Brainstorming vs Frameworks

brainstorming questions
New answer on Feb 28, 2024
9 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 22, 2024

Hello, 

Some questions are clearly brainstorming but take the same effort to structure as a decision making question that requires a full fledged framework. I've learned the difference between those from the crafting cases material and they've included conceptual framework as a way to be mece, as of a way to create a structure for brainstorming. I find it a bit confusing, although their material is top notch in all honesty. Should I look into Victor Cheng's material to get more sense on this ? 

Appreciate any help

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Sascha
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updated an answer on Feb 22, 2024
Accenture | Digital Strategist | Empathic Case & Career Coach | Personalized sessions & training

Hey there 👋,

Brainstorming and using Frameworks are not mutually exclusive. When you utilize a framework, sometimes it is necessary to brainstorm some ideas within different stages of the framework. For example if you use the all time favorite Porters Five Forces - you need to brainstorm some influencing factors in each of the dimensions.

Vice versa, when starting with brainstorming, you need to structure your ideas in a logical and (as already previously said) MECE way. Here a standard framework can help in a lot of situations, but sometimes you need to create your own structure or “framework”.

In the interview in the end it does not really matter if you know 100 different frameworks What matters is how well you structure your thoughts and communicate your results with a consistent and concise storyline.

As simple as it sounds, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to this. The best approach is to practice as much as possible, find out your personal weaknesses in your problem solving skills and work on them until you feel confident. If in your case it is structuring, try the more complex, open and creative cases. When you master those, you should be good with the easier ones.

Hope this helps a little 😊

Cheers and happy Thursday,

Sascha

(edited)

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Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 22, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there!

I'm not fully sure that I understand the full scope of your question, but let me give it a shot. 

First of all, brainstorming questions and frameworks are essentially the same - i.e., structures. 

That means that you should take time and come up with several areas and several points under each area. The structure should be as ‘MECE’ as feasibly possible while being creative and tailored specifically to that client's situation. 

I recommend against using V.Cheng mostly because the sort of cases that are being provided these days are wildly different from the cases his book was intended to solve. 

Instead, you might find this article helpful:

And these examples of cases based on real MBB interviews from within the last year:

And if you want to go deeper, I actually run a first principle structuring workshop that help you get the foundations of zero-based thinking for an interview. More on this here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/coaching-packages-5/first_principles_structuring_masterclass

Best,
Cristian

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Florian
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replied on Feb 22, 2024
Highest-rated McKinsey coach (ratings, offers, sessions) | 500+ offers | Author of The 1% & Consulting Career Secrets

Hi there,

You should approach a brainstorming question with the same structured thinking and communication as a framework question as they essentially test for the same qualities.

Dos:

  • Broad (captures the topic well) 
  • Deep (create a structure with 2-3 levels and concrete ideas at the bottom)
  • Insightful (variety of commonsense and more creative ideas)
  • Interdependencies (consider how they affect each other)
  • Communicate top-down, numbered, and signposted

Don't:

  • Create a laundry list of ideas that you communicate with “and then”

Although I give a lot of credit to VC for starting the whole case interview prep thing on a larger scale, his materials are incredibly outdated and I do not recommend it to any candidate. 

He was at McK before the turn of the century and recruiting standards/methods have changed significantly since then! Check out my book if you want to learn a modern approach to cases (including frameworks and brainstorming).

All the best,

Florian

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Natalia
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replied on Feb 22, 2024
Sr Manager @ Manager | Career Coach | 5 years interviewing | tailored approach

Hi there,

When it comes to brainstorming, structuring your approach is key, much like building a conceptual framework.

Here's what I suggest:

1) Start by jotting down a bunch of ideas or sorting them into big categories.

2) Organize these ideas into different buckets, making sure they don't overlap and cover everything you need (MECE).

3) Lastly, consider how these buckets might relate to each other.

 If you'd like a clearer explanation or a real-life example, feel free to schedule a quick chat with me for free,

Natalia

 

PS : I think VC materials are outdated

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Nikita
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replied on Feb 28, 2024
MBB & Tier2 preparation | 85+ offers | 7 years coaching | 2000+ sessions | PDF reviews attached

Hey,

Every part of the case needs to be structured, including brainstorming.

Also, doing cases on your own lacks an essential component: quality feedback. Therefore, it's a bad preparation strategy.

To progress quickly, I suggest you take an active learning approach (in the following order):

1. Getting coaching when you are a complete beginner to learn the basics;

2. After you've learned the basics, practice cases with peers to polish your case solving process and acquire understanding of a wide range of industries and problem types;

3. Before the interview, ask a few acting consultants to give you cases in a mock-interview format to assess your readiness.

Hope this helps,
Nick

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Pedro
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replied on Feb 28, 2024
30% off in April 2024 | Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

Victor Cheng is not adequate for brainstorming (not sure he is adequate for any type of structuring, to be honest).

And you are correct, brainstorming questions are structuring questions. The difference between brainstorming and the opening framework is simple.For brainstorming, having a first layer is usually enough, whereas in the opening framework you need to identify the ~3-4 key issues to be solved, and then to define how you would get to an answer in each of them (so you have at least 2 layers).

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Alberto
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replied on Feb 24, 2024
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Hi there,

I'll try to give you a simple recipe for this.

Most cases require a framework at the beginning to understand how you will solve them, mentioning key dimensions / factors that shape the case. This framework must be MECE.

As you progress through the case, you will need to provide solutions to the challenges you uncovered related to the case questions. At this points, you should have already made some analysis and prioritized some hypotheses. Now you enter into brainstorming mode. Here, it is good enough if you provide some "buckets" to generate ideas around the solution space. While it would be ideal that those buckets are MECE too, what is really important here is that you provide solutions that make sense on the case context.

I hope this helps.

Best,

Alberto

Check out my latest case based on a real MBB interview: Sierra Springs

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Benjamin
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 24, 2024
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

They really aren't different. It's all about the ability to be structured and logical. 

There aren't many great resources out there on it, but Victor Cheng is definitely not the best resource on this.

Find someone who can walk you through the logic and help guide and build your thinking - be if friends/family/alumni network or a coach.

All the best!

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 23, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Ideally get coaching to be honest. 

Crafting cases is great and their approach aligns closely with my course/coaching as well.

Try to think of brainstorming as mini-frameworking.

Basically, you still need structure and you still need to be organized, but you don't need to be as perfectly MECE as with a framework.

I would avoid Victor Cheng.

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Sascha gave the best answer

Sascha

Accenture | Digital Strategist | Empathic Case & Career Coach | Personalized sessions & training
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