Today, we’re learning about Strategy Sprint, a hands on consulting project opportunity. Want to get some real world experience to test out whether you’re interested in consulting, amp up your case practice, or get ready for that consulting job after you get the offer? Strategy Sprint might be for you! Apply today or learn more.
Listen here or on your favorite podcast channel. A full transcription is available below.
Transcription has been edited for length and brevity.
On today’s episode, we’re going to be talking with Lisa Bright, one of our coaches here at Management Consulted. And we’re going to be talking about Management Consulted’s Strategy Sprint program.
As a brief introduction, this is a hands on consulting project where you get to work with a real client on one of their active business problems. You get to help a client think about how they could grow, how they could expand their business, or how they could move into a completely new business line. Now, Lisa, tell us a little bit more here. You’ve been a project leader on three different Strategy Sprint projects. Tell us a little bit more about the program, your clients, and what types of problems that your teams have solved?
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve had a blast on all of the projects that I’ve been a part of. So I actually joined a pre-Strategy Sprint project before it was Strategy Sprint. So I’ll talk a little bit about that one. And I’ve been part of three others since then.
So, the first one, it was actually a hot tub parts manufacturer. Not manufacturer, a hot tub parts reseller online. They were looking to grow profits. And so that one, it was just an undergrad team. And I think we did that one for a week. So that was kind of the first experience with that. That was a really interesting project. And so that one was particularly interesting because of the client.
And then the last one I worked on, it was a solar panel startup. They were installing installing solar panels on homes and commercial businesses. So they were looking to grow their business, both geographically and then also through marketing and figuring out what their next wave would be in terms of their strategy moving forward.
My second one, it was a small single owner, parenting services business. So they were offering coaching classes, books, materials, things like that to help parents. So they were looking to grow their business from product offerings to marketing, etc. They were trying to get to the next stage. Small family, single owner business to really kind of scaling the business, broadly speaking.
And then, the third one was really interesting. So this is actually a multimillion dollar lifestyle brand, based on a TV show that we may know, with some potential celebrities that people may recognize. But they were looking to kind of rebrand themselves, or to create a much more cohesive brand through their online presence.
So much diversity.
Yeah, I get a little flavor of that idea of working at McKinsey, where it’s you work on a project, do stuff for a few weeks, and then you’re out off to the next thing. So if you like to constantly learn, it’s a great experience to do that. So I personally really liked leading Strategy Sprint.
So, a week long project, you get to work with a real client, get to work on a growth problem or a strategy problem. Why should folks consider joining one of these teams? Who’s this program right for?
It’s right for a lot of people. I’ve had a really broad mix of people on my projects. So it’s ranged from undergrads to people that were maybe 40-50 years old, thinking about taking all their experience and switching into consulting, and everybody in the middle. So it’s been a really broad group.
There’s a few key things I would point out as to why somebody should look at Strategy Sprint. The first was learning if consulting is something that you actually want to do. So I’ve had some experiences on projects where people thought they wanted to get in consulting, did a Strategy Sprint for a week, and realized there’s a lot of data involved. And they decided that maybe McKinsey, BCG, or Bain wasn’t for them. But they realized that they still liked consulting, but maybe less of the data aspect. And so they found out that maybe human capital consulting might be a better option for them.
And then I’ve had some people that joined Strategy Sprint and they absolutely loved it for the week, and they’re like, “This is what I want to do.” And so they realized that that is the path they wanted to pursue. So it works out either way. You know, it’s one week of your time, two weeks with training included, and you figure out if this is the right career path. So, it’s a pretty minimal investment to figure that out overall. So that’s one.
The second is I think it’s a good resume builder, especially for people that don’t have business experience. So actually getting a project under your belt, working with one of the coaches, working in a team and doing the type of work that you would be doing for a consulting firm. So I actually recommend it to a lot of our folks who maybe they’re they’re really busy during their summers and things like that. But for a week or two, most people can kind of make that work into their schedule. That’s the second one.
And then the next one I had was case prep. So I actually really think that doing the work actually makes people much better at doing cases. So if you plan on interviewing in consulting, when you’re on a project, and you get to see structure and practice, you get to see storylining in practice, it all makes a lot more sense when you’re actually doing it. In an interview, it’s not just this process you’re going through just to get through a case for an interview. So I think it helps a lot there.
The fourth thing is prepping for the job. So some of the people on my team have had a consulting job lined up, and they’re worried about starting day one and not knowing what it’s like to work on a consulting project. And so they get a little flavor of that for the week. Personally, for me, if I would have done this prior to joining McKinsey, I would have had a much better sense of what it would look like when I got there. I remember my first project, I had a McKinsey analyst who was assigned as my buddy on the team. And I remember presenting my PowerPoint deck to him. And he was like, “That is not a McKinsey deck.” So I was like, “What’s a McKinsey deck?”
So in Strategy Sprint, I go through that with all of the folks on my team. So at the end, they may not be experts in creating McKinsey decks, but at least they know what to expect. And they get the basics of it. So I think that helps a lot. And then just personally for me, I just enjoy doing them. So you want to work on a fun project for a week, learn about solar panels or hot tub parts or anything else, or some crazy lifestyle brand for a week, and then move on to something else. It’s just fun to kind of dive in. I personally find that very fun to work on. So pretty much everyone I think could benefit from Strategy Sprint.
Everybody. I mean, what a crash course. I love what you said there about getting to see the practicalities of casing. Casing is not a test in a vacuum. It is a simulation of what happens in the real world. You get to experience that on Strategy Sprint. And you mentioned as well, a huge part of this experience is an individual’s daily mentorship by an MBB consultant. Could you walk us through a little bit of that mentoring process? How often do you meet? What do you talk about?
I meet with the team as a broader team once. So I would equate this to when we worked on McKinsey, team problem solving sessions. You all kind of come to the table, figure out what the issues are, get alignment, and then everybody breaks off and works on their own thing. So we do that once a day. And then I’d usually do that at the start of the day. And then I would have check ins with each person after that. So those could be 30 minutes, they could be a couple hours. I’ve made them pretty flexible, just like they typically are in McKinsey projects where you pull in your manager and you’re like I’m stuck on this, I don’t know how to get this Excel issue figured out, or I’m not sure how to map the story.
And so then we can kind of work through those in those sessions. So during the sessions, I say a lot of it has been working on storylining and structuring out the problem. That’s something that I think you really only get through, you can learn about it. But I think you only really get to see that in action on a project, and then see how that works. And then kind of creating what the slides would look like. It’s a lot of storylining via slides, which is a key thing in consulting that I never really realized until I actually got to McKinsey.
Research, really being able to pinpoint what are you looking for. The biggest thing that most people do is they just go look at everything. And they don’t have a specific data point or purpose behind their research. It’s really narrowing it down. It’s like this is the number I want you to go find. Data that tells me this. This is what I want you to focus on. Especially when you have four or five days on Strategy Sprint, you’ve gotta work very efficiently, as you do on actual McKinsey projects as well.
And then the analysis. So some of the basics of Excel, troubleshooting, how to set it up in Excel, run the analysis. I kind of mentioned storylining, but really just PowerPoint, how to tell a story via slides. I know working at McKinsey, we always used to call them the million dollar slides. It’s that one slide that is really tells the story. And they’re like, we’re gonna go do that, and this is how much it’s going to get you in terms of dollars. So that’s another big one.
And then just general career stuff. I find that during Strategy Sprints, we actually talk a lot about what it is people want to do with consulting, or what their goals are. And so that also helps me in giving them feedback as well, in terms of what it is they’re looking for. So it’s really a mix. It’s a lot of the project and the content but a little bit of career stuff as well.
Join the Next Strategy Sprint
If you’re liking what you’re hearing so far, then join us for the next Strategy Sprint. Spots always sell out fast, so make sure to take action today. If you’re a previous Strategy Sprinter, or a Black Belt client, you get a discount. Send us an email for the code: [email protected]. We’re looking forward to having you join us.
And so I’d imagine that the impact can be pretty broad as well. What are some consistent takeaways that your Strategy Sprint participants have gotten out of their projects?
I think a few of the key things is just this idea of a crash course on what consulting would look like for them as a career. And so what we talked about, is this the career for me? These are my weaknesses and areas I need to work on because I do have a consulting job that I’m starting. And my PowerPoint skills aren’t up to par. So I need to work on that. So it’s really kind of from a practical perspective of getting into consulting is one thing.
And then, I always do feedback sessions at the end as well. So we do them throughout the week, but then I always do a checkout feedback session to understand what people got out of it. And some of the big things I hear, it’s really about structure, storylining, thinking about the audience’s perspective.
I’ve never run into someone who hasn’t been in consulting, and a lot of us, we think we’re good at PowerPoint. I did when I joined McKinsey until I was told that’s absolutely not what we do. But I think that’s one of the biggest things is really how to tell a cohesive, really logical story to the client that spurs them to take action. I think that’s the key thing. So a lot of people have gotten a lot out of that.
And then also being more targeted in their research and their analysis, and how to work very efficiently. So thinking like a consultant. Those are some of the big things that I’ve heard really consistently across most people going through the program.
Absolutely. And this crash course, I mean, the active part of the project is only one work week, though we don’t send you in completely unprepared. Before the project week, you help lead a one day virtual skills training. What are some of the things that participants could expect to learn on that day?
It’s a lot of understanding the academics behind the things that we’re doing during the week. So for example, the mechanics of working in Excel. When you structure a consulting slide, what does that entail. It needs to have a lead, and not just a title of the slide. How to look for charts. How do you build those out. How do you think about crafting your argument from the beginning.
And I find that a lot of people, they go through that process, and then they start day one on the project, and they haven’t used it in practice yet. And then as we go through the week, they’re like, oh, that’s what that looks like in practice. So I think that it really comes down to practicing it. But really having the training beforehand helps you build understanding. And then you get to actually exercise those skills during the course of the week. So I think it’s really important to have both.
Yeah, and you get to ramp up the application over time. We’ve got the one day skills training, then you get to do a case competition. You get to start to apply it, but then it doesn’t really hit home until you’re working live in the moment with the client and the team. And so with that type of repetition, even only over a couple of weeks timeframe, I know that in my experiences with Strategy Sprint, I’ve been really impressed to see the improvement, and really just the internalization of these concepts over such a short period of time.
What about for you, Lisa? Do you have a personal favorite moment or fun memories from leading a project team?
I’d say there’s a couple. So one of my projects, it was the night before the Partner meeting the next day, and we were up till – the final presentation was going to be West Coast, I forget. It was in a really weird time zone. So all of us were up super late. It was around four o’clock in the morning. And we’re working on the final deck. You kind of hit those loopy hours around that time.
It just kind of reminded me of McKinsey late nights before a big meeting with the client, everybody’s up late working, just cranking on the deck. So I kind of get those little moments of, “I’m kind of back at McKinsey,” and kind of getting that feel. So those are fun.
But you can kind of see that those really cool data slides when the client sees that it just like it hits them, they’re like, oh, we’ve got to fix that. Those are the slides you’re looking for. So it’s really cool when the team gets to see that, the client starts engaging in those. And so I really like those moments where you can kind of see all their stuff for the week coming together in that final client presentation, which I think is pretty cool. And then from a content perspective, I’ve always really enjoyed those million dollar slides where people get to make those. So it’s really where we did all of the grassroots research, and we pulled together a bunch of data. It wasn’t like from a report anywhere, it was going out and gathering the data. And then finding some really cool insights and getting that into a really interesting, what we call million dollar slides, where the client really engages in that. So I’ve really enjoyed that.
One of the projects, we went and got all the social media account data. And we were looking at how many followers our client had, and they had over 30 million followers on Instagram, and Facebook, and things like that. But then we compared them to their competition, and we had to go get all the data, which is very time consuming, we got all the information.
And we found out their conversion rates were 1/20 of their competition. We were like, you have all these followers, you just have to convert them. And so what that would look like in terms of a dollar amount for the client was huge. And then recommendations on how they actually go capture that.
The unveiling of those key impact slides at the beginning of a presentation, the beginning of the discussion. Those are really rewarding moments. I agree.
It works! They’re like, why are you so excited about the slide? I’m like, because I know this is going to be great for the client. And then the client engages and I’m like that’s why. So I really like those. I think those are fun.
Lisa, thank you so much for your time today. Thanks for talking us through Strategy Sprint, and why people should get involved.
Great to be here. Thanks, Stephanie.
You’ll have one full day of virtual skills training, one day of case competition, and one work-week of active project work in Strategy Sprint. You get to work on a real business problem with a real client under the guidance of an MBB project leader. To learn more about this unique opportunity or to apply, click here.