There are four books that I recommend as core to the generic practice of consulting. These are:
- The McKinsey Way by Ethan Rasiel
- Process Consultation by Edgar Schein (dry read)
- Flawless Consulting by Peter Block (optional and highly recommended for those coming from engineering versus consulting backgrounds)
- The Pyramid Principle:Logic In Writing and Thinking (for managers & consultants especially) by Barbara Minto
Beyond the generic core, there are three major dimensions that come to the top of my mind when considering practitioner-level knowledge of the management consulting space:
- developing speciality and functional-area skills
- nurturing marketing and selling skills for consulting (for example, I highly recommend books like Winning the Professional Services Sale by Michael McLaughlin)
- developing knowledge and skills specific to managing both consulting practices and different organizational structures (for example, I like David Maister’s Managing The Professional Service Firm).
I have developed a working reading list that attempts to cover many of the areas above. It is a list for entry-level to advanced management consultants. It can be found here.
And for those readers seeking books and information on getting a job with a consulting firm, there are a number of other books out there. One site that sells such a book (“The Consulting Interview Bible“) is ManagementConsulted. As an aside, back in 2009 Kevin Gao (ex-McKinseyite) interviewed me for ManagementConsulted’s Life as a Consultant series.
The best historical account of the consulting industry I’ve read is The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World by Walter Kiechel
Finally, I just released a book entitled The Consulting Apprenticeship. The book focuses on nuances passed on during apprenticeship and complements the four books I mention at the beginning of this post or can be read standalone. More info at ConsultingApprenticeship.com.
The Consulting Apprenticeship is available for purchase at Amazon.
Edit (November 28, 2017): I just completed a new book,by Davina Stanley and Gerard Castles. The two authors began their consulting careers at McKinsey & Company (communications specialists). The book is thematically aligned with the books above, and I’ve written a review of the book here: . I also recommend considering their online courses .