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Are frameworks by Victor Cheng or Case in Point good?

Anonymous A
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Sidi
Expert
replied on 07/04/2018
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 50+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

I have written this several times already, but let me emphasize it once again:

The different frameworks that you can find in pertinent case literature provide a very good basic toolbox in terms of which areas to look into for certain types of problems. However, they are very poor regarding HOW TO APPROACH a case and HOW TO DRAFT A ROADMAP for solving the case. This approach and roadmap needs to be rooted in rigorous and specific logic. Unfortunately the "framework learning philosophy" brought forward by, e.g., Case in Point, is the very reason why an overwhelming majority of candidates will not get an offer.

By and large, most (or probably all) casebooks on the market are teaching a fundamentally flawed way how to think about business / strategy / organizational problems! A framework as such is worth nothing if it is not embedded into the specific context of the situation! This means, each element that you want to scrutinize ("building blocks" of the framework so to speak) needs to clearly relate back to the question that you want to address! This principle should form the basis of any structure.

This is why you ALWAYS start from the specific question that you want to answer! From there, you define the criterion or criteria that need to be met in order to anwer this core question in one way or another.

In 95% of cases, value creation will be the central element. Ultimately, this is nothing else than profit generation over a specific time frame. You then draw a driver tree for profitability in order to isolate the numerical drivers for your solution. And then, only after you have drawn out the driver tree, you can map out the relevant qualitative "framework elements" to the sub branches. This approach, visualized by means of a rigorous driver tree, is much much clearer then any framework you will find in any case book. And, contrary to such frameworks, which are hanging in the air and do not logically relate back to the specific question, this is a bullet proof approach when done rigorously.

The caveat is: this requires time and qualified coaching to internalize. But ultimately, this is how consultants think about problems - how can we optimize for value creation?

Cheers, Sidi

Francesco replied on 07/04/2018
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (1600+) | Ex BCG | 800+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

Short answer: they are ok, but not good. You won’t cover all what is needed with them or will cover unnecessary elements.

Long answers: the frameworks in Case In Point analyse too many points not necessarily useful. In older versions, Case In Point also included not particular useful frameworks within the 10+ proposed (I remember it had frameworks for new businesses or turnaround which I never found useful in 150+ cases done).

Victor Cheng is the other extreme - trying to organize everything under only three frameworks (profits, business situations, M&A). Three frameworks are just not enough for a good coverage of the main types (Victor Cheng itself admits his frameworks can cover only 70% of the cases you may find. Maybe this was good some years ago when the book was published, but in today’s competitive environment, being covered on only 70% of cases you may get is just too risky).

Since I couldn't find good supporting material for my coaching from external books, in the end I developed my own frameworks, which are enough to cover 90% of the cases you may find and at the same time not listing unnecessary elements as the Cosentino's ones. I would recommend you do the same, thus take some inspiration from either Cosentino or Cheng, but let your frameworks evolve with practice.

Specifically, a good method to use to developed your own structures is the following:

  1. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. As mentioned, don’t focus too much on the structures proposed in the books, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  2. Start to read MBA Consulting Handbook – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insides. Try to read at least a new case per day – in this way you will absorb a lot better the information with constant learning.
  3. After having read the first 10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only.
  4. Once you feel you are not improving anymore, if you have a tight time constraint or if you want a realistic assessment of your level, consider using experts support to strengthen your performance.

Best,

Francesco

(edited)

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