McKinsey speak: quick wins, delta, directionally correct, on the beach and all that

This is very funny – hey all of us Cats could be high-paid management consultants.

1. “What’s the so-what?”

Translation: How is this analysis useful?

Real meaning: You’re one up on me because you’ve done a ton of complex analysis and I haven’t. Allow me to reassert my authority by challenging you to explain the purpose, and implying that while you are living inside a spreadsheet, I’m actually living in the real world.

Example: “OK, so you’ve found that the client sells more beer in Australia than in New Zealand. But what’s the so-what?”

Translation: Mutually Exclusive and Completely Exhaustive.

Real meaning: Tell me you haven’t missed something big in your analysis that is going to bite us in the heiny.

Example: “Have you checked your analysis for MECE-ness?”

3. “Quick wins”

Translation: Easy cost savings we can show the client as soon as possible to justify our fees.

Real meaning: Lay-offs.

Example: “The entire Cleveland operation is a quick win.”

4. “Low-hanging fruit.”

Translation: Really quick wins.

Real meaning: Completely useless client operations and staff that even a child could lay off.

Example: “Boy, that guy Bob in accounts is low-hanging fruit.”

5. “Directionally correct.”

Translation: The analysis is correct in its broad conclusions.

Real meaning: The analysis is incorrect in some of its numbers.

Example: “Let’s not get hung up too much on the details. The analysis is directionally correct.”

6. “The right road, but the wrong direction.”

Translation: The analysis is asking the right questions.

Real meaning: The analysis is wrong, and one of the consultants is going to be fired.

Example: “We found the right road, but we took the wrong direction.”

7. “At least we now have a better idea of the questions.”

Translation: The next stage of analysis is going to add value.

Real meaning: The analysis just finished is so completely wrong that we can’t even claim it is directionally correct, or even that we found the right road.

Example: “OK, so’re going to have to go back and do this again. But at least now we have a better idea of the questions.”

8. “We’ve left that open.”

Real meaning: We don’t know. In fact until you asked we hadn’t even thought about it.

Example: “How will this impact the new product launch? We’ve left that open.”

9. “Boiling the ocean.”

Translation: Doing a lot of analysis.

Real meaning: We’re so busy in meetings we really want to economize on the amount of actual analysis have to do.

Example: “You don’t need to look at the cost structure of each of the operations. Don’t boil the ocean.”

10. “Delta”

Translation: Change.

Real meaning: The consultant is so insecure he is afraid of using a simple word like “change.”

Example: “It’s going to be hotter tomorrow than today? What’s the delta?”

11. “On the beach.”

Translation: Between projects. (Has nothing to do with any actual beach)

Real meaning: No other consultant wants me on their project.

Example: “I’ve just spent a couple of weeks on the beach.”

12. “Peeling the onion.”

Translation: Doing deeper and deeper analysis.

Real meaning: We’re still trying to understand the client.

Example: “We’ll get a better idea of that once we peel the onion a bit more.”

13. “Granularity.”

Translation: Details.

Real meaning: The consultant is so insecure he is afraid of the simple word “details.”

Example: “Let’s see if we can get a little more granularity on that.”

14. “Version 2.0.”

Translation: A new version.

Real meaning: The first version didn’t work.

Example: “We want version 2.0 of this.”

15. “IPM.”

Translation: In Production Mode.

Real meaning: It’s not finished yet.

Example: “That latest analysis? Don’t worry, it’s IPM.”

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13 Responses to McKinsey speak: quick wins, delta, directionally correct, on the beach and all that

  1. Aristogeiton

    Sinc, looks like this has broken the sidebar.

  2. Gab

    It’s not “Sinc”. Judith posted it and if you click on “page 2” the rest of it comes up.

  3. Lysander

    16. On the runway

    Translation: Still taking off

    Real meaning: Hasn’t gone anywhere; still domestic.

    Example: “We haven’t really tested or launched yet but we’re on the runway”

  4. tgs

    Working in consulting this was pretty popular when it went around the office:

  5. .

    Hilarious…change this report…again…this is so efficient…LOL

  6. .

    “As opposed to projects going backwards?”
    “Ballpark but be granular if you can, no need in boiling the oceans”
    “I am glad your planning is not unstrategic”
    “As you know I never make mistakes”
    “I am the only one around here who can look like a douche”


  7. Does it have anything about car-parking it?

  8. ChrisPer

    I established a parking lot on my project just now!

    And actually MECE is ‘mutually exclusive and COLLECTIVELY exhaustive’.

    It is a very useful way of looking at argument analysis for instance.

    McKinsey should always be thought of as Enron’s management consultants. They just ran the ruler over my company resulting in several of the most useful people being sacked to make the ratios look the same as is similar businesses in other countries – while failing to identify the useful people and how they this business is different to first-world businesses.

  9. ChrisPer

    Thanks for posting this – in looking up who said what about MECE, it tripped a return to Tim Van Gelder’s blog, and his work is OUTSTANDING.

  10. Des Deskperson

    17. “A robust conversation”

    Translation: we need to shop this idea around more.

    Real meaning: everyone we’ve spoken to so far hates it.

    Example: “We need to initiate a robust conversation with our stakeholders and gatekeepers that’s structured to fine tune our approach.”

  11. Rich

    tgs – that was awesome

    I laugh, but these bastards earn far more than most people

  12. brc

    It’s depressing how much of this looks like my inbox. I was told not two weeks ago to stop trying to boil the ocean. And I am working on version 2.0 of something. 1.0 was directionally incorrect. Turns out the low hanging fruit was actually a bit rotten.

  13. Bertie_Wooster

    No references to “space”?
    Meaning – a broad-sounding way to characterise a set of responsibilities the speaker doesn’t really understand.
    “Yeah Mick is working across that space”

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