Cookie and Privacy Settings

This website uses cookies to enable essential functions like the user login and sessions. We also use cookies and third-party tools to improve your surfing experience on preplounge.com. You can choose to activate only essential cookies or all cookies. You can always change your preference in the cookie and privacy settings. This link can also be found in the footer of the site. If you need more information, please visit our privacy policy.

Data processing in the USA: By clicking on "I accept", you also consent, in accordance with article 49 paragraph 1 sentence 1 lit. GDPR, to your data being processed in the USA (by Google LLC, Facebook Inc., LinkedIn Inc., Stripe, Paypal).

Manage settings individually I accept
expert
Expert with best answer

Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

389 Meetings

8,053 Q&A Upvotes

USD 239 / Coaching

2

Non Traditional Approach to Solving a Strategy Case

"A leading manufacturer of instant cameras and one-hour photo finishing machines is facing a dramatic downturn in business due to the rapid increase in digital photography and sharing photos over the Internet. What should it do?"

I stumbled across the above question in another post. The traditional case approach as I see it is one of drivers i.e clarifying questions to crystalize the problem, then a "bucketed" driver approach to build a decision tree, then recommendations following prioritization of the drivers.

When I was thinking about the above problem, however, I came up with a different approach. Firstly, my clarifying questions were designed to give an unambiguous problem statement to conclude that the drop in sales is purely due to the adoption of digital photography (i.e. no management team problems, no marketing/brand problems, no distribution problems etc). This is plausible given the nature of the problem (VHS vs CD - adapt to the new technology or dissapear). Secondly, identify how the client can get a piece of the new digital photgraphy value chain - 3 buckets here; digital camera production, digital photorgraphy finishing software (eg. photoshop type of product), digital photo platform for storing and sharing (e.g. Flickr type of product). I am in effect identifying 3 possible courses of action upfront (rather than firstly building a decision tree to identify drivers of the problem). Thirdly, I will then build a decision tree off these buckets (build, buy or partner) to identify what is possible and what is executable. Fourthly, give recommendations based off capabilities and what will have the biggest short to mid term impact.

Correct me if I am wrong, but this would be a bottom up approach. I start off identifying potential solutions then work provide recommendations dependant on whether they executable in the given time frame. Would this approach be acceptable in a real MBB case interview on the proviso that I make it very clear up front that I am approaching it like this?

"A leading manufacturer of instant cameras and one-hour photo finishing machines is facing a dramatic downturn in business due to the rapid increase in digital photography and sharing photos over the Internet. What should it do?"

I stumbled across the above question in another post. The traditional case approach as I see it is one of drivers i.e clarifying questions to crystalize the problem, then a "bucketed" driver approach to build a decision tree, then recommendations following prioritization of the drivers.

When I was thinking about the above problem, however, I came up with a different approach. Firstly, my clarifying questions were designed to give an unambiguous problem statement to conclude that the drop in sales is purely due to the adoption of digital photography (i.e. no management team problems, no marketing/brand problems, no distribution problems etc). This is plausible given the nature of the problem (VHS vs CD - adapt to the new technology or dissapear). Secondly, identify how the client can get a piece of the new digital photgraphy value chain - 3 buckets here; digital camera production, digital photorgraphy finishing software (eg. photoshop type of product), digital photo platform for storing and sharing (e.g. Flickr type of product). I am in effect identifying 3 possible courses of action upfront (rather than firstly building a decision tree to identify drivers of the problem). Thirdly, I will then build a decision tree off these buckets (build, buy or partner) to identify what is possible and what is executable. Fourthly, give recommendations based off capabilities and what will have the biggest short to mid term impact.

Correct me if I am wrong, but this would be a bottom up approach. I start off identifying potential solutions then work provide recommendations dependant on whether they executable in the given time frame. Would this approach be acceptable in a real MBB case interview on the proviso that I make it very clear up front that I am approaching it like this?

(edited)

2 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

389 Meetings

8,053 Q&A Upvotes

USD 239 / Coaching

Hi Daria,

Seems like you came up with a solution even before studying the problem properly. Several examples:

  • What if the downturn is in a particular country but we can still sell the machines in less-developed countries?
  • What if we just sell this company if it is not too late? Merge with someone?
  • What if the b2c demand is declining but there is a b2b market?
  • What if the company has no software capabilities? In this case, building a software product equals starting an entirely new company.

I know that most of the case books recommend you to start with the hypothesis. But I think you are going a bit too far and your value chain is, in fact, a mix of different solutions. Moreover, I am not sure if all the solutions you've mentioned appeared simultaneously with the launch of digital cameras.

I will provide just one example: When Google is thinking of launching a new product - they always start with identifying customer needs and what are the gaps in existing products to satisfy these needs.

I like your clarifying questions, but with the structure, I will use the following:

  • Market - identifying if there is still demand for these or related products in other countries / b2b space
  • Customers - to understand what are the new trends and which products came as a replacement
  • Company - to understand our capabilities and find out whether we can satisfy this new demand
  • Benefits and costs of the proposed solution

Best,

Vlad

Hi Daria,

Seems like you came up with a solution even before studying the problem properly. Several examples:

  • What if the downturn is in a particular country but we can still sell the machines in less-developed countries?
  • What if we just sell this company if it is not too late? Merge with someone?
  • What if the b2c demand is declining but there is a b2b market?
  • What if the company has no software capabilities? In this case, building a software product equals starting an entirely new company.

I know that most of the case books recommend you to start with the hypothesis. But I think you are going a bit too far and your value chain is, in fact, a mix of different solutions. Moreover, I am not sure if all the solutions you've mentioned appeared simultaneously with the launch of digital cameras.

I will provide just one example: When Google is thinking of launching a new product - they always start with identifying customer needs and what are the gaps in existing products to satisfy these needs.

I like your clarifying questions, but with the structure, I will use the following:

  • Market - identifying if there is still demand for these or related products in other countries / b2b space
  • Customers - to understand what are the new trends and which products came as a replacement
  • Company - to understand our capabilities and find out whether we can satisfy this new demand
  • Benefits and costs of the proposed solution

Best,

Vlad

Book a coaching with Cameron

3 Meetings

26 Q&A Upvotes

USD 189 / Coaching

Daria,

Great Question and not an unusual case by any means. I think your approach is very logical and would be happy seeing that as an interviewer. There is really no right answer and you have clearly thought about the problem and structured it in a logical way (what the case interviewer is looking for). What you have highlighted here is a hypothesis tree rather than an issue tree, which is absolutely fine.

one comment - I would suggest trying to explain a little further why the three stages of the value chain you identified are the best possible course - what about accessories, etc. You can also things like the Kodak case (worth a read irrespective). I would also encourage you to outline the criteria you would use to assess which option to pursue instead of heading straight down the route of identifying paths to achieve each.

Finally, it is much harder to build a hypothesis tree than an issue tree, so I would suggest going down the issue tree route unless you are really confident on the options (like you are in this case).

thanks

Cameron

Daria,

Great Question and not an unusual case by any means. I think your approach is very logical and would be happy seeing that as an interviewer. There is really no right answer and you have clearly thought about the problem and structured it in a logical way (what the case interviewer is looking for). What you have highlighted here is a hypothesis tree rather than an issue tree, which is absolutely fine.

one comment - I would suggest trying to explain a little further why the three stages of the value chain you identified are the best possible course - what about accessories, etc. You can also things like the Kodak case (worth a read irrespective). I would also encourage you to outline the criteria you would use to assess which option to pursue instead of heading straight down the route of identifying paths to achieve each.

Finally, it is much harder to build a hypothesis tree than an issue tree, so I would suggest going down the issue tree route unless you are really confident on the options (like you are in this case).

thanks

Cameron

Related case(s)

MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

Solved 7.2k times
MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
4.6 5 300
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvant ... Open whole case

Coronavirus Times - COVID-19 Brainteaser

Solved 1.6k times
Coronavirus Times - COVID-19 Brainteaser You and your family are faced with a challenging set of decisions. Due to coronavirus, your partner has taken a 20% paycut and you are worried you may lose your job. In addition, while daycare is still open, you are worried that sending your two children there will increase the risk of them bringing the virus back to your house, where your elderly grandparents are also staying. How would you go about thinking about this problem, and what would you recommend?
4.6 5 32
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)
Difficulty: Beginner | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

You and your family are faced with a challenging set of decisions. Due to coronavirus, your partner has taken a 20% paycut and you are worried you may lose your job. In addition, while daycare is still open, you are worried that sending your two children there will increase the risk of them bringing ... Open whole case

Chinese Chess - Airline Business During COVID-19

Solved 1.4k times
Chinese Chess - Airline Business During COVID-19 Sky China, a government-backed Chinese airline, has recently seen profits plummet due to COVID-19. Profits are down 80% in the months of February and March, but are showing early signs of a rebound in April.  They've brought you in to first investigate what can be done immediatedly to prevent hemorrhaging cash and surive in the short-term. They are also looking to see how the current situation can be viewed as an opportunity, and what can be done to prepare for the future. 
4.4 5 37
| Rating: (4.4 / 5.0)

Sky China, a government-backed Chinese airline, has recently seen profits plummet due to COVID-19. Profits are down 80% in the months of February and March, but are showing early signs of a rebound in April. They've brought you in to first investigate what can be done immediatedly to prevent hemor ... Open whole case

McKinsey Digital / BCG Platinion: Oil & Gas Upstream Technology

Solved 1.2k times
McKinsey Digital / BCG Platinion: Oil & Gas Upstream Technology [PLEASE NOTE: This is a technically difficult case and should only be completed by those coming in as a Technology specialist, i.e. recruiting for McKinsey Digital, BCG Platinion, etc.] Our client is a multinational oil and gas company. While they are vertically integrated and have upstream, midstream, and downstream divisions, they have recently been experiencing competitivity issues in the upstream gas division, which brings in $1B in profits annually. Our client’s upstream division has offices in Australia and Indonesia. Their work is highly dependent on their IT systems, as they have to constantly monitor wells and pipes (pressure, hydrocarbon count, fluid makeup, etc.) The upstream division has two large legacy IT systems that are primarily used for downstream operations but have been modified for upstream purposes. These systems are managed by a central team in the US which is responsible for all IT issues across the business. They triage issues/enhancements and then manage development teams in India and Finland who complete the work.
4.5 5 31
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)

[PLEASE NOTE: This is a technically difficult case and should only be completed by those coming in as a Technology specialist, i.e. recruiting for McKinsey Digital, BCG Platinion, etc.] Our client is a multinational oil and gas company. While they are vertically integrated and have upstream, midstr ... Open whole case

Hot Wheels

Solved 1.0k times
Hot Wheels Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability.
4.5 5 41
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)

Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability. Open whole case