Cracking The McKinsey Mind_Part One: Framing The Problem


The McKinsey Mind is definitely a great book to read. Starting from today, I will try to crack this book, even learning at a low speed (which could make the learning more effective and fruitful), while at the same time jot down some notes here for possible future use.


Part One: Framing The Problem:


1.         Framing the Problem


1.1        Structure

Although McKinsey & Company often uses the term fact-based to describe it, the McKinsey problem-solving process begins not with facts but with structure. Structure can refer to particular problem-solving frameworks or more generally to defining the boundaries of a problem and then breaking it down into its component elements.


a.        Without Structure, your ideas won’t stand up.

b.        Use structure to strengthen your thinking.


1.2        MECE

Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive


1.3        Hypothesis

Having reduced the problem to its essential components through the use of appropriate frameworks, you are ready to embark on the next step in the process of framing it: forming a hypothesis as to its likely solution.


For a start, a hypothesis provides you and your team with a problem-solving road map that will lead you to ask the right questions and perform the correct analyses to get to your answer.


a.        An initial hypothesis will save your time.

b.        An initial hypothesis will make your decision making more effective.


1.4        Issue tree & Logic tree

The most common tool McKinsey-ites use to break problems apart is the logic tree, a hierarchical listing of all the components of a problem.


An issue tree is the evolved cousin of the logic tree.


Where a logic tree is simply a hierarchical grouping of elements, an issue tree is the series of questions or issues that must be addressed to prove or disprove a hypothesis. Issue trees bridge the gap between structure and hypothesis.


1.5        QDT (Quick and Dirty Test)

The QDT is simply this: what assumptions are you making that need to be true in order for your hypothesis to be true? If any of these assumptions is false, then the hypothesis is false.




By using structured frameworks to create an initial hypothesis, you will enable yourself and your team to select the analyses and areas of research that will allow you to reach a robust conclusion in the shortest possible time.


The flow of the McKinsey Way:

1.      There should be a problem to resolve

2.      Build a logic tree to break it apart

3.      Come up with some initial hypotheses as likely solution

4.      Found some initial hypotheses that passed that QDT (Quick Dirty Test)

5.      Build an issue tree for each hypotheses and try to get the problem resolved


Keep crackin’

Jeff Wang Best

15 Dec, 2008