What is a good approach to cases that don’t fit a framework?

Bain BCG case frameworks Case Prep Case structure and frameworks frameworks Mck
New answer on Mar 10, 2021
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hi asked on Mar 09, 2021

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Adi
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replied on Mar 09, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Check out these threads for clarity on this question:

  • https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/freaking-out-about-frameworks-8721
  • https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/does-anyone-have-any-advice-for-dealing-with-non-profits-or-public-sector-cases-particularly-in-helping-them-grow-9178
  • https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/hi-i-have-a-question-regarding-cases-on-new-industry-8899
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Ian
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replied on Mar 09, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

I'm going to take a step back and answer the question you're really asking: How do I use frameworks in a case?

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.

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Pedro
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replied on Mar 09, 2021
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

Here's the trick: no case really fits a framework. You need to create from scratch or adjust a framework to solve any possible case. Once you understand that solving the case is not about the frameworks, but about structuring customized hypothesis, you can solve any problem.

So you need to ask yourself:

  • What could be a potentially good answer (hypothesis) and how can I prove it right or wrong in a comprehensive way?
  • What needs to be true in order to meet certain objective?
  • How can you break down a problem into 2-3 manageable "chunks", and then drill down
  • How can you operationalize the answer

This is how consultants think: in terms of hypothesis and structured ("MECE") breakdown of problems. Frameworks are a shortcut when you have no experience and may be useful on your initial preparation, but you should not over rely on them, as you face the risk of not solving the business problem that was presented (but solving the framework instead).

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Clara
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replied on Mar 10, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

The important cases, meaning those tested in MBB, won´t fit a framework.

This is why we only should have a look at them at the very beggining of our prep, just to get the basis. From then on, they are useless.

You need to break the problem into it´s main driver or components, and deep dive in each of the node of the tree to find new nodes.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Henning
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replied on Mar 09, 2021
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

It's easy: Your approach should always be to put together a framework for every case individually. For some types of cases you can work with a skeleton from one of the standard frameworks (e.g. Market Entry, Private Equity), but even then you need to customize it to the specific case situation.

If you make this a habit (at least after the first couple of cases and developing a general comfort with case interviews), you won't get surprised by any case.

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Denis
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updated an answer on Mar 09, 2021
Ex-Bain 5 yrs | Goldman Sachs Investment Banker NYC | MBA Chicago Booth | Passed > 13 MBB > 20 IB interviews

I ll try to keep the answer as short as possible. For every business problem imaginable, embedded in a specific client context, there is always a certain APPROACH, i.e.

  • a step-by-step naturally flowing, sequential set of questions you need to answer in order to solve the problem at hand
  • You lay out process steps first, clearly stating objectives for each process step
  • then detail process steps with specific CONTENT FRAMEWORKS (of the gazillion that are out there such as in Case In Point)

This is actually what case interviews, especially MBB, test. Can you take any problem in this world, break it down into a digestable, common-sense, step-by-step process steps (array of questions you need to answer etc), that you only then back up with content frameworks as mere tools to achieve the objective of each process step.

This is what I focus on when training my candidates. Stepping away from the rigid case frameworks (i.e. content frameworks), and focus on the underlying problem at hand, and molding your frameworks in a way that makes sense and is highly specific for the situation at hand.

Best,

Denis

(edited)

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hi on Mar 09, 2021

This is a very helpful approach

Allen
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replied on Mar 09, 2021
Ex-McK Experienced Hire and EM - I show you how to perform at your best

Hi there,

There will be many long answers to this question that go right to the heart of what a framework is and how to use it, so I'll try to answer briefly and practically.

Put yourself in the mind of the client. What would I have to consider in order to make a decision? And why would I have to consider it?

If you can answer these questions for yourself and organize the answer before you communicate your approach, you'll do just fine.

This is actually my approach to all case interview questions, in that it enables you to be creative, specific to the case, and handle any unexpected questions. Happy to explain more.

Hope this helps,

Allen

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Anonymous A replied on Mar 10, 2021

Frameworks are from the primitive times in the early 2000's where if you were top of the class from a target school and had read Case in Point and listened to Victor Cheng, you would get a McKinsey offer. Nowadays, consultancies actually are looking for critical thinking skills where they want to see your ability to actually think as opposed to sketch out a framework from some case prep material!

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Gaurav
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replied on Mar 10, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there,

The thing is that no case usually fits a framework. You need to practice adjusting a framework to solve any case.

Hope it was helpful,
GB

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Florian
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replied on Mar 10, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

First of all, be aware that case interviews today in MBB more often than not are based on creative questions, where no preconceived framework exists (for a good reason).

Consulting firms want to see how you think and communicate, not how well you learned certain frameworks by heart and then force-fit them onto a given case.

That being said, all focus in your preparation should be on the correct approach to and habits for each question type in a case interview

  • Structuring and analytics
  • Chart interpretation
  • Case math

Establishing a solid foundation in your approach + practicing exercises to internalize the habits (structure, exhibit, and math drills) will help you to stand out and pass the MBB interviews with much more ease than if you were to focus on frameworks in your preparation.

In short, get rid of Cheng and Cosentino, and focus on your actual problem-solving skills by

  • Learning the right approach to each question
  • Practicing in cases with coaches, drills, and alone with specific exercises

Let me know if you want to learn more about both points as I have developed such an approach for each consulting case question type, which has seen great success with my candidates + specific exercises you can do on your own to maximize your prep efforts in a short amount of time.

All the best!

Cheers,

Florian

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Adi gave the best answer

Adi

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