I suggest the following approach:
1) Ask clarifying questions - they will help you build a better structure:
- Clarify the business model (i.e. how the business works and what are the revenue streams / core products or business lines)
- Clarify the objective both in money terms and timeline (e.g. Our objective is to increase profits by 5M in 5 years). When you have a to select from several options in a case - clarify the selection criteria
- Clarify other possible limitations if you feel that it's necessary
2) Repeat the objective and most important business model factors
3) Now when you've identified the most important factors - take a minute to make a structure on paper
- In some cases, you'll be able to build a fully MESE structure (e.g. Profitability, Value chain). Usually, you go 2-3 levels deep in your structure in the beginning of the case.
- In other cases, you should be using a broader structure. For example, in a private equity / due diligence case your structure can be: Market, Company, Competitors, Feasibility of exit. For the 2nd layer, you make subpoints (e.g. in the Market you put: size, growth rate, profitability, segmentation, regulation, etc). I usually use a bullet point list under each bucket.
4) When you are done - rotate the paper with a structure to the interviewer
5) Present your 1st level Hypothesis:
- - "In order to understand whether we should invest in Company A, I would like to check that the Market is Attractive, the Company is Attractive, the competition is favorable and we have good opportunities for of exit"
6) Present the key 2nd level Hypothesis:
- "In the market, I would like to make sure that the market is big enough and growing;
- In the company I would like to find additional opportunities for growth;
- In competition I would like to check that the market is fragmented enough;
- Finally, I would like to check if we have potential buyers and can achieve desired exit multiples"
7) Make sure that the interviewer can see that you are presenting selectively and that the actual list of bullet points you would like to check is actually longer.
8) You never stop using the structures. The most common feedback on the interviews is "You are not structured enough". To avoid this you should always be structuring. Make an initial structure and then dig deeper with the new structures. These structures can be both fully MESE issue trees or frameworks or a combination of both.
For example, if you find that we spend more time on cleaning the job shop than the other division you go with the following:
- Frequency of cleaning * Time spent per one cleaning
- If we find that the frequency is the same, we structure it further into: People, Process, Technology