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Case Brainstorming

Anonymous A asked on May 22, 2019 - 3 answers

Hi, I have been through case practice sessions where I was asked to brainstorm some ideas and could generate some ideas. However, I came to a point where I was stuck for more ideas and the interviewer kept pressing for more. How would you suggest to deal with the situation if I have exhausted all ideas?

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replied on May 22, 2019
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That's a tough one. I have a few general suggestions:

  1. Practice/Prepare - The more you practice cases, read case studies and articles (The Economist, The FT, etc), the more "example" you'll have, as you just have more base knowledge to work with.
  2. Repivot and Frame - Pause. And look at the ideas you've come up with. Talk to the interview with you frame/group them. This 1) Shows them you can organise your thoughts 2) Helps you gain some time AND identify potential holes yourself 3) Gives them a window to point you in the right direction (they might say "Ok, that's a good bucket, but it's missing something" or " You're missing a bucket that relates to what you';ve said here")
  3. Ask for Help - This is a tricky one to navigate, but you can ask questions or make statements that try to glean more information from them. For example, "I'm out of ideas, but have any competitors excelled in any areas"..."Do we have any analysis on this?"..."etc. etc.

I hope this helps!

Vlad replied on May 22, 2019
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Questions on creativity are pretty common, so approach them in the following way:

  1. Ask an interview for a minute to think
  2. Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. organic growth / non-organic growth / differentiation). Remember to think as big as possible
  3. Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible
  4. Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

Creativity is in direct correlation with you business judgment that can be trained by solving more various cases with partner / studying various frameworks / reading industry reports / reading HBS cases

Good luck!

Anonymous updated his answer on Jun 03, 2019


with these sorts of things, it helps to perform structured brainstorming where you are generating ideas into different idea buckets that give you full coverage for what you are trying to do. This is easier than just listing ideas in random order off of the top of your head, and it also makes communication much easier.

If you are already doing this and just getting to the point where you hit a roadblock in idea generation, it can honestly be tough. Try to think of analogous situations, pull from real industry examples you know of, etc. If you are more interested in the topic, google for "creativity techniques" - academia has come up with numerous techniques for better idea generation.

Also, McKinsey published an interesting article on steps to perform better brainstorming accessible via:

Good luck! :)

Best regards