McKinsey Goes to Prison: Unusual Consulting Assignments

Published: Jan 27, 2016

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I'll admit that my eyebrows went up when I received an email from a colleague this week with the headline "McKinsey Back in Prison." First, a moment of self-doubt: was there a scandal I'd missed? An appeal hearing related to the Galleon Group affair?

Nope: everything is on the level.

As it turns out, the firm has been contracted to fulfill one of the more esoteric consulting assignments I've heard about recently: fixing the problem with violence among inmates at New York's Riker's Island correctional facility.

According to an article in Crain's New York, the world's most prestigious firm has already been working on the issue since 2014, at the behest of the de Blasio administration. But having earned some $1.7 million for that contract, the Department of Corrections seems to have significantly upped McKinsey's mandate, signing off on a $7.5 million engagement.

I can't decide which is the more fascinating aspect of this one: getting a glimpse into the range of projects that McKinsey actually works on (the firm is notorious for guarding its clients' identities), or wondering how they go about assembling a project team for it—it's hard to imagine Harvard offering prison violence 101 as an elective on the MBA class list.

What other unusual consulting  assignments have you had or heard of? Let us know in the comments below.