,

    We will post interesting comments and observations here.

    Close to 80% of Roland Berger partners participated in the voting for Charles-Edouard Bouee. Therefore, it is impossible for there to be a large enough percentage of Roland Berger partners who did not vote, and chose to vote in the next few days to meaningfully swing the percentage up or down by more than just a few percentage points. That means Bouee is going to keep his high score for at least 3 months which is the duration over which a questionnaire is valid.

    Therefore, the only way to beat him, is if more partners from BCG voted Lesser higher. Bain and McKinsey show a far too fractured partnership from the comments submitted to indicate their CEOs will beat either Lesser or Bouee. Therefore, this is really Roland Berger’s to lose since everything is in their hands. We are going to be canvassing more BCG European partners to vote in the next few weeks so we will see a broader representation for Lesser.

    As always, feel free to post any comments here and we will respond.

    Michael

  11. Hi Tony,

    Thanks for your question and continued contribution to the community. I think there are many important insights here and have listed some below:

    1 – The Halo effect makes us assume that because Bain, BCG and McKinsey are widely regarded as the best generalist firms, their CEOs would be highly rated. That is not the case at all. This is because the CEOs of these firms are rated by their peers within the firm and those peers are not in awe of the CEO as much as an external people. In other words, many external people are impressed with the firms and simply assume the CEO must be the best.

    This distinction is important since we are collecting the thoughts of fellow partners who have an intimate knowledge of the CEO, versus a junior or external person who only knows what he/she is being told.

    As we can see, a weak CEO can lead a great firm just as a great CEO can lead a weaker firm.

    2 – You will never find the perspective of partners anywhere else. This makes the rankings unique. Blog, other rankings etc., are all heavily controlled by the marketing machines of the firms or feedback from junior consultants. Junior consultants are always in awe of a firm and CEO, and tend to make their decisions based on what they think the ranking should be, versus what is actually happening at the firm. So these rankings provide an almost behind-the-scenes internal perspective.

    3 – Bob Bechek’s ranking initially surprised us. The firm is overly zealous in promoting its culture and unified attitude. The partners do not seem to think that uniformly of Bechek. His performance his good but nowhere near to what Bain would have us believe. Either Bechek is not such a great CEO or Bain really hypes up their team work culture in recruiting and the consultant levels. We think it is the latter.

    4 – Bouee of Roland Berger is an anomaly, and not because of his ranking. It is because of the way the ranking was done. We will write more about this later since the mechanics of how that ranking was done shows us how popular Bouee really is. Yes, he received a swinging endorsement, but the steps leading into our survey are very telling in themselves. It is a pretty remarkable achievement.

    5 – Lesser’s performance is very consistent. There are no steep troughs or dips which indicates his feedback is fairly consistent between offices and time periods for the rankings. It is also indicates the firm is probably doing well and Lesser is not making radical shifts to his plans. This is again a sign that his plans are working which allows him to stay the course. Lesser is widely considered one of the most hands-off CEOs polled so it will be interesting to see how he reacts in a crises. Would he continue to rank as highly?

    6 – Barton’s performance is interesting. The steep dip in January was driven by that terrible breach of values when Barton called out his European partners in the New York Times. At the time, we said it was a terrible thing to do and most McKinsey partners agree. Barton has not yet recovered from his highs before the NY Times article and it will take him years to erase that bad blood.

    7 – As mentioned below, Mainardi just happens to be the CEO of Strategy& when morale is down and I think that no matter what he does, he will be associated with the sale of the firm and always ranked poorly by his partners. Unless, of course, the merger goes so well that the partners forget about the sale, which is completely unlikely.

    8 – Finally, Canning is just a ranking for the major US offices. This rating would drop substantially for Deloitte S&O if we included the Global S&O Leader and polled the global S&O offices. So keep that in mind when comparing Canning to the rest. He is only being polled on US partners and it is not a direct comparison. In fact, within the US only principals (equity partners) from a few major offices are contributing to this poll. Even within the US, this ranking will likely drop if partners from the smaller offices began submitting feedback.

    That said, Canning can play a critical role. He is responsible for the largest part of the Deloitte S&O federation of practices. What he does matters and his high standing among his fellow partners means he has earned the credit to implement the massive laundry list of changes needed to improve Deloitte. He cannot do them all in the time he has left, but he can get them started. We cover this in his editorial which you can read by clicking on his portrait above. That said, even if he implements 90% of them, the fact that consulting sits within an audit business AND because all the global partnerships are separate legal entities implies those structural deficiencies will always lead to Deloitte S&O never quite catching up to the major firms.

    So in this case, structure, and not the CEO is holding back the firm. There is only so much Canning can do.

    These are some of the key insights.

    Michael

  12. Hello Michael,

    Thank you for taking initiative to lead the research for this ranking. It’s very interesting for us to listen to feedback of insiders.
    From your perspective on leading this research, what are your expectations or key takeaways you hope us as students who are interested in consulting or current consultant to get out from it? I think I have a rough idea for it, but it would be great to listen from you directly.

  13. Hi Mat,

    The idea of sharing the breakdown of the weekly scoring is something we had not considered. It is ivery interesting and we will think about it more.

    Thank you for this excellent suggestion.

    Michael

  14. This is a terrific idea. I especially like the quotes from partners, they add relevance.

    I have another idea, following the questions asked in the questionnaire for partners. Why not to see also answers to a specific question, by CEO, by month? We would find it useful if we could see not only the overall ranking of CEOs, but for example who is best rated by his partners on having the clearest strategy, or how many partners a month support strategy or thinks there are enough resources to support it.

    Mateusz

  15. Hi SG,

    You are absolutely correct. The Deloitte S&O rankings for Michael Canning are inflated since we are picking their strongest national practice to rank.

    The problem with Deloitte is that it is a federation of very different practices which look like completely different organizations between some countries.

    In fact, it is very difficult for us to actually know where Deloitte S&O has teams. Do they have teams in Singapore, Astana, Santiago, Lima, Bogota, Cape Town, Shanghai? There is no universal list for this even at Deloitte. Yes, Deloitte can probably provide list for their major offices, but even then, each office would have a different definition of what constitutes S&O.

    So rather than go through all this effort we decided just to focus on the US. It is a nightmare to reconcile this internationally.

    I hope that answers your question.

    Michael

  16. Very, very cool.

    Why don’t you rank Deloitte S&O internationally? It seems they are getting a pass. Their practice in Singapore is pretty non-existent so these rankings seem inflated if you only include the US. You are picking the best practice, I guess, on which to rank them.

    SG

  17. Hi Nauruz,

    Thank you. We will hopefully be able to track sentiment at the firms fairly accurately with this approach.

    The written feedback on Mainardi tells a story that is quite different from his ranking. He is popular and he is respected. What we have here is a negative halo effect. No matter what Mainardi does, the turmoil of the integration with PwC is creating this negative sentiment and he is the recipient of that negativity.

    For example, what if we had asked the following question:

    Do you hold Cesare Mainardi or Shumeet Banerji responsible for the position Booz now finds itself in?

    I think in this case, the former Booz partners would have had an outlet for their negative feelings by voting down Banerjee and Mainardi would be quite highly ranked. This is a little bit of sellers remorse and it is easier to blame Mainardi. Any CEO leading Strategy& in this time would be ranked poorly. That is our take on the feedback.

    Mainardi took the best path he could with what he had and he is unfortunately the lightning pole for criticism.

    So the timing is playing a big role.

    We can see that timing effect in Charles-Eduoard Bouee as well. He is only releasing his strategy in December 2014 so all the positive feedback he is receiving is partly driven by the expectation of a good strategy versus any actual strategy to rank. That is not to say he will not rank highly in January 2015. We cannot know. It is just that he is now somewhat benefiting from a honeymoon period.

    Moreover, partners outside the US feel a little shortchanged by the deal. They are letting that be known in the ranking. As more US partners see this ranking and contribute, we expect Mainardi to improve a little, but not by much.

    Imagine what would happen to the Deloitte S&O ranking if we allowed the foreign practices to participate in the ranking? There would be a steep drop.

    So the location of partners providing feedback plays a role.

    I hope that helps.

    Michael

  18. Such an excellent initiative – to rank CEOs and present it on one page with live updates.

    Cesare seems to have dropped gradually and steadily. Michael, would you say the drop was predetermined to happen the moment the acquisition was made, or was it really post acquisition activities of Cesare that lead to the drop?

    Thank you,

    Nauruz

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