Thinking About Business Problems
It’s impossible to do everything yourself all the time. Business
problems are complicated—the problems McKinsey deals with espe
cially so. If you don’t leverage the other members of your team to
solve these problems, you are wasting valuable resources. The prin
ciple applies as much to senior managers as to junior executives
whose MBA diplomas are still wet with ink. Very few people have
the brainpower and energy to be a one-man show all the time.
If you manage it once, you raise unrealistic expectations from
those around you. Suppose, for a moment, that you manage,
through superhuman effort, to perform well beyond what is nor
mally expected of you. You hit that ball out of the park and (what
the heck) the bases were loaded. Congratulations. Of course, now
your boss or your shareholders will expect you to do the same
thing every time you step up to the plate.
Once you fail to meet expectations, it is very difficult to regain
credibility. At McKinsey, it is said that you are only as good as
your last study. If you have one “bad” engagement, all your hard
work before that doesn’t matter. EMs won’t want you on their
teams. You won’t be staffed on the interesting projects. You won’t
be put in a position to excel. Your career at the Firm will suffer.
Prepare your résumé.
The same thing happens in the stock market. A high-flying
company that posts 20 percent profit increases every year sees its
stock price soar. When it misses one quarter, even by as little as a
cent, its momentum reverses. Wall Street drops the stock like a hot
potato and its share price plummets. After that, even when the
company gets back on the growth track, several years can go by
before investors trust it enough to pile back in.
When I was a kid, I had a fantasy baseball board game. You
picked your team from a combination of then current players (Carl
Yastrzemski, Sandy Koufax, Roberto Clemente) and baseball leg
ends (Ruth, Cobb, DiMaggio). Each player came on a circle of