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Categories of case questions

Hello Community!

After reading through two books on case preparation I feel a bit lost on the different types of cases that are presented, and the individual approaches and frameworks applied to these questions. To me this feels very artificial, and I can't imagine real consultants approaching a strategy project like the frameworks in these books. Is there a more "natural" way to approach cases of different categories? And if so, why are these case books so artificial? I feel a bit overwhelmed right now in all honesty. Thank you!

Hello Community!

After reading through two books on case preparation I feel a bit lost on the different types of cases that are presented, and the individual approaches and frameworks applied to these questions. To me this feels very artificial, and I can't imagine real consultants approaching a strategy project like the frameworks in these books. Is there a more "natural" way to approach cases of different categories? And if so, why are these case books so artificial? I feel a bit overwhelmed right now in all honesty. Thank you!

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Coaching mit Sidi vereinbaren

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Hi!

If you want to become really strong in thinking through cases, forget about all these types listed in the books (market entry, product launch, m&a etc.) These categories are completely useless. At the core, there is only three types of cases (at least at the big MBB companies):

  1. Strategic decisions
  2. Diagnostics
  3. Brainstorming questions

Essentialy any business situation belongs into one of these types. Each type can be adressed with a set of fundamental first principles, starting from the concrete question and then defining the logic according to which this very question can be answered.

Once you understand how to properly think through these types of issues, you become completely independent of the typical frameworks that you can find in the canonical case literature, while at the same time being a million times more rigorous and bullet proof.

For example, it doesn't make any sense to have different frameworks for "M&A cases", "Market Entry Cases", "Product Launch Cases", "Capacity Expansion cases", etc.. All these situations share the same core issue and the LOGIC according to which they need to be solved is 100% identical! Without understanding this, a person will never ever be able to rigorously approach cases and always remain a "framework monkey" who has to rely on luck and gets confused as soon as some unforeseen notions appear in the case which don't fit the framework.

This is the big tragedy with the available case literature (which I have seen) - it teaches a fundamentally flawed way of thinking (or lack thereof).

Cheers, Sidi

Hi!

If you want to become really strong in thinking through cases, forget about all these types listed in the books (market entry, product launch, m&a etc.) These categories are completely useless. At the core, there is only three types of cases (at least at the big MBB companies):

  1. Strategic decisions
  2. Diagnostics
  3. Brainstorming questions

Essentialy any business situation belongs into one of these types. Each type can be adressed with a set of fundamental first principles, starting from the concrete question and then defining the logic according to which this very question can be answered.

Once you understand how to properly think through these types of issues, you become completely independent of the typical frameworks that you can find in the canonical case literature, while at the same time being a million times more rigorous and bullet proof.

For example, it doesn't make any sense to have different frameworks for "M&A cases", "Market Entry Cases", "Product Launch Cases", "Capacity Expansion cases", etc.. All these situations share the same core issue and the LOGIC according to which they need to be solved is 100% identical! Without understanding this, a person will never ever be able to rigorously approach cases and always remain a "framework monkey" who has to rely on luck and gets confused as soon as some unforeseen notions appear in the case which don't fit the framework.

This is the big tragedy with the available case literature (which I have seen) - it teaches a fundamentally flawed way of thinking (or lack thereof).

Cheers, Sidi

Coaching mit Ian vereinbaren

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Hi there,

Your statement "I can't imagine real consultants approaching a strategy project like the frameworks in these books" is so spot on!

Frameworks should not be random buckets of ideas. Rather, they should fundamentally look and feel more like a project plan than anything.

The case books are artificial because it's really hard to communicate this concept/mindset shift in casing by text....hence why case practice and coaching is so important!

Fundamentally, your framework and "buckets" should be about the major areas you want to investigate, how you want to investigate them, why, and in what order.

For example, if we're talking market entry

  1. First - is the market good? Is it big and is it growing? Objectively, regardless of player, is it a space we want to me in?
  2. Second - would we do well in it? If we like the market as a whole, can we actually win? Is our product/company better than the competition? Will we be able to sell our products at a good margin and make profits?
  3. Finally - in practice, can we actually do this? Theorectically we can win, but will we actually? Have we entered a market before (and to what result)? Do we have the $ and know-how? Will the government allow us? How will competition react?

So, you see, we're not just doing a bucket called "Market", "Company", and "Competition" here. We need to talk about what a sound analytical approach over x period of time would look like!

Hi there,

Your statement "I can't imagine real consultants approaching a strategy project like the frameworks in these books" is so spot on!

Frameworks should not be random buckets of ideas. Rather, they should fundamentally look and feel more like a project plan than anything.

The case books are artificial because it's really hard to communicate this concept/mindset shift in casing by text....hence why case practice and coaching is so important!

Fundamentally, your framework and "buckets" should be about the major areas you want to investigate, how you want to investigate them, why, and in what order.

For example, if we're talking market entry

  1. First - is the market good? Is it big and is it growing? Objectively, regardless of player, is it a space we want to me in?
  2. Second - would we do well in it? If we like the market as a whole, can we actually win? Is our product/company better than the competition? Will we be able to sell our products at a good margin and make profits?
  3. Finally - in practice, can we actually do this? Theorectically we can win, but will we actually? Have we entered a market before (and to what result)? Do we have the $ and know-how? Will the government allow us? How will competition react?

So, you see, we're not just doing a bucket called "Market", "Company", and "Competition" here. We need to talk about what a sound analytical approach over x period of time would look like!

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Hi Anonymous,

If consulting and cracking case interviews would be so easy, all people would end up in consulting.

I believe the different types of cases are helpful in the beginning to get a rough idea on how you can approach them, and which issues typically (!) matter in those situations.

However, I'd rather like to look at the as a quick-start to assemble your own toolbox - at the end it comes down to a rigorously structured thought process which you need to learn and practice. No short-cuts here.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Hi Anonymous,

If consulting and cracking case interviews would be so easy, all people would end up in consulting.

I believe the different types of cases are helpful in the beginning to get a rough idea on how you can approach them, and which issues typically (!) matter in those situations.

However, I'd rather like to look at the as a quick-start to assemble your own toolbox - at the end it comes down to a rigorously structured thought process which you need to learn and practice. No short-cuts here.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Coaching mit Andre vereinbaren

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Dear A,

You're right. In fact that casebooks and interview preparation has not that much to do with what you're going to expect in consulting actual job. Nevertheless, this serves as a good theoretical base. Of course, I don't know what kind of books have you read before, it's hard to judge for me out of the blue of what is your current status of preparation and your knowledge. But in general, I would say that there is no one fits in all approach which you can universally apply to each and every case.

In this way, for example Victor Cheng LOMS program has its own limitations where he suggests one-fits-all approach to every type of the case. This doesn't really work out in the interviews.

By contrast, I would rather suggest you to develop a good business intuition skill so that you can create your own frameworks for each case type, where you need to be MICI and pick up every component to solve this framework.

If you need more specific details, feel dree to drop me a line, so that I can better explain you the logic and give you guidance in your further application and preparation process.

Best,

André

Dear A,

You're right. In fact that casebooks and interview preparation has not that much to do with what you're going to expect in consulting actual job. Nevertheless, this serves as a good theoretical base. Of course, I don't know what kind of books have you read before, it's hard to judge for me out of the blue of what is your current status of preparation and your knowledge. But in general, I would say that there is no one fits in all approach which you can universally apply to each and every case.

In this way, for example Victor Cheng LOMS program has its own limitations where he suggests one-fits-all approach to every type of the case. This doesn't really work out in the interviews.

By contrast, I would rather suggest you to develop a good business intuition skill so that you can create your own frameworks for each case type, where you need to be MICI and pick up every component to solve this framework.

If you need more specific details, feel dree to drop me a line, so that I can better explain you the logic and give you guidance in your further application and preparation process.

Best,

André

Hi there

Case examples in most of the well known practice materials are a fairly reasonable summary of actual cases but you are right to question the solution frameworks

I read extracts of some of the more well known books and the frameworks tend to be over simplified and often with incomplete solutions. Case books are like this because there is a serious lack of quality content so the bar isn't very high to get published

Now your other question - what's the natural way. Firstly know what qualities the consulting firm will look for and how they assess you. After that it's all about practice and I highly recommend supplementing practice with coaching sessions from an experienced interviewer. A good coach will customise their approach for you and help you build on your own unique strenghts to be able to solve cases in way that feels natural

Best

Hi there

Case examples in most of the well known practice materials are a fairly reasonable summary of actual cases but you are right to question the solution frameworks

I read extracts of some of the more well known books and the frameworks tend to be over simplified and often with incomplete solutions. Case books are like this because there is a serious lack of quality content so the bar isn't very high to get published

Now your other question - what's the natural way. Firstly know what qualities the consulting firm will look for and how they assess you. After that it's all about practice and I highly recommend supplementing practice with coaching sessions from an experienced interviewer. A good coach will customise their approach for you and help you build on your own unique strenghts to be able to solve cases in way that feels natural

Best

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