Get Active in Our Amazing Community of Over 454,000 Peers!

Schedule mock interviews on the Meeting Board, join the latest community discussions in our Consulting Q&A and find like-minded Case Partners to connect and practice with!

Textbook Strategy vs Case Studies Strategy

Case structure and frameworks
Recent activity on Jan 13, 2020
4 Answers
1.3 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Jan 10, 2020

Hello, I have a question about the strategy process.

I have learnt strategy from the text book - where there is a very clear structre for strategy development, from strategic intent => external analysis => internal analysis => summarise in SWOT => then look at strategic choices...

There is also a clear definition of Corporate Strategy vs Business strategy vs Funcitonal Strategy

I get confused because now I am looking at case studies for the first time, and they don't seem to take this approch or mention these topics? Are case studies just a small portion of this whole process?

Thank you very much for any help on this!


Overview of answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Content Creator
replied on Jan 13, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


I agree with you that, in theory, case studies are just a small portion of this whole process that you describe in your post.

However, the practice seems totally different. Hence, I would focus on preparing the 30 mins business cases, that are what you are going to have in the interviews, and be very to-the-point with them.

Good luck,


Was this answer helpful?
replied on Jan 11, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Forget about the textbooks. In real life, it's completely different. It all starts with an objective (5-year strategy? Acquisition strategy? IT strategy?)

The exact process depends on the objective but usually, it includes:

  1. Diagnostics
  2. Studying competitors, best practices, etc
  3. Developing strategic initiatives
  4. Developing a business case (estimating the impact of each initiative and required investments)
  5. Prioritizing the initiatives and developing a roadmap for implementing them

Strategic cases have a mix of those things and you have a long process of learning how to solve consulting cases. There are many sources of knowledge here (Preplounge website, coaches, books, etc)


Was this answer helpful?
Content Creator
updated an answer on Jan 13, 2020
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached


Yes, you can consider the cases as a small portion of what you have learnt during your studies. Keep in mind that:

  • You have +/- 30 minutes to propose a solution for the case
  • There are a lot of people that haven't studied economics and do the interviews

I would stick to the case studies' books because that is what your interviewer is expecting from you. Anyway you have a big advantage having those concepts in your mind and you can personalize your frameworks and analyses according to them.

Hope it helps,


Was this answer helpful?
Content Creator
replied on Jan 10, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

what textbook are you talking about? The structure strictly depends on the problem type (profitability vs market entry vs M&A vs ...). To fix the theory regarding consulting business cases I strongly recommend to read Cosentino's Case in point or Cheng's Interview secrets.


Was this answer helpful?
Clara gave the best answer


Content Creator
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut
Q&A Upvotes
57 Reviews