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Anton

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4

How to proceed "brainstorming solution" and what questions to ask?

Hi, I would like to know what is the best way to proceed on brainstorming solutions. In some of the cases I've done, there is not much data/information provided to ensure that the solution is within the client's consideration, or is actionable/achievable.

I'm curious about how to drive through the process and demonstrate taking the initiative. Should I present my solutions one by one in detail, and asking whether there is data or information to confirm that this solution is feasible? As an interviewer, I found this process quite annoying (and quite common), and I feel that the candidate is repeating asking questions to "confirm" about the solution. However, I'm not sure what would be the best way to go through the process. Should I just present different possible solutions in detail and altogether, without asking data to confirm the solution will definitely solve clients' problem? Please share any thoughts. Thanks!

Hi, I would like to know what is the best way to proceed on brainstorming solutions. In some of the cases I've done, there is not much data/information provided to ensure that the solution is within the client's consideration, or is actionable/achievable.

I'm curious about how to drive through the process and demonstrate taking the initiative. Should I present my solutions one by one in detail, and asking whether there is data or information to confirm that this solution is feasible? As an interviewer, I found this process quite annoying (and quite common), and I feel that the candidate is repeating asking questions to "confirm" about the solution. However, I'm not sure what would be the best way to go through the process. Should I just present different possible solutions in detail and altogether, without asking data to confirm the solution will definitely solve clients' problem? Please share any thoughts. Thanks!

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Hi,

I have already answered a similar question. Let me copy my approach:

There are typically 3 stages of brainstorming potential solutions to a problem during McK interviewer led cases:

1) Prepare a long list of potential solutions to a problem

You need to create a MECE list of relevant ideas, which can solve the problem. Ways to approach:

  • Zero drafting - this technique helps establish what you currently know and get your initial ideas out of your brain and onto paper
  • SCAMPER technique
    • Substitute - take a part of the product, service or process etc. that you could replace with another to see whether it will result in improvements, such as efficiency gains
    • Combine - one idea might not work alone, but you could combine several ideas, processes or products into one more efficient output. A great example for a combination of two different products are cell phones with an integrated camera
    • Adapt - an idea that worked to solve one problem could also be used to solve a different problem. An example for the successful adaption to a new situation is Netflix. The company started out in 1999 as a DVD rent provider, but they quickly realized that the future belongs to online streaming and changed their product
    • Modify - Changing part or all of the product or process, or distorting it in an unusual way
    • Put to another use - put the current product or process in another purpose or use the existing product to solve problems. For example, this technique can be used to learn how to shift an existing product to another market segment or user type
    • Eliminate - eliminate inefficient processes with the goal of streamlining them. An example for eliminating is Apple’s approach to not include an optical CD drive in their laptop to make them thinner and lighter
    • Reverse - explore the innovative potential when changing the order of the process in the production line
  • Analogy thinking - explore inspiring cases and mix their top features with your industry, to come up with new powerful concepts
  • Forced connections - take two unrelated concepts and forge a relationship between them

2) Prepare a shortlist of solutions

You need to select solutions that would be financially adequate, could be achieved in the foreseeable future and do not face any constraints of the client situation.

3) Prioritize solutions

Apply 80/20 rule to select 20% of initiatives that would generate 80% of the upside effect.

Hope this helps,

Anton

Hi,

I have already answered a similar question. Let me copy my approach:

There are typically 3 stages of brainstorming potential solutions to a problem during McK interviewer led cases:

1) Prepare a long list of potential solutions to a problem

You need to create a MECE list of relevant ideas, which can solve the problem. Ways to approach:

  • Zero drafting - this technique helps establish what you currently know and get your initial ideas out of your brain and onto paper
  • SCAMPER technique
    • Substitute - take a part of the product, service or process etc. that you could replace with another to see whether it will result in improvements, such as efficiency gains
    • Combine - one idea might not work alone, but you could combine several ideas, processes or products into one more efficient output. A great example for a combination of two different products are cell phones with an integrated camera
    • Adapt - an idea that worked to solve one problem could also be used to solve a different problem. An example for the successful adaption to a new situation is Netflix. The company started out in 1999 as a DVD rent provider, but they quickly realized that the future belongs to online streaming and changed their product
    • Modify - Changing part or all of the product or process, or distorting it in an unusual way
    • Put to another use - put the current product or process in another purpose or use the existing product to solve problems. For example, this technique can be used to learn how to shift an existing product to another market segment or user type
    • Eliminate - eliminate inefficient processes with the goal of streamlining them. An example for eliminating is Apple’s approach to not include an optical CD drive in their laptop to make them thinner and lighter
    • Reverse - explore the innovative potential when changing the order of the process in the production line
  • Analogy thinking - explore inspiring cases and mix their top features with your industry, to come up with new powerful concepts
  • Forced connections - take two unrelated concepts and forge a relationship between them

2) Prepare a shortlist of solutions

You need to select solutions that would be financially adequate, could be achieved in the foreseeable future and do not face any constraints of the client situation.

3) Prioritize solutions

Apply 80/20 rule to select 20% of initiatives that would generate 80% of the upside effect.

Hope this helps,

Anton

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Hello!

Here are my toughts:

Hello!

Here are my toughts:

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Hi there,

I would consider the following steps to brainstorm options and select one:

  1. Ask for one minute of time to structure your thoughts
  2. Present a first level of the structure, made by MECE buckets. This is something you can do even if you have never seen that question before. If you go blank, you can use a structure as X vs Non-X. Potential divisions include: Long term vs short term; Current vs New; Financial vs Non-financial. The more you practice cases in the right way, the more you will be able to derive appropriate MECE areas fitting a case.
  3. Brainstorm options in each of the areas. Your creativity in this area is directly correlated with the number of cases you have done. If you feel weak in one specific industry, the most effective strategy is to go through a good consulting MBA casebook (there are many available for free online – although not all are good) and screen the list for the industries interesting for you. MBA casebooks are not good in terms of the structure of the case but can help to develop creativity.
  4. State a hypothesis on what makes more sense for the client and ask data to verify it. You should show a hypothesis-driven approach to select the best option, instead of proceeding randomly.

Best,

Francesco

Hi there,

I would consider the following steps to brainstorm options and select one:

  1. Ask for one minute of time to structure your thoughts
  2. Present a first level of the structure, made by MECE buckets. This is something you can do even if you have never seen that question before. If you go blank, you can use a structure as X vs Non-X. Potential divisions include: Long term vs short term; Current vs New; Financial vs Non-financial. The more you practice cases in the right way, the more you will be able to derive appropriate MECE areas fitting a case.
  3. Brainstorm options in each of the areas. Your creativity in this area is directly correlated with the number of cases you have done. If you feel weak in one specific industry, the most effective strategy is to go through a good consulting MBA casebook (there are many available for free online – although not all are good) and screen the list for the industries interesting for you. MBA casebooks are not good in terms of the structure of the case but can help to develop creativity.
  4. State a hypothesis on what makes more sense for the client and ask data to verify it. You should show a hypothesis-driven approach to select the best option, instead of proceeding randomly.

Best,

Francesco

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You need to picture yourself at the client site, in front of a whiteboard, with your team, figuring out what you need to do next on this project. Truly reflect on what you need, what you're missing, or what you don't currently understand about the situation. Then, ask questions (where needed) .

Some other concrete tips includes:

  1. Practice/Prepare - The more you practice cases, read case studies and articles (The Economist, The FT, etc), the more "example" you'll have, as you just have more base knowledge to work with.
  2. Repivot and Frame - Pause. And look at the ideas you've come up with. Talk to the interview while you frame/group them. This 1) Shows them you can organise your thoughts 2) Helps you gain some time AND identify potential holes yourself 3) Gives them a window to point you in the right direction (they might say "Ok, that's a good bucket, but it's missing something" or " You're missing a bucket that relates to what you';ve said here")
  3. Ask for Help - This is a tricky one to navigate, but you can ask questions or make statements that try to glean more information from them. For example, "I'm out of ideas, but have any competitors excelled in any areas"..."Do we have any analysis on this?"..."etc. etc.

If you want to practice this, please feel free PM me. I've helped countless people with this through intensive exercises - you'll see dramatic results after just one session.

You need to picture yourself at the client site, in front of a whiteboard, with your team, figuring out what you need to do next on this project. Truly reflect on what you need, what you're missing, or what you don't currently understand about the situation. Then, ask questions (where needed) .

Some other concrete tips includes:

  1. Practice/Prepare - The more you practice cases, read case studies and articles (The Economist, The FT, etc), the more "example" you'll have, as you just have more base knowledge to work with.
  2. Repivot and Frame - Pause. And look at the ideas you've come up with. Talk to the interview while you frame/group them. This 1) Shows them you can organise your thoughts 2) Helps you gain some time AND identify potential holes yourself 3) Gives them a window to point you in the right direction (they might say "Ok, that's a good bucket, but it's missing something" or " You're missing a bucket that relates to what you';ve said here")
  3. Ask for Help - This is a tricky one to navigate, but you can ask questions or make statements that try to glean more information from them. For example, "I'm out of ideas, but have any competitors excelled in any areas"..."Do we have any analysis on this?"..."etc. etc.

If you want to practice this, please feel free PM me. I've helped countless people with this through intensive exercises - you'll see dramatic results after just one session.