McKinsey For Kids (no, really)
Give us a child when they are seven and they are ours for life.
McKinsey for Kids is a new website from the scandal-haunted consulting giants who proposed that Oxycontin-producers Purdue Pharma pay a bounty to pharma distributors based on the number of lethal overdoses in their territories. Its purpose is to teach kids to think like McKinsey Consultants.
“Chapter 1” of the project invites kids to manage an aquaponics fishery with “models” and “Internet of Things” gadgets and “computer vision.” The lesson is long on the ways that outside experts can solve problems, and absolutely silent on the ways that outside experts can get it wrong. In that regard, it’s a brilliant encapsulation of the McKinsey model (all that’s missing are the titanic invoices).
Writing about McKinsey For Kids, The American Prospect’s Adam M Lowenstein calls the site part of McKinsey’s “thought leadership” program: “[a means to] project expertise and credibility, and to sustain the company’s narrative of itself and the work it does.”
But McKinsey for Kids isn’t just directed at the outside world; there’s also an inside game: the site “reassure[s] current employees that the work they do is meaningful and purpose-driven, and to convince future employees that the way to live a meaningful and purpose-driven life is to go not into government, education, health care, or philanthropy, but into business. Somewhere like McKinsey.”
That’s an important challenge, because McKinsey’s business relies on fielding plausible experts that will maintain its role as consigliere to 90 of the 100 largest businesses in the world. But McKinsey itself is such a force for ill that it keeps losing top personnel. Some — like Anand Giridharadas, go on to write bestsellers that eviscerate its claims to virtue: