McKinsey & Company combines design capabilities to launch McKinsey Design

16 November 2018

Big Three strategy firm McKinsey has formally entered the design world with the launch of its McKinsey Design business unit. McKinsey Design is built on the bedrock of three premier design firm acquisitions – Lunar, Carbon12, and Veryday – and has a current headcount of 350 designers, engineers, and thinkers across 10 cities.

According to McKinsey & Company – one of the world’s top management consultancies – design matters. “As a discipline, design is more than pleasing the eye,” the firm’s website relates. “It’s the heart of a holistic approach to deeply understanding customers in order to better meet their needs.” For McKinsey, that means combining creative talent, rigorous analytics, and engineering expertise to design products, services, and experiences that create value for clients and their customers.

Global spending on design services is surging, with the market reaching $40.7 billion. What’s more, the industry – which includes offerings like product and model design, user interfaces, and interaction design – is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.4% between 2017 and 2023.

From a more bounded strategy and operations approach, wherein serious men in suits would advise you on how to scientifically manage your widget factory and supply chain, management consultants have grown outward to encompass increasingly more business lines. Transformations require a holistic view, they might say, and the successful completion of their strategy for your corporate growth involves the perfect execution of a new Big Data-powered process, an on-point marketing communications plan, and a rock solid product design.McKinsey combines design capabilities to launch McKinsey DesignThe cross-selling synergies are real, and the market is there for trusted consultancies. So now, that McKinsey consulting engagement may entail working with a team of clear-frame-spectacled folks in black turtlenecks, advising you on how to make your widget look as good as an Apple product.

The strategy consulting firm has now officially launched its McKinsey Design arm, further expanding its service line and answering explosive demand for design-related requests from clients. The new unit sits abreast of the firm’s core strategy consulting business, alongside other divisions like McKinsey Digital, and McKinsey Solutions.

“It's no secret that design is increasingly a source of competitive advantage and business value,” Benedict Sheppard, a Partner in McKinsey’s London office, said of the new unit. “In a world of fierce competition, products, and services that are well-designed – working better as well as looking better – have a critical edge.”

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Sheppard added, “Things that used to be separate in the business world are converging, and the consumer's experience has to be seamless. Service plus digital plus physical. That is not easy to deliver... If we bring design capabilities to pieces of strategy and operations, then we can do something quite extraordinary.”

The company first breached the design realm when it acquired industrial design firm Lunar in 2015. Founded in 1984, Lunar added design studios in San Francisco, Chicago, Hong Kong, and Munich to McKinsey’s footprint. 18 months later, McKinsey added boutique design firm Carbon12, absorbing studios in Austin and Mumbai. A month later, the consultancy acquired Swedish design agency Veryday, bolstering its capabilities further with over 90 designers and engineers based in Stockholm and New York. Founded in 1969, Veryday has won over 240 awards and has been granted more than 300 patents.

McKinsey Design’s 350 employees will offer clients top-level services in product, experience, and service design. The product design offering will include rapid prototyping before final design, along with commercial case, manufacturing plan, and market-entry platform services. Experience design, meanwhile, will utilize agile methods to create customer experiences that drive customer satisfaction, revenue growth, and employee engagement. Finally, the firm’s service design offering will use a human-centred focus to meet customer needs that occur at multiple touchpoints – including online, offline, and with physical products.

Though McKinsey is notoriously tight-lipped about its client roster, client-side leaks have revealed that the company’s design arm already works with heavyweights like Apple, HP, Motorola, Philips, and Porsche. The design unit will compete with industry incumbents like IDEO, Frog Design, Designworks, Artop, Designaffairs, Ammunition, ZIBA Design, Fuse Project, and R&D Design.


US tech consultancy Slalom to open Manchester office

19 April 2019

Slalom is on the move again, this time expanding its UK footprint. The American tech consulting firm has announced plans to open a Manchester office in which it will employ 200 staff by 2025. The firm, which opened a London office in 2014, was formerly known as Slalom Consulting until a 2015 rebranding.

The announcement of the Manchester move follows a January relocation of its more than 700 Chicago-based employees from its office in Chicago’s Prudential Plaza to Aon Center, the third-tallest building in the city. Slalom’s previous space at Prudential was separated between floors, causing inconvenience. The new space at Aon is a marked improvement, in addition to the sheer size difference, with the move nearly doubling the firm’s floor space. The space will also utilize hoteling (scheduled workspaces), project-based workspace, and flexible areas for events and education. Slalom also expanded into Canada in 2016, opening an office in Toronto.

Paul Squire, managing director of Slalom’s London location, will head up the Manchester office. “I’m excited about working with our clients in the North West of England, helping them to deliver people-centric change, bring strategic solutions to life, and ultimately, to love their future,” he said.

Slalom has been one of Fortune 100’s “Best Companies to Work For” for four consecutive years, and has partnerships with powerhouse organizations including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Tableau. It employs more than 6,500 people in 29 offices across North America and the UK.US tech consultancy Slalom to open Manchester office“Manchester is a city of digital enterprise with a wide range of strengths across industries including manufacturing, healthcare, utilities and consumer services; which perfectly complements Slalom’s breadth of expertise,” Dave Williams, UK Country Managing Director, said. "We're looking forward to collaborating with clients to shape their internal capabilities, building a team and investing in the local community."

“Greater Manchester is a hotbed for collaboration and innovation, making it the ideal location for pioneering businesses like Slalom. There are strong complementarities between Slalom and Greater Manchester’s efforts to collaborate with companies going through digital transformation and supporting them to grow within the region. Establishing operations within one of Europe’s largest digital and technology clusters will provide the consultancy firm with ample opportunities to join forces with the rapidly increasing number of world-leading brands that are choosing Manchester,” Tim Newns, chief executive of Manchester’s inward investment agency, added.

In December 2018, the firm launched Slalom Build, a software and tech product “Build-as-a-service” offering that enables companies to build cloud-native software and tech products. While Slalom is headquartered in Seattle, Slalom Build centers can currently be found in Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, and Toronto.