Yale School of Management

McKinsey’s Dominic Barton on Innovation and Long-Term Thinking

Becton Fellowship Program

Driving innovation and attracting the right talent are two of the priorities that Dominic Barton, global managing director at McKinsey & Company, has identified for the preeminent consulting firm in the coming years.

The fast-changing pace of business and the growth of global commerce today are requiring all businesses, including McKinsey, to innovate as never before. “We’ve got to get our own metabolic rate up,” Barton told students at the Yale School of Management on February 4.

Barton spoke at Yale SOM as part of the Becton Fellowship Program. Timothy C. Collins, CEO and senior managing director of Ripplewood Holdings and senior Becton fellow, moderated the discussion.

While calling himself a true believer in capitalism, Barton also said that today’s system needs to “modernize”—adopting a long-term approach that takes in the impact of business on society.

Over the last 30 years, capitalism has grown more short-term, with the rise of high frequency trading and outsized attention paid to stock prices, he said. “We’ve seen a shift to quarterly capitalism. We’re holding stock for less time.”

CEOs are under greater pressure from boards to produce short-term gain, Barton said, and boards today are primarily concerned with risk management and compliance, not long-term growth.

“There’s almost a fear that CEOs can be removed if they think too far out,” Barton said. “But a lot of big decisions made in business take more than a quarter to see if they’re going to work or not.”

About the Event

On Thursday, February 4, Dominic Barton will be on campus for a Becton Distinguished Visitor speaker event. Barton is the global managing director at McKinsey & Company. He is visiting as part of the Becton Fellowship Program, which brings distinguished practitioners from public and private institutions to Yale to elevate discussions within Yale SOM and to strengthen the School’s relationships across all sectors and regions of the world.

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