1920-1939
1920s

Lyndall Urwick is a leading business consultant in the United Kingdom. He is actively visiting with corporate executives and studying factories, making suggestions on improvements. His book, The Elements of Administration, based on his experiences is published in 1943.

The Elements of Administration
Custom is a great stabiliser in social living. The human mind accepts change far more slowly with reference to institutions and habitual ways of thinking, than with reference to the tools it employes or the new facilities it is prepared to take into use. But despite the frank individualism of a hedonistic economics, practical industrialists in actual contact with the machines, whose task has been to make them work, have been been unable to escape the irresistible logic which they impose.... That is why modern conceptions of management --the business term for administration--first took shape in a branch of engineering, machine tools, in which at the time technical evolution was extremely rapid..."

LYNDALL URWICK
SOMETIMES DIRECTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE, GENEVA

1925

George S. May, a flamboyant 25-year old, founds George S. May International Company and gets two clients after mailing out 50 letters. He serves his first client, the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company from a basement office in his home. May becomes infamous for commission-based marketing techniques. Perrin Stryker, wrote in Fortune: "Most consultants assume a primly professional attitude towards clients. In the George S. May Company, the client is hotly pursued. Indeed, few companies in any industry have dared to sell their services so hard, so blatantly and so indiscriminately as does the George S. May Company." May also sponsors the May World Championship Golf which becomes the top money circuit tournament.

1926

James O. McKinsey, an accounting professor at Northwestern University, founds McKinsey. McKinsey & Co. A. "Tom" Kearney joins soon after. Grad The firm called themselves "consultants and engineers" but mostly audited client's books.

1927

An investigation started at Western Electric's Hawthorne factory in Chicago discovers that workers become more productive whether lighting is increased or decreased. It appears that the attention itself motivates them.


Andre Citroen
1928

The age of the automobile has arrived. Andre Citroen writes an essay predicting that automobile transportation will fundamentally change the way civilized man lives his life.

1929

Edwin Booz Surveys hires its third employee, Jim Allen. The core of the firm that today is Booz Allen & Hamilton is formed.

As described in Alfred Sloan's classic "My Life at General Motors", General Motors has begun to regain market share from Ford in an epic battle, fought in Europe as much as in the United States. GM's European partner, Opel, makes major inroads into the market in Germany.
1930s

Troubled times in the business world creates a demand for consulting services. Many big names got their start working to help companies navigate their way out of the Great Depression. Manufacturing is King.

1933

In the midst of Economic Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt announces a series of drastic measures to right the economy including the WPA and Social Security.

1933

McKinsey is joined by Marvin Bower, a Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School grad. Bower had been a lawyer at the firm which today is Jones Day Reavis & Pogue. Bower worked as a representative of holders of bonds of troubled companies. He noticed there that many companies needed management advice. A few years later McKinsey takes a temporary position to run Marshall Field & Co. Bower says on and runs New York office.

1937

James O. McKinsey dies of pneumonia at the age of 48. Bower and Tom Kearney disagree over how to run the firm. Kearney keeps Chicago office in 1939 and calls it A. T. Kearney. Bower wants a professional approach with a cultivated atmosphere: "My vision was to provide advice on managing to top executives and to do it with the professional standards of a leading law firm." Bower sets rules including (1) put the interests of the client ahead of revenues, (2) tell the truth and don't be afraid to challenge a client's opinion and (3) only agree to perform work that is necessary and something McKinsey can do well. Insists on professional business language where jobs are "engagements" and the firm has a "practice." Bower insists that consultants where hats and long socks (consultants still where the long socks). Shifts the focus of recruiting away from established experts towards graduate students who could learn to be good problem solvers and consultants.

1939

The Segal Co, today a leading employee benefits firm, is founded.


Previous slide Next
slide Back to the slide index