Mastering the McKinsey Ecosystem Building Game: Expert Tips for Success

One of the main minigames in the McKinsey Solve game (PSG) is the Ecosystem Building game. This means that it is one of the mini-games McKinsey candidates are most likely to encounter. This article aims to provide you with valuable tips and strategies to help you master the Ecosystem Building game and maximize your chances of success in McKinsey PSG. Whether you’re familiar with the game or encountering it for the first time, these expert tips will give you a competitive edge and help you excel in this particular mini-game.


Table of Contents

Brief overview of the Ecosystem Building game in McKinsey PSG

In this game, you’ll be presented with two living environments: “the Reef” and “the Mountain.” Each environment has its own set of data for species requirements and terrain specifications. However, the strategies we’ll discuss can be applied to both environments.

Typically, the Ecosystem Building game allows you 35 minutes to complete it. You’ll notice a time bar at the top of the screen, reminding you of the time constraint. Your objective is to create an ecosystem with eight species from a list of 40. To succeed, you must accomplish three key objectives:

  1. Form a continuous food chain within the ecosystem.
  2. Ensure a calorie surplus for every pair of predator and prey, meaning the prey’s production is higher than the predator’s consumption.
  3. Match the terrain specifications of the chosen location within the ecosystem.
Once you have determined your optimal food chain, you’ll submit your solution and proceed to the next phase of the game. It’s important to note that unlike previous versions, the game no longer provides immediate feedback on the correctness of your solution.

While the Ecosystem Building game is generally considered less time-pressured and more achievable than other mini-games, it still requires a strategic approach. Process scores play a significant role in differentiating candidates in this component of the McKinsey assessment.

Evaluation criteria and skills assessed

To excel in the Ecosystem Building game, it’s crucial to understand the evaluation criteria and the skills that McKinsey assesses through this mini-game. Although the official criteria are not explicitly communicated, the game aims to evaluate your cognitive dynamics and problem-solving skills. It assesses your critical thinking, decision-making, meta-cognition, situational awareness, and systems thinking abilities.

To achieve high scores in the game, you need to optimize both your product score (the outcomes you generate) and your process score (how you reach those outcomes). The game analyzes every keystroke and mouse movement to evaluate your approach and decision-making process. By considering these evaluation criteria, you can develop a holistic understanding of the game’s requirements and enhance your overall performance.

The Main Challenges of the Ecosystem Building Mini-Game

Like any game, the Ecosystem Building mini-game comes with its own set of challenges. It’s essential to be aware of these challenges and develop strategies to overcome them. Here are the main challenges you may face in the Ecosystem Building mini-game:

  • Absorbing a vast amount of data: The game presents you with a significant amount of data, including species specifications, terrain specifications, and eating rules. To succeed, you must absorb, calculate, analyze, and prioritize this information effectively. Filtering out relevant clues from the noise is crucial to avoid wasting time and focus on the essential aspects of the game.
  • Managing lengthy eating rules: The game involves complex eating rules that dictate the relationships between species in the ecosystem. These rules are vital for creating a functioning food chain. However, they can be challenging to remember due to their length and complexity. Familiarizing yourself with the rules and developing strategies to apply them efficiently is key to success.

Strategies for Success in the Ecosystem Building Game

Achieving the three primary outcomes mentioned earlier is the ultimate goal for candidates. Based on careful examination and research, we have distilled the experiences of former candidates into a list of tips to help you build a sustainable ecosystem in the Ecosystem Building game.

Step 1: Select the location

Choose a specific location and use scratch paper to list the terrain specifications. Look for consistent terrain specifications across all species and changing terrain specifications. Skim through the data to identify these points.

Step 2: Build the food chain

Start by selecting the apex animal with the lowest calorie needs and place it at the top of the food chain. Use scratch paper to list the food sources of the top predators. An ideal food chain consists of four levels with a total of eight species. Prioritize species with high calorie production and low calorie needs. If your food chain falls short of eight species, look for gaps and add predators or plant-eating animals to complete the chain. It’s recommended to draft the food chain on paper to aid in calculations.

Step 3: Check and adjust to make all animals fit the chain

Ensure that all the animals in the food chain meet the requirements of each location. A continuous and functional food chain is essential. Verify if each species in the food chain is supplied with enough calories and not becoming extinct due to predation. The survival of as many animals as possible is crucial. Adjust the food chain accordingly if any issues arise.

By following these steps and using the recommended tools and simulations, you’ll be better equipped to tackle the Ecosystem Building game and increase your chances of success.

Tools to improve your performance in the Ecosystem Building game

Two valuable tools can significantly aid your success in the Ecosystem Building game: note-taking templates and PSG simulations.

Note-taking template: Excel is an excellent tool for organizing data. To support McKinsey candidates, a tried-and-true Excel template specifically designed for the Ecosystem Building game is available. This template allows you to organize and structure your information effectively. You can also print it out if you prefer paper-based notes.

You can find Free Ecosystem Building Excel template in our Prospective Candidate Starter Pack

PSG Simulations: PSG simulations provide the best practice for the Ecosystem Building game. They offer a realistic experience that closely resembles the actual game, allowing you to practice and refine your skills. Simulations help you become familiar with the game mechanics and improve your decision-making process. The Simulation Package, which mirrors the Solve game, offers detailed guidebooks and realistic simulations to enhance your performance in not only the Ecosystem Building game but also other assessments within the McKinsey Solve game.

In conclusion, mastering the McKinsey Ecosystem Building game requires strategic thinking, attention to detail, and effective utilization of available tools. By following the expert tips and employing the recommended tools, you can enhance your performance and increase your chances of success in this challenging mini-game. With diligent preparation, skill refinement, and practice, you can unlock your full potential and excel in the McKinsey PSG. Best of luck on your journey to success!

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