Improved structuring skills to be less generic, however now they are too confusing

case structure Framework strategic plan Structure
New answer on Feb 29, 2024
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 08, 2024

Hey Everyone!

I recently changed my approach when it comes to structuring to be less generic (not fitting Case in Point or Victor Cheng structures any more!). I am being much more problem-oriented and more creative in the dimensions of my structure. Shout out to the 'Crafting Cases' gents on that!

I have new issues to work on now:

1) My structures are too detailed/ deep and come out as confusing (to both myself and my mock-interview partners). This is mainly because I want to analyze A LOT of relevant (maybe not-so relevant) items in the case. It is just not coming out as smooth.

2) It is taking me much more time to come up with the components of structure (3mins +)

3) That ‘fear’ factor is creeping back up during the mock interviews because the structure isn't 'perfect'

Problem in Brief: I feel now I am ‘boiling the ocean’; not a trait most firms are looking for when they are hiring prospective consultants.

Potential causes: 

1)Not prioritizing my hypotheses during the case.   

2) Not fully understanding the SCOPE of the problem AND/OR not knowing which hypothesis/ components to use; panicking and resorting to using relevant yet not the 'right' components.

3) Not being ‘creative’ enough - Not sure about this; could be giving in to my negative self-talk at the moment (lol)

My plan of action: Practicing structuring drills on myself (timing/ recording myself). I need to trust the process.

However I don't have much time for my interviews and I am worried I might not perform well. 

What should I do? Horrible experience with some coaches (exorbitant fees for not any additional value)

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Gero
Expert
updated an answer on Feb 09, 2024
Ex-BCG │200+ Interviews & Interview Coachings @ BCG │ 20+ candidates coached into MBB │WHU/LSE/Nova │ Teacher & Trainer

Hi there,

First of all, great that you have overcome using memorized frameworks. Let's see what might be the issue based on your description. 

I hypothesize that you are a bottom-up thinker who comes up with numerous very specific ideas but fails to quickly aggregate these ideas to come up with a logical structure of more higher level points. Good for creativity, bad for structuring (which is more important).

If that resonates, perhaps you can benefit from the following advice:

  • Possible misconception: Please understand that a good framework is not good because it contains many items. It is good because it provides a logical roadmap to solving the problem at hand. Instead of coming up with more and more ideas, you should focus on creating a meaningful and exhaustive structure. This structure shows that you would find all relevant ideas if given enough time. That is the point, as you correctly concluded you do not have the time in a case interview and a case interview is not designed to test if you can find all relevant detailed ideas. The problem is NOT that your framework is somehow too exhaustive. Rather, your framework might contain so many specific ideas that it is impossible to work through them in the time frame of a case interview.
  • What you should focus on: In order to counter your tendency of getting a long list of ideas, I would recommend that you focus on being MECE in the top levels of your framework. Using your term “items”, strive to find the best containers for all relevant items rather than the items themselves.
  • How you can improve: The way to do this if you are a bottom-up thinker is to develop a push towards finding higher level containers for each specific idea you have. E.g. when you think of a specific revenue lever in a revenue increase case, think of a higher-level container/point for that type of levers and put that one down. The trick here is to determine how the idea relates to the case question, e.g. “How does this revenue lever actually impact revenues”. Thus, you can quickly identify a causal chain. When you have identified higher-level points, you can go on the find neighbouring points that essentially answer the same question on the same logical level, e.g. “How else can the client drive revenues”. You can apply these two techniques, aggregating points and finding neigbouring points, iteratively to come up with the meaningful and MECE framework needed.

I hope that helps to clarify the topic!

Best,

Gero

(edited)

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Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 09, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hey!

First of all, you're on the right track. 

The struggles that you're having are absolutely normal when transitioning from frameworks to actually thinking through the problem and coming up with tailored structures.

And congrats on dropping the old-school methodologies, which, at best, can help you have an average performance during the interview. 

What you need now is feedback on your structures from somebody with experience. That means either distinctive candidates or, ideally, existing consultants who probe you on the approach. 

I also run a first principles workshop and in case you're interested in reading more about it, you can do so here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/coaching-packages-5/first_principles_structuring_masterclass

A few tips to consider:

1. Check whether your structures are ‘operational’. Meaning, make sure that they actually lead the discussion towards an answer for the client. 

What ends up happening often is that as candidates get better at structuring, they become super exploratory and forget about where they need to get in the first place. 

2. See if you have sufficient information to form an emerging hypothesis from the beginning. 

This will help you have tighter structures that focus more on what matters rather than absolutely everything. Don't push it though. If you don't have enough data to suggest a hypothesis, then don't suggest one. 

3. Prioritise. Provide a high-level presentation of your approach and only dig deeper into the areas that you believe matter more for the beginning of the analysis. Explain this to the interviewer, making them aware that you are strategically going deeper for now only in what is immediately important, but that you are happy to go deeper into the other areas as well if required. 

4. Work on note-taking. 

Developing frameworks often takes very long not because of the actual brainstorming and structuring, but because of how candidates take notes. 

Make sure that you use bullet points and keywords rather than full phrases. Train yourself to develop most of the points live rather than writing them down. 

Hope these get you going in the right direction!
Cristian

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 10, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

This is a tough one. However, so glad to hear Crafting Cases help you - I always recommend them as they do great structing!

There are a bunch of frameworking workshops that you can attend (do a google search).

You could also try coaching again (but filter more by having intro calls, talking to past candidates of those coaches etc.)

Here's some reading to help as well:

How to Shift Your Mindset to Ace the Case
 

Candidate-Led Cases: What to Expect With Example Cases

 

=================FRAMEWORKING==================

Frameworking/Case Driving

First, remember that casing isn't just about memorizing every step, industry, case type, etc. It's about learning how to be adaptable and nimble. So, always be prepared for the unexpected.

1. All cases are structured, wheather you realise the structure or not. It's your job to keep it organised and keep it to a good flow/framework!

2. Figure out what data/information you need and ask for it: The interviewer won't just give it to you (just like your client won't know what you need from them). Use your framework to dive into areas! If your interviewer insists they don't have data in that area (after you've gone specific), then go into another area of your framework (or expand out).

3.In this case try and keep a mini framework in your head. You can write as you talk as well.

When you say "not those kinds of questions an interview-led style would ask" this shows me that you're limited in your preparation....don't come in expecting a certain format/style! Be ready to drive your own case if needed. Think if you were on a real life project and asked to lead it...this is what they need you to demonstrate!

Frameworks

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.

HOW to learn/think in the right way.

  1. Frame based on the objective: Identify exactly what the objective is, then think about the areas you would look at to solve the problem.
  2. Think of buckets as "building blocks" - understand the 10-odd buckets that exist out them (Market, Product, Company, How to Enter, etc.). Learn these, and what their used for, then think of them as ingredients that you then pluck out and tailor to your framework.
  3. Practice with Introduction, then End, then framework:
    1. ​ Practice a number of cases where you hear just the introduction, then build a framework.
    2. THEN, look at the end of the case and what conclusion was made, and re-do your framework.
    3. THEN, look at what framework(s) was/were proposed as the answer.
  4. Read the Economist religiously: The Economist is an excellent, longer-term base knowledge/thinking resource for you. I've found that reading the Economist over the years has been instrumental in helping to shape my thinking and holistically understand problems, whether political, economic, social, or anything in between. Feel free to throw in the Financial Times or BCG Insights into the mix!
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Pedro
Expert
updated an answer on Feb 29, 2024
30% off in April 2024 | Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

While I trust you definitely improved, I believe your problem now comes from using Crafting Cases, which are great at the “2nd Tier” of your answer, but not very useful for the 1st Tier. 

In other words, you know all the detailed questions to ask, but not the 3-4 issues you are trying to solve.

So that's it, you have to start by thinking about the 3-4 things that will be critical to provide a recommendation and then go from there.

I honestly suggest a coaching session. If other sessions were expensive and not good, I wonder if you tried to understand the coach approach beforehand - some just provide overpriced interview simulations, and not really a mentoring experience. I am one of those coaches that provides true mentoring and definitely not overpriced. Feel free to reach out and have a quick discussion. You are putting good effort and deserve a better outcome.

(edited)

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Gero gave the best answer

Gero

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