Framework/Structures | Should you include 'Possible Solutions' as a bucket?

New answer on Jan 05, 2023
4 Answers
Henk Baarsjes asked on Jan 04, 2023

Hi all, thanks again for your help on a question that I have. Often when I have a case where they are looking for a root-cause analysis + next steps I end up with a structure that is not MECE. I am wondering what some best practices are. Take the below case as an example:

“Your client is the American Southwest Preservation Trust (ASPT). The trust is a non-profit organization tasked with promoting conservation & eco-tourism in the American Southwest. One of the biggest tourist draws is local fauna, particularly coyotes. The coyote population has declined significantly from historical levels. The Trust requests your help to figure out why & what it should do."

In this example I have a structure with the following Tier 1 + Tier 2 buckets:

- Reasons why the coyote population is declining
    - Ecosystem factors
    - Dietary factors
    - Human-generated factors
    - Disease and genetics
- Possible solutions to increase population:
    - Breeding program
    - Expand ecosystem
    - Ensure that they have enough food

I think the first bucket is quite strong, but due to the second bucket there is some overlap (talking about ecosystem, food ect.) But I feel that if I skip this bucket I will miss some interesting insights (implementing breeding program).

I appreciate your insights!





Overview of answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Content Creator
replied on Jan 05, 2023
Ex-Bain and interviewer for 7+ years | >95% success rate | mentor and coach for 6+ years

Hi Henk Baarsjes (again),

I think this is an interesting question that may be relevant for many people. I would be happy to share my thoughts on it:

  • It's not uncommon to struggle with achieving complete mutual exclusivity and completeness (MECE) in a consulting case structure, especially when dealing with complex issues. In situations like this, it can be helpful to consider the following best practices:
    • Be specific: Make sure that each bucket in your structure is clearly defined and addresses a specific aspect of the problem. This can help to avoid overlap and ensure that all relevant considerations are addressed.
    • Prioritize the buckets: Consider which buckets are the most important or relevant to the client's needs and prioritize them accordingly. It may not be meaningful to provide details on potential solutions before completing a root-cause analysis. Therefore, it's important to prioritize the root-cause analysis bucket and communicate an approach for transitioning from the root-cause analysis to the solutions.
    • Use sub-buckets: If you are having trouble achieving MECE within a particular bucket, you may want to consider using sub-buckets to break the bucket down into more specific and distinct areas of focus.
    • Refine the structure: If you are still having trouble achieving MECE, consider revising the structure to make it more logical and coherent. You may need to combine or split buckets, or consider alternative ways of organizing the information.
  • Overall, the key is to be as specific and focused as possible in your structure and to prioritize the most important and relevant buckets. By following these best practices, you can help to ensure that your structure is MECE and effectively addresses the client's needs.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to address your specific situation, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.



Was this answer helpful?
Henk Baarsjes on Jan 13, 2023

You're the best, Hagen. Thanks

Content Creator
replied on Jan 04, 2023
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Reasons and next steps are not buckets.

Your framework should be your approach to solving the problem. Every single bucket includes reasons/root cause/solution/next steps. Why and what to do is part of every bucket….your buckets are the angle/themes/approach to figuring out why/what to do in a hollistic manner.

Was this answer helpful?
Henk Baarsjes on Jan 04, 2023

Thanks for your help Ian - I might rephrase next steps a little bit to: "Possible solutions". Would you have seperate bucket for possbible solutions? In this example 'implement a breeding program' does not follow from one of the other 4 buckets.

Ian on Jan 04, 2023

No. Solutions is not a bucket. Solutions literally is your entire framework (the framework is HOW you're dissecting the problem to create solutions)

Ian on Jan 04, 2023

I highly highly recommend coaching. Frameworking is something that just has to be taught live.

Anonymous replied on Jan 04, 2023

I have run this case many times - “Coyotes” from the fuqua casebook if I am not mistaken. It is one of my favourites.

The second bucket should be more centred around actionable insights which you have. You could split it into coyote related Vs non-coyote related for example. Coyote related factors are specific to them, for example food and breeding. Non-coyote relate to the ecosystem and regulations.

Happy to have a more detailed discussion on the other parts of the case.


Was this answer helpful?
Henk Baarsjes on Jan 13, 2023

Thansk again for your help !

Content Creator
replied on Jan 04, 2023
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Key thing to notice here is that you have two questions, that are totally different> what is driving that decline, and what can be done to solve it. You can choose to do one tree to tackle both, or break it in one per question. What you have now is somehow a mix. 

Hope it helps!



Was this answer helpful?
Hagen gave the best answer


Content Creator
Ex-Bain and interviewer for 7+ years | >95% success rate | mentor and coach for 6+ years
Q&A Upvotes
186 Reviews