McKinsey and LUNAR: Acquiring a Design Firm

Published 29 Oct 2018
Reference 6374
Industry Consulting
Region North America
Length 25 page(s)
Language English

The case explores the possible acquisition by McKinsey &Company of design company LUNAR in response to the new directions management consulting is taking. As of 2014, a new internal unit included ‘McKinsey implementation’ and ‘digital labs’, which explored new opportunities for the Firm and soon became major growth vectors for the consultancy. Targeting new capabilities and expertise, senior leadership asks the heads of the Product Development Practice (PDP) to “shoot big” if an opportunity arises. Design is one such capability, but how should they bring it on board: A partnership with an existing design company? An outright acquisition? Or by developing organically, hiring designers to work within the company? Ultimately, the acquisition option is chosen as a way to secure proven design talent, a brand, a portfolio, infrastructure and culture. A team within the PDP pitch a proposal to acquire a design company to the McKinsey advisory board, which gives the green light for a pilot test. McKinsey&Company asks LUNAR to host a workshop (for the redesign of a storage cabinet for laptop computers) and is more than impressed with the result. Discussions to acquire the design firm begin, but strategic, organizational and operational issues must be ironed out first. Students are required to assess whether the acquisition option will succeed, whether there is a better route (with respective advantages and disadvantages), and what organizational levers can be used to optimize LUNAR’s integration.

Teaching objectives

a) The strategic reasoning behind building a firm’s capabilities through an acquisition. How to add new organizational capabilities via an acquisition, what form the acquisition should take, and the advantages/disadvantages involved. b) Using organizational levers (e.g. defining career plans) to structure the new firm’s integration. How best to integrate the new capabilities – in this case design – from the acquired company into the established organization.

  • Knowledge services
  • Design thinking
  • Organizational capabilities
  • Innovation
  • Design capabilities
  • Creativity
  • Creative organizations
  • McKinsey
  • Q11819