Analizing a case study is probably the most important but also the most difficult task you should accomplish using the know how acquired during a strategic management course.
Here a possible method and the crucial points in order to avoid issues and pitfalls:
- Strategy= solving successfully a problem with a brilliant plan: case study= the problem. The problem solver: You. Therefore please always, at the end of your analysis come with a solution and at least, some realistic conclusions!;
- The Postman always rings (at least )twice: no way you can analyze a case after reading it only one time;
- The Rule of 3: 1.) read just in order to understand what is going on and the nature of the proposed strategic issue; 2. Read in order to classify in order of relevance the proposed issues 3. Now you can start to take notes (in the text) in order to start providing an answer/analysis;
- The dark side of the moon: Consider the information you do and don’t have; even in real life is hardly possible to have all the informations you wish…: As with life, it is neither possible nor realistic for cases to contain all the information a decision maker might wish to have available. Usually a decision maker has only bits and pieces of information. Fill in the gaps, playing (just) with the card you have;
- We are not playing hide and seek. In the case there are no tricks or shortcuts neither hidden informations…for the simple fact that there is no single answer that wuill “solve” the case!!!.
- Fading to grey: identify key points and issues and weight up the situation…. There is no black and white and a span/scale of possible solutions to adopt. ..in other words…don’t be too assertive;
- If I were in your shoes: try to imagine yourself in the situation described in the case, playing all the single characters/parties that take part to it : it will be useful for a more motivated and prospective analysis
- SWOT is SWOT: The process of assessing a situation is widely accomplished through the use of SWOT Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Play by the rules, it should be a real analysis, using all the graphic potential of the tool;
- The den of the white rabbit: don’t confuse the symptoms with the desease. Dig as deep as you can in your analysis… if you start treating the symptoms you may forget to identify the underlying problems…;
- Follow the “Why”: related to point 9, you probably identified the root problems when you can no longer fight for a meaningful response to the Why;
- Classify solutions: between all the possible answers to problem you found, give a kind of rankig based on f.i. feasibility, costs, impacts, returns etc. If possible, support your conclusions with adequate facts/evidences;
- No crystal ball: you cannot predict all future events. Your conclusion should be solid, reasonable, clear, as far as possible evidence-based (in the end, evidence is what you know for certain) As long as your evaluation responds to the before stated criteria, your recommendations will be fully justified.