McKinsey’s Eroding Culture

Introduction to Consulting McKinsey’s Eroding Culture


In this podcast Michael and Tom discuss a significant and concerning change in the language McKinsey has started using in performance evaluations, and what it indicates for McKinsey and the firm’s future.

McKinsey have started using one new word in their recent performance reviews, which is quite concerning.

What is this one word?

It is a 3 letter word. Here is a clue. It has an O and N in it.

We discuss the word in the podcast. And this is happening across various offices.

The language you choose impacts everything you do. The language you choose determines the organization you are. The language you choose determines behaviour. There are very subtle things that define a culture for firms. Is this a sign of deteriorating culture?

mckinsey office forward operating base


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7 responses to McKinsey’s Eroding Culture

  1. HI Michael,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response on millennials. Agreed; wanting similar things, just different methods.


  2. Hi Corwin,

    Millennials are exactly the same as every other generation. They want the same things but just achieve it in different ways.


  3. Hi Corwin,

    We actually have a reputation for calling out mistakes at McKinsey et al. It is our style.


  4. Also; Love the piece on millennials. Clients get interested in work with me because I’m a “millennial” but I help them see that “millennials” are just 20-30yr olds. Then invite them to reflect on that decade for themselves. It always makes me smile. I do agree with the fact that they are more self aware and conscious than previous generations but that seems to be the pace of human evolution; except for when it’s not.

  5. Michael and Tom,

    Bold and Powerful podcast here. This is the first I’ve heard FC be less than complementary of MBB; however gives a bearing for how a firm can start with a vision and veer off track. To further pile on what Luke said; Martin Heidegger “Language is the house of the truth of Being.” Further it creates our world. Michael; any hypothesis why McKinsey has had such changes recently?


  6. Hello L,

    This is a great quote!


  7. Hi Michael,

    this is an interesting podcast and there are two things that I remember the most out of it. One is that language and subtleties can have a large impact on the values of a firm, and even the values of a person. It reminds me of this quote:
    “Watch your thoughts, they become words;
    watch your words, they become actions;
    watch your actions, they become habits;
    watch your habits, they become character;
    watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
    If you would like to read more about this quote and other relevant ones, please feel free to visit:

    The second is about the legacy of Cravath and their influence in Marvin Bower and Firmsconsulting. They do seem to hold many of the same values in building long term relationships without seeking short term profits.

    Best Regards,


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