Before Appearing for Case Studies
The case method, writing and persuasion
We hope that you have read the Part 1 of this series.
The case method
Ideally, you should read the case three times. First time read it like you are receiving the information and contemplate the case after you finish. Second time read it with a motive to find out information that you feel important for your confusions. Before third time, solve the case on a rough notebook and read the case again. Use a highlighter or add comments on PDF via internet browser, Adobe Acrobat or prepare notes on Microsoft OneNote. Do not passively highlight the text or make notes. Read the case actively.
In a conventional pedagogy, you receive passive knowledge from an online lecture, a textbook or a faculty member. In cases, you receive a mere information; you must create knowledge actively from it.
Once you have found out solutions, probably, it is an ideal way to solve the problem. But, content delivery is also an important part. We will provide abstract methods to structure your thoughts and solutions. You will be able to sequence your conclusions logically according to your purpose, and you will learn when to use which structure. You should mould your own method from this abstract essence.
If you are presenting your case in a final round, judges will question your conclusions. Even if they have comprehended it clearly; just to test your understanding of the case. You must persuade them confidently, signalling you know exactly what you have written. You won’t get confidence until you have a clear thought. It is difficult to reply instantaneously. To counter that, you should prepare your findings in a conclusion-evidence theory structure. This will help you to structure your thoughts in a logical manner.
Figure 2 Conclusion-evidence theory
First position your statement; whatever you have concluded. Back it with a major reason; if the audience is willing to know it in-depth, present them with evidence that substantiates your conclusion and reason.
Skills for studying cases
As mentioned above, the first time you read the case to grasp the information. The second time, you read with an intention to find relevant information concerning your problems. Then you should prepare rough solutions based on your knowledge and read it again. You must employ the key management ideas and assessment frameworks to the case. You must employ theory to practical problems.
There are three sources to mine content; you should follow an order. Start with first, if you don’t get satisfactory information; proceed to the next resource.
Search engine or internet sources: If you have a faint idea about the topic or know the name of it, its application, but just want to clarify it, then you should use this source.
Library: If you do not have any idea about it, you should reach the library. Supposedly you are doing a case study on finance, and you don’t have decent knowledge about the topic applicable. Go to the library, you’ll find a whole section of finance. You are a bit confident about the topic that is “Internal Rate of Return”. When you pick up a book of corporate finance, go through its contents. You will find related topics like the profitability index. It may be useful for your case. Similarly, you find related books in research and advancements in corporate finance or historical corporate failures.
Faculty or professor: Approach relevant faculty or professor for the subject. They already have knowledge of academic books of that subject and the recent research papers. And they can guide you with exact personalised topic applicable to the case.
Decent corporate writing skills will be of great use. Please refer HBR Guide to Better Business Writing (HBR Guide Series) by Bryan A. Garner from Harvard Business Review Press if you have extra time available. We will provide a relevant logical sequence for various types of cases later in this paper. It will structure your writing logically.
Presentation or communication
If you have a base of case understanding, clarity of thoughts and quality solutions, you’ll be able to communicate more confidently. However, in a competition, you are also required to present your solutions with the help of the visual aid. You can save substantial time by purchasing a Microsoft PowerPoint template online. You’ll get around 80 slides covering all data types comprehensively.
You are not only required to present the solutions passively. Judges will ask questions in between or in a separate question-answer round. You should have a presence of mind, humour and confidence to answer their queries.
Process to appear case study
The process to be followed after you register a case and before you present the case for the final round.
Figure 3 The case study process
Start your reading with the approach mentioned earlier. First, read it passively; for the second time, read it as if you are finding information; read it actively.
Three sources to extract information from. Internet, library and faculty. Approach relevant resource to mine information.
Prepare a draft of the solution on a text editor first; you will be required to change it a lot when you review it. Again, start with the first step, until you are not satisfied with your solutions.
Mould your textual ideas into graphical form. Use the help of Microsoft PowerPoint templates to present your data effectively. A great PowerPoint presentation profusely increases the probability of clearing the second round.
Show the outcome to your friends and faculties; seek for their suggestions; contemplate them, and only incorporate them, if you find it useful. Because, they may be far more knowledgeable than you; but, nobody has an in-depth understanding of the case than you.
Restart and follow these steps again until you are not satisfied with your work.
Thinking, not reading, is key
Read the case actively; think about possible solutions; seek relevant information to your questions. Otherwise, you may spend two hours reading and re-reading the case; and end up highlighting and marking information passively. Try to extract sense out of it.
Point of view
While creating solutions, you may find alternative options for decision. Try to think about it from the point of view of the protagonist of the case. Try to feel and be in a problematic situation like them and then re-evaluate your decision. You will find some alternatives are more viable until you be in their shoes.
The main reason for collaborating is to remove the tunnel vision. Don’t do all the case on your own, because of you either have more knowledge or you have divided the work. Collaborate your ideas with teammates, it will calibrate your direction if you are moving far with your passionate suggestions.
Put limits on your preparation
You shouldn’t spend too much time on a case study. Too much involvement leads to more perplexities. Allot a maximum of four hours a day. Start again the next day after collaborating with teammates, friends or faculties. Your unconscious mind is far more capable of solving problems than your conscious mind. You may get breakthrough ideas after a deep sleep.
Courtesy: Dipan Mewada