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Synthesis - Yes or No Questions

Someone asked on Oct 18, 2017 - 2 answers

Some cases require a "Yes" or "No" answer such as Should the client buy the company or not? If there is important information missing should we say that at this point it is not possible to conclude or is it better to say yes, the client should buy it, but we need to check factor A,B and C?


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Vlad updated his answer on Oct 19, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School


Indeed, in many cases, you can't provide a definite answer. Consultants may be testing several things:

  • Are you comfortable enough with providing preliminary recommendations based on limited data? (Imagine a CEO whom you met in the elevator and who wants to know the preliminary findings)
  • Will you make a mistake of providing a recommendation with a high level of certainty without having a proper supporting data?

Imagine a case when you have to make a decision whether a PE fund should acquire a company. You make a proper structure (Market, Competitors, Company, Feasibility of Exit) and in 25 min of a case, you've managed only to go through the Market and Competitors branches of the analysis. What will be your recommendation?

Here is how you should approach this problem:

  1. You start with an objective ("Our objective was to understand whether we should by this company")
  2. You provide a preliminary recommendation highlighting the uncertainty ("According to the limited data we have so far, our preliminary recommendation is to buy this company and there are three reasons for that...")
  3. You provide the reasons ("First of all the market is big at X and growing at Y, Secondly the competition is fragmented with the target company having x% of the market. Thirdly...")
  4. You Mention what pieces of data you need to provide a full recommendation ("Additionally, to come up with a recommendation I would like to look at the company financials, key capabilities and...")




replied on Oct 18, 2017
McKinsey alum. Experience in the US, Europe, and Middle East.

Hi there,

The second option you gave is correct. It's good to throw in a line after "Yes/No" summarizing why.

Here's an example script: "Yes, we should buy company X. The market is attractive and the company is priced below value. Before pulling the trigger, we need to confirm three things - A, B, and C."

Hope that helps!

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