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Non-Profit/Public Sector/Non-Traditional Case Strategies

John asked on Jul 21, 2018 - 1 answer
Currently prepping for Bain and Mck interviews. Looking for partners to case with.

2 main questions:

1. What are your favorite non-profit or non-traditional cases? (I include things like process improvement and organizational restructuring in these categories)

2. What questions, areas of emphasis, or considerations do you make with non-profit cases?

I've experienced some trouble with non-profit/public sector cases recently, particularly with clearly defining objectives (yes, I make sure to define the objective at the beginning of every case) and the best way to measure impact. I'd like to hear any advice, plus any answers to the two questions above. Thanks


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replied on Jul 21, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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These types of cases are actually pretty traditional, especially for McKinsey. The reason why people think that they are rare is that the casebooks (that are in general not a good source of cases) do not have enough of them.

To provide a bit of structure, there are several types of non-profit cases:

  1. Factors influencing the price (What are the factors influencing the price of oil? Factors influencing the price of real estate?)
  2. Macroeconomic cases (How will you improve life expectancy in a particular city? How will you decrease the unemployment?)
  3. Public sector non-profits (Increasing the revenues of a museum; increasing the revenues from tourism in a city)
  4. Redesigning the processes (How will you develop a new anti-monopoly regulation?)
  5. Non-profit investments (A billionaire is building a new school. What are the factors to look at?)
  6. Ops and cost-cutting (How to reduce the traffic jams on a bridge? A garbage processing facility is out of capacity, what should they do?) - I personally consider them as a separate type of cases that is pretty traditional in the offices performing a lot of ops projects.

Answering your second question about the objective - you can still define the objective for most of them. Two types of questions you should ask:

  1. Could you please clarify the model / business model? E.g. if a billionaire is building a new school, is it a school for talented kids, rich kids or mass segment? Is it going to generate revenues?
  2. What are the main criteria for success? Is it NPV, ROI, share talented kids entering the top Universities?


Thanks! I was given a non-profit case in McKinsey's 2nd round in January and it felt like a train wreck. I wish I had asked sooner. — John on Jul 22, 2018

Hey Vlad, great information provided there! In my preparation for a public sector position at McKinsey I have obviously trying to focus a bit on these social/economic cases. Similarly to the VC business situation framework, I have tried to develop a custom 'framework' for public sector cases, in which I would try to look at 4/5 things: i) Market/economy overall ii) Citizens iii) Industry iv) Government and sometimes v) academic. You might notice that my assumption would be that in public sector cases you often have an overall economy/market trend combined with actions/efforts/impacts on the so called quadruple helix. What would you think about this? — Cedric on Jul 22, 2018