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Fragmenting/modifying the case structure? & asking for time to think?

Anonymous A asked on Oct 30, 2018 - 3 answers

Hello Preplounge Community,

I have two questions:

1) In cases that require identifying where an issue lies, its cause and potential solutions/reccomendations ( ex: profit decline). Is it acceptable to lay out a structure for each part seperately? ie: Initially just presenting the profitability framework to analyze where the issue is and once that is identified then i can layout a different framework to analyze factors causing this loss and another for potential solutions. My concern is that it may appear as I did not have a comprehensive structure initially?

2) I prefer requesting a few moments to structure my thoughts whenever I'm asked to brainstorm or whenever I'm asked questions in a Mck case. Is there a limit to doing so ?

Thank you !


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Benjamin replied on Oct 31, 2018
ex-Manager - Natural and challenging teacher - Taylor case solving, no framework
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In such cases, the initial structure expected should be able to cover systematically and independantly all the possible root causes (e.g. value chain). then you could for instance offer to investigate one by one each area, and once you identified which one is the root cause adapt your sturcture to offer suggestions



updated his answer on Oct 30, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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1) Your structure is not limited to the initial structure. You should be constantly structuring during the case, drilling down to solve the problem and find the root cause. So yes, build another structure

2) Always take:

  • 1-2 min for initial structure. But the faster the better. 1.5 looks fine
  • Up to 1 minute for the conclusion. Again, the faster the better. But always take the time! Your conclusion should be very well structured and your arguments should include supporting numbers and you need time to collect them
  • 30 sec - 1 min for questions on creativity. It's really hard to be creative "On-the-go"

It's a bit more tricky with taking time during the case:

  • It's not OK to take 30 seconds and then come up with just 1 or 2 ideas. And then if the ideas are not correct to keep the science again. This is called "Guessing"
  • It's OK to take 30 seconds, draw a new structure (or continuation of your previous structure) and come up with a structured way to approach the problem further.




replied on Oct 30, 2018
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1. Especially at MBB where cases can be complex, you can absolutely present an initial structure (profitability in your example) then pivot and create a new framework mid-way through the case once you identified the problem and now need to find the optimal resolution for example

2. Yes! Brainstorming in particular is a trick, don't fall for it and start blurting out possibilities as they coem to mind. Always ask for a little time and build a framework so you can organize your thoughts and showcase your structuring skills. 30 seconds to 1 minute is probably ok. I don't mind applicants asking for time to think once or twice through the case, better doing this than thinking on the fly and missing an obviously connection or getting lost