McKinsey, BCG fight our corner. Only, we don’t notice.

Marc Wright and I had a chat, on- and off-line, a while ago about how it’s all too easy to only read stuff in our own insular universe and never look outside — the example being, how many internal communicators know who Kotter is. 

(Not the guy we “Welcomed Back …” the American 1970s TV show.)

So … now BCG and McKinsey have both released recent articles talking to CEOs about Top CEO agenda items in the Current Economic Climate, and HR and employee engagement feature prominently in both.  The biggest “importance” vs. “capability” gap exists in employee engagement and alignment with brand and business strategy.

I wonder: how many of internal communication managers and HR managers know these exist, let along have read them?

And no, I’m not going to be nice and say where to find them 🙂


9 thoughts on “McKinsey, BCG fight our corner. Only, we don’t notice.

  1. Quite a few these days – well in-house that is.

    I remember when I ran the Black Belt programme we did a sort of pub quiz when we got IC people to say what they though EBITDA stood for… and got very mixed results. However, I think people working at a strategic level do tend to know about this sort of stuff.

    By contrast, I get quite depressed by some of the consultants (present company excepted!) I meet these days who can either be so full of HBR/McKinsey guff that they don’t have any practical use or they blather on about theories that they don’t actually understand!


    PS – saw your Linked-in status comment. When I worked for Simon Barrow at People in Business years ago, he got a TM on Employer Brand and I think his lawyers were able to show that he had the first published use of the term! His partner, Richard Mosely’s book is excellent!

  2. And we all know that having a TM on something really means you invented it, don’t we? It’s just that TMs can be challenged and there is a lot of evidence (Alan Crozier published in the early/mid 90s about employer brand, for example, while he was at Mercer; I did a project for a US cable company, TCI (part of Liberty) in 1994 that was called “employer brand” only it wasn’t published and I didn’t run out and trademark it.

    Having said that, and again I’ve posted about it here on DTIM, people are going TM crazy; it’s a disease that’s come over from the states.

    Soon, you won’t be able to use English in conversation because every phrase is a trademark(TM)

  3. … and it also brings to mind a couple previous posts here at DTIM — there is a brigade of people (present company absolutley excepted) who seem to love to paint anyone who wants to apply theory or strategy consistently as a wooly-headed, impractical egg-head. It’s largely because, as you say, they either don’t understand the theory, or more likely, just want to get on with “doing something”. Or, more presciely, be SEEN TO BE (and paid to) DOING SOMETHING.

    To me, strategy and pragmatism are two sides of the same coin.

  4. Of course, you’re both right. Theory as a pseudo-scientific veneer to try and make you look clever is of use to no-one. However, intelligently applied as a series of filters to diagnose complex situations and generate compelling brand insights, it becomes an incredibly powerful and useful tool.

  5. With regard to the trade marking thing… I often wonder who thought about somethings first, especially in IC. Yesterday, a client showed me something and I commented that I’d seen it before somewhere and she was adamant that the work was the original thinking of someone other than who I thought was the author. I don’t actually think there was any dishonesty going on, just that ideas seem to occur in similar form at the same time to different people! Something in the ether?

    and @Dan I didn’t think there is a conflict here. My take is that IC as a discipline, in Europe at least, has a recent heritage of trying to demonstrate its worth and owes much to certain consultants in the last couple of decades who tried to draw on research into psychology. The result was that many of the respected figures of the profession spent a lot of time spouting theory – a practice that many of us emulated (myself included).

    The problem is that an awful lot of the stuff that gets spouted is utter guff and largely made-up. One of my hobby horses is that I’ve listened to people expounding theories that have as much credibility as crystal healing and astrology. Their only use is to sell their services to the gullible.

    Where BCG/McKinsey score highly is that they made a pretty good fist of sticking some data behind their advice. OK no one gets it right all the time, but our senior leaders are normally data-rational people. If IC people want to be listened to we could do a lot worse than try to rock up with some data from time to time.


  6. Wasn’t suggesting any conflict, guys – just that (to use KK’s lingo) your points present two sides of the same coin. Liam’s downer that many practioners lack the necessary theoretical understanding and yours, Kevin, that those that do often get pejoratively labelled as ‘academic’ are so obviously connected. Hence my point that it’s all about intelligent application, a view that we all seem to share.

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