How to layout visually the entire initial structure to a case

Case Structuring
Recent activity on Mar 26, 2019
2 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 26, 2019

Hi there,

I want to gauge the most appropriate way to layout the entire problem solving structure structure for a case question which balances speed/efficiency and detail in the proposed structure. E.G. for a market entry case, I may lay out a structure as follows:

1. Value driver tree to answer key client question (e.g. break even point within given time horizon) - Investment Costs, Incremental Profits, dissagregated into Incremental Revenue + Costs, further dissagregated into Incremental Volumes/Pricing + Fixed/Variable Costs etc

2. Available Capability (cash, operations, logistics etc)

3. Risk Management (regs, brand equity, competitive response etc).

I would then want to map qualitative drivers to the value tree for Break even point. E.G. customer segmentation, purchasing intentions,price sensitivity etc to pricing, total market size, likely competitive market share, customer segmentation size/growth rate etc to volumes, segmentation of investment costs/FC/VC based on client industry etc.

Should ALL of this information (value driver tree and qualitative mapping) be laid out in the initial structure for ALL cases, and if so, what is the best way to display this all visually in 1 page, and get this down in 1 minute or so?!


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replied on Mar 26, 2019
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

You need to oncentrate on the LOGIC, not on the qualitative bullet points that sit below the branches.

So make sure to include:

  1. The core Question
  2. The criterion to answer the question (most likely an equation or mathematical expression)
  3. The driver tree which disaggregates the elements of the criterion

The qualitative elements that influence each branch (like for example, market trends, customer preferences, brand perception etc. which will all influence sub branches of revenue) then only need to be outlined and positioned as examples - don't even try to come up with exhaustive bullet point lists here! It is factually impossible! Even 100 bullet points would be incomplete, so don't even try. A structure is a LOGIC! it is NOT a list of areas to look into!

Lastly, you need to understand that you will be assessed based on what you SAY while walking the interviewer through your structure! You are not assessed based on the completeness of what you have on your sheet! This is why you concentrate on having a sound logic on your sheet which will support your explanation, while the underlying qualitative bullet points are only reminder for yourself to mention a couple of them (positioning them as examples)

Cheers, Sidi

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Lawrence on Mar 26, 2019

Thanks for this feedback and I agree it makes sense. However, where is the room to impress the interview with the 'creativity' in the opening structure if you primarily focus on just mathematical equations for profits/revenues/ROIs/break even points etc? Dont we need to demonstrate wider thinking to stand out?

Sidi on Mar 26, 2019

Simple answer: no! The only thing you have to demonstrate in your approach/structure is RIGOR! Creativity can be displayed in other areas - primarily in brainstorming sections!

replied on Mar 26, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

You typically want to lay it out in a pyramid structure in front of you, at least 2 (possibly 3) levels deep.

Doing so in a minute is hard but doable; ok if you take 90 seconds frankly. Just be sure to adapt your structure to the actual question being asked, one word may change the whole approach. This is the number one mistake people make when trying to apply a standard framework to a specific problem

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Sidi gave the best answer


McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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