hile there are a lot of books on strategy consulting, not all of them are good. A few do a great job of giving you a working knowledge of this profession while some offer little to no insight at all. If you’re considering a career in strategy consulting or want to better understand what it means to be a consultant, these books are for you. With the help of these best books on strategy consulting, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not this is the right career track for you. If not, that’s fine! There are many other exciting careers out there waiting for you.
Best Books on Strategy Consulting: THE LIST
1. The McKinsey Way | By Ethan Rasiel
It’s been called “a breeding ground for gurus.” McKinsey & Company is the gold-standard consulting firm whose alumni include titans such as “In Search of Excellence” author Tom Peters, Harvey Golub of American Express, and Japan’s Kenichi Ohmae.
When Fortune 100 corporations are stymied, it’s the “McKinsey-its” whom they call for help. In THE MCKINSEY WAY, former McKinsey associate Ethan Rasiel lifts the veil to show you how the secretive McKinsey works its magic and helps you emulate the firm’s well-honed practices in problem-solving, communication, and management.
He shows you how McKinsey-ites think about business problems and how they work at solving them, explaining the way McKinsey approaches every aspect of a task:
How McKinsey recruits and molds its elite consultants;
How to “sell without selling”;
How to use facts, not fear them;
Techniques to jump-start research and make brainstorming more productive;
How to build and keep a team at the top it’s game;
Powerful presentation methods, including the famous waterfall chart, are rarely seen outside McKinsey;
How to get ultimate “buy-in” to your findings;
Survival tips for working in high-pressure organizations.
Both a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most admired and secretive companies in the business world and a toolkit of problem-solving techniques without peers, THE MCKINSEY WAY is fascinating reading that empowers every business decision maker to become a better strategic player in any organization.
2. Flawless Consulting | By Peter Block
When the landmark best-seller Flawless Consulting was first published more than three decades ago, it was quickly adopted as the “consultant’s bible.” With his legendary warmth and passion, Peter Block explained how to deal effectively with clients, peers, and others. The book continues to speak to people in a support function inside organizations as well as to external consultants.
This thoroughly revised and updated third edition of Peter Block’s groundbreaking book explores the latest thinking on consultation. It includes new insights about how we can organize our consulting around discovering the strengths, positive examples, and gifts of the client organization or community. The book remains a practical and specific guide for anyone who needs to develop a capacity for deeper relatedness and partnership – which means it is for all who wish to make a real difference in the world.
This new edition covers the consulting challenges that have arisen from the way we routinely communicate electronically and live in the virtual world. Block suggests ways to overcome the distancing and isolating effects inherent in electronic connections. The book also includes practical guidance on how to ask better questions, gives suggestions for dealing with difficult clients, and contains expanded guidelines on more engaging forms of implementation.
Flawless Consulting includes two new examples, taken from health care and educational reform efforts, to show how consulting skills can be useful (and often transformative) in a broader context. These illustrative examples point the way for achieving changes for leadership in business, government, religion, human services, and more. Like the first two editions, Flawless Consulting affirms the notion that authentic behavior and personal relationships are the keys to technical and business success. By demonstrating their ability to be truly authentic at each step in the process, consultants can aim toward creating workplaces that are more collaborative and ultimately more successful.
3. The Trusted Advisor | By David Maister
This is a guide to professional success. In the modern world of business, it’s all about the ability to earn the client’s trust and thereby win the ability to influence them. In these high-risk times, trust is more valuable than gold. This detailed resource book provides readers with the five crucial steps they need for developing, managing, and improving client confidence.
4. The McKinsey Mind | By Ethan Rasiel
5. The Pyramid Principle | By Barbara Minto
How many times have you written an email at work, read it back, and found that it didn’t make as much sense as you’d hoped? or worse, someone else has told you that they can’t follow it. The Pyramid Principle will show you how to communicate your ideas clearly and succinctly. Barbara Minto reveals that the mind automatically sorts information into distinctive pyramidal groupings. However, if any group of ideas is arranged into a pyramid structure in the first place, not only will it save valuable time and effort to write, it will take even less effort to read and comprehend it. The Pyramid Principle explains how to: • think creatively, reason lucidly, and express ideas with clarity • define complex problems and establish the objectives of any document • assess your ideas and recognize their relative importance • structure your reasoning into a coherent and transparent argument • analyze your argument to confirm its effectiveness. The clear communication of ideas, whether to clients, colleagues, or the management board, is a key factor in determining personal success. Applying the Pyramid Principle will enable you to present your thinking so clearly that the ideas move off the page and into the reader’s mind with a minimum of effort and a maximum effect. Bring your ideas to life!
6. The Lords of Strategy | By Walter Kiechel
Imagine running a business without a strategy. It would be akin to driving blindfolded, to building a house without a blueprint. Yet just 50 years ago, business “plans” were mere extrapolations of the status quo, heedless of the forces that determine the fate of today’s organizations: competitive threats, customer needs, and business costs. The concept of strategy changed all that, paving the way for the creation of the modern corporate world.
The Lords of Strategy recounts the birth and evolution of strategy — arguably the most influential business paradigm of the past half-century — and the trials and triumphs of the surprising disruptors who invented it. Principal among them were four men: Bruce Henderson, found of the Boston Consulting Group; Bill Bain, creator of Bain & Company; Fred Gluck, longtime managing director of McKinsey & Company; and Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. Each was obsessed with pinpointing how companies achieve a competitive advantage over others. This insider account reveals these industry’s pioneers as “idea junkies” – a new breed of intellectuals who wielded concepts as weapons for fighting business battles. Their relentless efforts to plumb the depths of competition exploded much of the prevailing wisdom, galvanized executives into action, and forced companies to understand themselves as never before.
An important book by one of management’s keenest observers, The Lords of Strategy provides listeners with a deeper understanding of the world they compete in and a sharper eye for what works — and what doesn’t — when forging strategy.
7. Case Interview Secrets | By Victor Cheng
In Case of Interview Secrets, you’ll discover step-by-step instructions on how to dominate what many consider to be the most complex, most difficult, and most intimidating corporate job interview in the world—the infamous case interview. Victor Cheng, a former McKinsey management consultant, reveals his proven, insider’s method for acing the case interview. Having personally secured job offers from McKinsey, Bain & Company, Monitor, L.E.K, Oliver Wyman, and A.T. Kearney, he has also been a McKinsey case interviewer—providing you with a hands-on, real-world perspective on what it really takes to land job offers.
Cheng’s protégées work in all the major strategy management consulting firms, including McKinsey, The Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, Monitor Company, A.T. Kearny, Oliver Wyman, L.E.K, Roland Berger, Accenture, and Deloitte, as well as in the strategic planning departments of numerous Fortune 500 companies. Whether you’re an undergraduate, MBA, Ph.D., or experienced-hire applicant candidate, you’ll discover:
- What case interviewers really say about you behind closed doors but wouldn’t dare tell you—until now
- The subtle yet specific performance differences that separate those who get management consulting offers from those who don’t
- The 10 biggest mistakes candidates make in case interviews (and how to avoid them)
- The 3 specific things interviewers expect in the first 5 minutes of a case that often decide the outcome on the spot
- An insider’s take on what interviewers really look for and why—and how to give them what they want
8. Million Dollar Consulting Toolkit | By Alan Weiss
The practical toolbox for readers of Million Dollar Consulting
This useful guide provides specific checklists, guidelines, templates, and actual examples for every step of the consulting process. It covers marketing, sales, meetings, implementation, follow-up, invoicing, practice management, insurance, equipment, subcontracting, and scores of other elements. Thousands of people have bought Weiss’s Million Dollar Consulting and started their own consultancy. Now, this handy resource goes hand-in-hand to provide all the tools new consultants need to enact all the recommendations and ideas in Million Dollar Consulting.
9. Case in Point | By Marc Patrick
The Wall Street Journal calls Case in Point the MBA Bible! The world’s foremost authority on case interviewing and bestselling author Marc Cosentino demystifies the case interview process, which is not only used for recruiting in consulting but also in private equity, strategic planning, marketing, logistic, operations, and human capital. He takes you inside a typical interview by exploring the various types of case questions, and he shares with you the acclaimed Ivy Case System. It will give you the confidence to answer even the most sophisticated cases. Now in its eleventh edition, Case in Point is the most current and up-to-date book on the subject and reflects all the latest changes in the case interview process —with plenty of graphs and lessons built in. The book includes dozens of strategy cases, with case starts exercises, 21 ways to cut costs, and much more. Case in Point11 helps you build your case cred from start to finish.
10. The Back of the Napkin | By Dan Roam
The acclaimed bestseller about visual problem solving-now bigger and better
“There is no more powerful way to prove that we know something well than to draw a simple picture of it. And there is no more powerful way to see hidden solutions than to pick up a pen and draw out the pieces of our problem.”
So writes Dan Roam in The Back of the Napkin, the international bestseller that proves that a simple drawing on a humble napkin can be more powerful than the slickest PowerPoint presentation. Drawing on twenty years of experience and the latest discoveries in vision science, Roam teaches readers how to clarify any problem or sell any idea using a simple set of tools.
He reveals that everyone is born with a talent for visual thinking, even those who swear they can’t draw. And he shows how thinking with pictures can help you discover and develop new ideas, solve problems in unexpected ways, and dramatically improve your ability to share your insights.
Take Herb Kelleher and Rollin King, who figured out how to beat the traditional hub-and-spoke airlines with a bar napkin and a pen. Three dots represent Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Three arrows to show direct flights. Problem solved, and the picture made it easy to sell Southwest Airlines to investors and customers.
Now with more color, bigger pictures, and additional content, this new edition does an even better job of helping you literally see the world in a new way. Join the teachers, project managers, doctors, engineers, assembly-line workers, pilots, football coaches, marine drill instructors, financial analysts, students, parents, and lawyers who have discovered the power of solving problems with pictures.
11. The Boston Consulting Group on Strategy
A collection of the best thinking from one of the most innovative management consulting firms in the world…
For more than 40 years, The Boston Consulting Group has been shaping strategic thinking in business. The Boston Consulting Group on Strategy offers a broad and up-to-date selection of the firm’s best ideas on strategy with fresh ideas, insights, and practical lessons for managers, executives, and entrepreneurs in every industry. Here’s a sampling of the provocative thinking you’ll find inside:
- “You have to be the scientist of your own life and be astonished four times: at what is, what always has been, what once was, and what could be.”
- “The majority of products in most companies are cash traps…. [They] are not only worthless but a perpetual drain on corporate resources.”
- “Use more debt than your competition or get out of the business.”
- “When information flows freely, reputation, more than reciprocity, becomes the basis for trust.”
- “As a strategic weapon, time is the equivalent of money, productivity, quality, even innovation.”
- “When brands become business systems, brand management becomes far too important to leave to the marketing department.”
- “The winning organization of the future will look more like a collection of jazz ensembles than a symphony orchestra.”
- “Most of our organizations today derive from a model whose original purpose was to control creativity.”
- “Rather than being an obstacle, uncertainty is the very engine of transformation in a business, a continuous source of new opportunities.”
- “IP assets lack clear property lines. Every bit of intellectual property you can own comes with connections to other valuable innovations.”
12. Good to Great | By Jim Collins
Built to Last, the defining management study of the ’90s, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.
But what about companies that are not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? Are there those that convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? If so, what are the distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
Over five years, Jim Collins and his research team have analyzed the histories of 28 companies, discovering why some companies make the leap and others don’t. The findings include:
- Level 5 Leadership: A surprising style, required for greatness
- The Hedgehog Concept: Finding your three circles, to transcend the curse of competence
- A Culture of Discipline: The alchemy of great results
- Technology Accelerators: How good-to-great companies think differently about technology
- The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Why those who do frequent restructuring fail to make the leap
13. Built to Last | By Jim Collins
Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took 18 truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day – as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies, and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?”
Filled with hundreds of specific examples and organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, Built to Last provides a master blueprint for building organizations that will prosper long into the 21st century and beyond.
14. Managing the Professional Service Firm | By David Maister
Professional firms differ from other business enterprises in two distinct ways: first, they provide highly customized services and thus cannot apply many of the management principles developed for product-based industries. Second, professional services are highly personalized, involving the skills of individuals. Such firms must therefore compete not only for clients but also for talented professionals.
Drawing on more than ten years of research and consulting to these unique and creative companies, David Maister explores issues ranging from marketing and business development to multinational strategies, human resources policies to profit improvement, strategic planning to effective leadership. While these issues can be complex, Maister simplifies them by recognizing that “every professional service firm in the world, regardless of size, specific profession, or country of operation, has the same mission statement: outstanding service to clients, satisfying careers for its people, and financial success for its owners.”
15. The Strategy Journal | By Kris Safarova
You need to solve a critical business problem. What if you had one tool that you could carry into meetings and write inside that guide you step-by-step to understand the problem, develop a structure, develop hypotheses, design the tests for the hypotheses, track your daily and weekly tasks, plan the message for your team and manager, manage the project, guide you through critical update meetings, calculate the benefits case to convince your colleagues and start the pilot implementation of your recommendations? Now you do. The Strategy Journal is the field guide to our popular book Succeeding as a Management Consultant. This Journal helps readers walk into any situation in any organization anywhere in the world and solve their most pressing business problems via to-do list prompts, self-assessments, and strategy calendars. All based on the combined best-practices of the author and the ex-McKinsey, BCG et al. partners who produce all the strategy training programs on StrategyTraining.com.On StrategyTraining.com / FIRMSconsulting.com you have seen us over the last 10 years helping numerous clients solve complex business problems: restructure a utility, merge tech giants, help a bank enter the US Market, rebuild an innovation division, build an electric car business, build a luxury brands business, build a mining company and more. The Strategy Journal was used by many of our very successful clients and summarizes the approach we used to help them increase their productivity, transform their careers, set daunting career goals, outperform peers, and measure the value they create. Through daily and weekly prompts, to-do list guides, client reminders, end-of-day scorecards, templates, completed examples, checklists, and reminders, the Journal takes the best practices from ex-McKinsey, BCG et al., partners, and our most successful clients, to help you solve mankind’s most pressing problems. The Journal helps you learn the routine to solve strategy and business problems like a partner. As you follow the guide, you will learn the habits of the highest-performing strategy thinkers. The Journal teaches you how to be a balanced and successful professional with a strong ethical compass. The heart of this Journal revolves around the pages to plan your study: from clarifying the problem statement all the way to developing the presentation and quantifying the benefits case in $. The Journal is divided into 3 parts: Overview, Guided Example, and Your Study. The OVERVIEW offers you a 1-page guide to the entire process we will use to create a highly customized solution for your client. In the GUIDED EXAMPLE, we will work together through a study/project to show you how each page will be used. Thereafter, we create daily/weekly templates and guides for you to use in YOUR STUDY. Clients who have used the Journal report: A sense of purpose rapid promotions career fulfillmentHappier colleagues improved skills increased productivity increased focus client success there ARE 16 TYPES OF PAGES IN THIS WORKBOOK: Project Logic and OverviewDecision-Tree of OptionsHypotheses & Hypotheses TestsStoryboardingCharterTimelineProject Update ReportFocus InterviewsExecutive Update GuideFinancial AnalysesBenchmarksCase StudiesProject ChecklistOpportunity ChartBenefits ChartDaily PagesThe Journal summarizes the most important things you need to do and eliminates all the noise from the process. The greatest value of a Journal is that you write in them. They are not typically published in digital format. We published the digital edition of The Strategy Journal for those clients who found great value in having a reference version with them at all times. The digital format is therefore best purchased along with the print version. The digital format is not intended to be a substitute for the print format.
16. Blue Ocean Strategy | By W. Chan Kim
In this perennial bestseller, embraced by organizations and industries worldwide, globally preeminent management thinkers W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne challenge everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success. Recognized as one of the most iconic and impactful strategy books ever written, Blue Ocean Strategy, now updated with fresh content from the authors, argues that cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans” – untapped new market spaces ripe for growth.
Blue Ocean Strategy presents a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant and outlines principles and tools any organization can use to create and capture their own blue oceans. This expanded edition includes a new preface by the authors: “Help! My Ocean Is Turning Red”; updates on all cases and examples in the book; and two new chapters and an expanded third one – “Alignment, Renewal, and Red Ocean Traps” – that address some of the most pressing questions listeners and readers have asked over the years.
17. Getting Started in Consulting | By Alan Weiss
Getting Started in Consulting, Fourth Edition is the acclaimed real-world blueprint to professional and financial freedom. For nearly two decades, this invaluable resource has helped thousands of people quit the daily grind and become their own bosses. This practical and motivational guide provides the tools and knowledge to control your future and secure your fortune. From establishing goals and sorting out the legal and financial paperwork to advanced marketing strategies and relationship-building techniques, this indispensable book offers step-by-step instructions for you to establish and grow your own consultancy business. This extensively revised and updated fourth edition includes new and expanded coverage on topics including utilizing informal media, changes in legal and financial guidelines, key distinctions of wholesale and retail businesses, and much more.
Author Alan Weiss delivers expert advice on how to combine minimal overhead with the optimal organization to produce maximum income. Every step in the process is clearly explained, including financing, marketing, bookkeeping, establishing your fees, and more. This guide is a comprehensive, one-stop source for everything you need to prosper in the rapidly expanding world of private consultancy.
- Adopt a pragmatic and profitable strategy to achieve incredible results from your consultancy business
- Learn to identify and address the most common issues facing your prospects and clients
- Leverage technology to reduce labor, maximize profitability, and increase the discretionary time
- Access sample budgets, case studies, references and appendices, downloadable tools and forms, and online resources
The modern business landscape presents unique opportunities for those willing to take the leap from corporate offices to home offices. Getting Started in Consulting, Fourth Edition is the must-have guide for anyone seeking to cut their own path to their own consulting business.
18. The McKinsey Engagement | By Paul Friga
The third volume in the internationally best-selling McKinsey trilogy, The McKinsey Engagement is an action guide to realizing the consistently high level of business solutions achieved by the experts at the world’s most respected consulting firms.
Former consultant Dr. Paul Friga distills the guiding principles first presented in the best-selling The McKinsey Way and the tested-in-the-trenches methodologies outlined in The McKinsey Mind and combines them with many of the principles and procedures implemented by the military and other organizations. The result is nothing less than the business equivalent of a Special Forces Field Manual.
True to its stated goal of arming consultants and corporate problem solvers with a blueprint for achieving consistently phenomenal results, The McKinsey Engagement is short on theory and long on action. Each chapter focuses on one element in the celebrated Team Focus problem-solving model and features a concise discussion of a key concept or principle, followed by:
- Clear rules of engagement
- A set of operating tactics
- Sophisticated problem-solving tools
- Easy-to-follow action steps
- Exercises, checklists, and training tips
- War stories and best practices case studies
A toolkit for bringing clarity, discipline, and purpose to all your problem-solving and change management initiatives, The McKinsey Engagement is an indispensable guide for consultants, as well as for executives, managers, students, and corporate trainers.
19. Competitive Strategy | By Michael Porter
Now nearing its 60th printing in English and translated into 19 languages, Michael E. Porter’s Competitive Strategy has transformed the theory, practice, and teaching of business strategy throughout the world.
Electrifying in its simplicity – like all great breakthroughs – Porter’s analysis of industries captures the complexity of industry competition in five underlying forces. Porter introduces one of the most powerful competitive tools yet developed: his three generic strategies – lowest cost, differentiation, and focus – which bring structure to the task of strategic positioning. He reveals how competitive advantage can be defined in terms of relative cost and relative prices, thus linking it directly to profitability and presenting a whole new perspective on how profit is created and divided. In the almost two decades since publication, Porter’s framework for predicting competitor behavior has transformed the way in which companies look at their rivals and has given rise to the new discipline of competitor assessment.
More than a million managers in both large and small companies, investment analysts, consultants, students, and scholars throughout the world have internalized Porter’s ideas and applied them to assess industries, understand competitors, and choose competitive positions. The ideas in the audiobook address the underlying fundamentals of competition in a way that is independent of the specifics of the ways companies go about competing.
Competitive Strategy has filled a void in management thinking. It provides an enduring foundation and grounding point on which all subsequent work can be built. By bringing a disciplined structure to the question of how firms achieve superior profitability, Porter’s rich frameworks and deep insights comprise a sophisticated view of competition unsurpassed in the last quarter-century. Competitive Strategy is skillfully narrated by Scott R. Pollak.
Final Thoughts on the Best Books on Strategy Consulting
The Strategy Journal is the field guide to our popular book Succeeding as a Management Consultant. This Journal helps readers walk into any situation in any organization anywhere in the world and solve their most pressing business problems via to-do list prompts, self-assessments, and strategy calendars. The Journal was used by many of our very successful clients and summarizes the approach we used to help them increase their productivity, transform their careers, set daunting career goals, outperform peers, and measure the value they create.
Do you see a book that you think should be on the list? Let us know your feedback here.