Frustration! HELP

brainstorming Case structure and frameworks creativity issue tree MECE Structure
New answer on Feb 01, 2023
11 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 29, 2023

Hello,

I have been going through case material and learning about MECE, structuring, etc. over the last two weeks. I have gone through the crafting cases website and watched their training/videos. I am getting very frustrated as I can’t seem to even get off the starting line. When I watch how the cases are solved or the solution, I can’t even begin to understand how they thought of the first few buckets to begin with. Does anyone have any advice as to how they come up with their structures/frameworks? Do you ask yourself certain questions? Will I eventually get there by just continuing to watch/read these cases? Any help would be appreciate because no matter how much I continously read and learn how to structure I can’t seem to come up with a decent structure/tree that is MECE. I am horrible at this. 
 

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Ian
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updated an answer on Jan 30, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Quite honestly you and I should have an intro call.

I specialize in the mindset shift required to learn how to framework. I can't talk about my techniques here (for obvious reasons), but I have a tried, tested, and proven series of lessons, trainings, and exercises to get you frameworking. This can only really be learned through coaching (it's literally training in how to think like a consultant)

The below might help a bit, but honestly this isn't something that is easily learned/taught through text.

Frameworking

https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/how-to-shift-your-mindset-to-ace-the-case

If there's anything to remember in this process, is that cases don't exist just because. They have come about because of a real need to simulate the world you will be in when you are hopefully hired. As such, remember that they are a simplified version of what we do, and they test you in those areas.

As such, remember that a framework is a guide, not a mandate. In the real-world, we do not go into a client and say "right, we have a framework that says we need to look at x, y, and z and that's exactly what we're going to do". Rather, we come in with a view, a hypothesis, a plan of attack. The moment this view is created, it's wrong! Same with your framework. The point is that it gives us and you a starting point. We can say "right, part 1 of framework is around this. Let's dig around and see if it helps us get to the answer". If it does, great, we go further (but specific elements of it will certainly be wrong). If it doesn't, we move on.

So, in summary, learn your frameworks, use the ones you like, add/remove to them if the specific case calls for it, and always be prepared to be wrong. Focus rather on having a view, refering back to the initial view to see what is still there and where you need to dive into next to solve the problem.

(edited)

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Moritz
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replied on Jan 30, 2023
ex-McKinsey EM & Interviewer | 7/8 offer rate for 4+ sessions | 90min sessions with FREE exercises & videos

Hi there,

Sorry to hear about your frustration. You're definitely not alone, for what it's worth! My advice is to get coaching ASAP to get you unblocked so you're not wasting any more valuable time.

Are you preparing for McKinsey? That's where MECE structures are typically found in conjunction with the hypothesis driven approach, which is entirely different from other firms i.e., McKinsey wants answers to a specific question following the prompt (which may or may not be closely related with the client objective) and not a plan how to get answers to solve the entire case, which is what other firms expect. Those two things are fundamentally different and you must understand the difference to advance.

It's hard to explain all the finer details here because it is a complex subject. Please let me know if you'd like to discuss sometime, happy to help!

Best,

Moritz

 

 

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Anonymous B replied on Jan 30, 2023

Hi stranger,

Totally understand where you're coming from, but I must say that these things take time, especially coming from a non-business background with limited business acumen.

However, the good thing is, these things are learnable and you will be able to pick them up over time. Here's my journey:

1. Introduction to consulting interviews via Youtube and Google

I familiarised myself with consulting interviews, frameworks, guesstimate (market sizing) exercises via a few Youtube channels like MConsulting Prep and I Got a Consulting Offer to really get my journey kickstarted.

2. Self-casing

Read through and self-case yourself via beginner to medium cases with a focus on developing frameworks for each case. Take your time to develop frameworks (you'll get faster over time) and also compare your own answers to the reference ones to ensure you know what bits you often miss out.

3. Drills and live cases

Live cases with a partner then provides you with the contextual environment - higher pressure, limited time - this will get you familiarised with how a consulting interview usually goes and helps you with the assimilation. Drills from websites like Case Coach could help you further with developing breadth and depth in the type of cases you could get.

Of course, you can also get a coach to assist you with the planning or process, but I'd think you'd be better off starting yourself first, unless time is really limited.

All the best for your prep!

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Anonymous A on Jan 30, 2023

Thank you for your response! It is greatly appreciate!

Hagen
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replied on Jan 30, 2023
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

First of all, I am sorry to hear about the bad feelings you currently have, as natural as they are in the beginning of the preparation phase!

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

  • I would recommend looking into different resources as the ones you have been using may not be the most effective.
  • Additionally, I would advise you to contact me directly given I specialize in a proven method for structuring any case study. I am certain this will help you gain a deeper understanding and find a successful approach.

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

Best,

Hagen

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Cristian
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replied on Jan 30, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there, 

Sorry to hear that you're finding this frustrating. 

But you're not horrible at this. Believe me. I've see many many candidates and if I also reflect on my own experience as a candidate, all of this is coachable and learnable. For instance, I've literally worked with people who asked me during the first session if case studies are with multiple choice answers and now they work in Big4. Like them, you just need more time and the right guidance once in a while. 

What you rather do is to figure out if you can create more time and space for yourself to absorb all of this (because you certainly will absorb it with time). 

One option is also to consider working with a coach. This way you could get guidance on how to approach the process and move through it in a more efficient manner. 

Best of luck,

Cristian

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Pedro
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replied on Jan 30, 2023
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | Market Sizing Expert | 30% discount in Feb & March

I usually recommend that you put yourself in the shoes of the decision maker. 

  • You want to start a new business? How would you make that decision?
  • You want to enter a new market? What needs to be true to make you want to invest?
  • You are considering a new product? How can you be sure that it will be successful?

The problem with most frameworks that you find in books and websites is that they tend to be generic lists of things to consider, but rarely describes how one would decide (and that is why they are not that useful).

Hope this helps, but let me know otherwise.

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Florian
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replied on Jan 30, 2023
Highest-rated McKinsey coach (ratings, offers, sessions) | 500+ offers | Author of The 1% & Consulting Career Secrets

Hi there,

I think you are approaching this from the wrong end.

A framework is a tool that helps you understand and tackle problems. Change your perspective and you will have an easier way to create frameworks in the future. For instance:

Let's consider you are planning a vacation. What do you need to think of?

  • Destination
  • Mode of transport
  • Accommodation
  • Activities
  • Other (insurance,…)

I am pretty sure that you have no issues structuring the vacation planning process for yourself (however, likely you are doing this unconsciously). When it comes to case interviews, it's exactly the same approach.

Consider all parts of the problem that help you understand it and find a solution/outcome for the client.

Let me know if you need more input/insight into framework creation. It's one of my specialties. :-)

Cheers,

Florian

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Dennis
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replied on Jan 30, 2023
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

most people are going through these growing pains. It is important to practice yourself, even if you don’t crack cases on your own, try to spend some time solving it without looking at the suggested solution after each step. Reading cases and their solutions is good to get an understanding of what it is, but the learning effect is very limited.

You can get with a coach to structure and plan out your approach on how to proceed more effectively and do spot checks on your progress - but that comes at a cost of course. It is important that you keep doing the practice yourself. Get some case partners as well. If you have enough lead time, I would try to use all the free resources available first. If you are in a time crunch, you should probably make the investment for a coaching session to not let go any time to waste.

Best of luck

 

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Benjamin
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updated an answer on Feb 01, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hello,

Much useful advice has been said by the other coaches. I just want to add on a few points:

  • This is not an easy skill to master, and I have seen consultants under me still struggle with it even after a year or two on the job. I myself wasn't good at this when I started as well and trust me I received a lot of feedback on MECE etc.  → Don't be too hard on yourself, take things a step at a time and give yourself time
  • Sometimes being overly negative and doubting yourself can lead to a negative spiral. I have seen this with candidates but also consultants on the job (esp. those who are not doing well in evaluations). → Try and keep a positive mindset and try and find (whether from yourself, or from others) encouragement and belief in yourself and your abilities

All the best!

(edited)

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Adi
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replied on Jan 31, 2023
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hang in there, this is not uncommon. I faced it during my prep days and a lot of people go through what you are facing.

Break it down and start with cases on topics or industries you are familiar with. Do a few of these to build confidence and get a general feel. Slowly progress to unknown & difficult cases. Allow yourself enough time and dont forget to organise those mini-celebrations :). We all get too serious too quickly.

Focus on giving your best, your 100%. Leave the worry about outcome.

All the best.

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Allen
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replied on Jan 31, 2023
Ex-McK Experienced Hire and EM - I show you how to perform at your best

Hi there,

I'd just like to add something here.  You seem to be conflating two issues.  1) How to answer a case question 2) understanding and identifying the issues involved.  

If you “can’t even begin to understand how they thought of the first few buckets to begin with," it seems like you are struggling with the business issues themselves (such as how to lower production costs or factors to consider before entering a new market or introducing a new product).  

If I'm correct about this, then you need to read a large number of cases - but the intention should not be learning how to solve the case, since that can only be done through practice, not through reading - with the intention to learn the issues and factors involved in these decisions.  One you reach a comfort level there (not expertise), than you can get back to what you really want to do, which is learn how to crack the case!

Hope this helps,

Allen

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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