HOW TO WRITE A CASE
When analyzing cases, it is important to isolate critical facts, evaluate whether assumptions are useful or faulty, and distinguish between good and bad information.
Cases are to be written in essay format, not point form.
When you use tools that require extensive analysis (like the Five Forces, Shared Value Creation or Stakeholder Theory), do the work in an appendix and only talk about the most relevant findings in the body of the text (i.e. the industry forces or stakeholders that matter most to the development of your analysis).
Every case should include each of the following steps (but not as subject headers – incorporate them into a narrative):
Identify your role: CEO? Board member? Outside consultant? Etc. One sentence max.
Identify the problem: Write a concise problem statement. This should just be one or two sentences and appear at the very beginning of your work. Use it as a reference point as you proceed through the analysis.
The process of thinking about possible solutions may lead you away from the initial problem. Don’t fall into this trap. Make sure your recommendation actually addresses the problem you have identified.
There generally is not one “correct” problem to be identified. Instead, you are graded based on how well you analyze and solve the problem you chose to work with.
Conduct your analysis: Use the analytical tools from the course reading. DO NOT do external research.
The point of the exercise is to see how you apply the tools of the course to a real-world challenge, NOT to see if you can find out what the company actually did. Very often a strong case will make recommendations that are quite different from what the company did because you are working with different information than they were.
The analysis should be the longest section of your write-up, at least one full page per tool plus the work you do in the appendix.
Each assigned reading has at least one tool (like shared value, stakeholder theory, five forces, etc.). Use at least two tools. ONLY use tools from our readings, NOT tools from other courses (like SWOT or PESTEL). Furthermore, you must use one of the specific tools assigned in the same week that case is due.
Make sure the tool you use fits the problem – i.e. five forces looks at the industry, while other tools, like those on organizational culture, look within the firm. Also, ask yourself why you have chosen one type of analysis over another. Assumption checking can also help determine if you have gotten to the heart of the problem or are still just dealing with symptoms.
Propose alternative solutions: Generally, three. Make sure each alternative is justified and supported by your analysis.
It is important to remember that in management cases there is rarely one right answer or one best way. Even when members of a class or a team agree on what the problem is, you may not agree on how to solve the problem. Therefore, it is helpful to consider several different solutions.
Make recommendations: Choose ONE of the three alternatives.
Describe exactly what needs to be done. Explain why this course of action will solve the problem.
The recommendation should also include a detailed implementation plan for the proposed solution because the recommended actions and their implications for the performance and future of the firm are interrelated.
The solution you propose must solve the problem you identified. This point cannot be overemphasized; too often, students make recommendations that treat only symptoms or fail to tackle the central problems in the case. Make a logical argument that shows how the problem led to the analysis and how the analysis led to the recommendations you are proposing.
Remember, an analysis is not an end in itself; it is useful only if it leads to a solution. The actions you propose should describe the very next steps that the company needs to take.
HOW TO WRITE A CASE