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Case Studies, Are They Only Identifying A Problem & Solving?: My Takeaways From James Quinlan

Hello everyone. My name Is Naveena, and I am currently a grade 11 student at Lester B. Pearson CI. Last Thursday, being July 22, 2021, I had the opportunity to listen to James Quinlan’s presentation for the Illuminate Universe Leadership Academy. James is another one of our many fantastic speakers who came in and gave a more technical presentation rather than a sentimental/metaphorical one. James taught us about case studies, and the process of one. Here is what I learned.


  1. What case studies are

  2. The process to solve a case study

  3. How to pick the best answer



1. What Case Studies Are

I know many people would hear the word case study and think of detective work

(I was one of those people). However, case studies are much more than identifying a problem and solving it. James told us that case studies are based upon real life situations, written by people who have experienced the problem before. Case studies are fun and challenging activities which stimulate your mind and help you to be aware of any and all possible situations for a problem, event, or any situation which may have a aspect that needs fixing.

James told us that he is a part of a club in his university that undergoes case studies regularly. Honestly, I feel like that is a good thing to know for the future, or for any student going into university, because they have an idea of a potential club, they may want to join.


2. The Process to Solve a Case Study

The process to solve a case study involves four rigorous tests. You must take each seriously and focus your inner business point. Any mistakes and you may have ended the game. Nah, I’m just kidding. The process to solve a case study involves four simple steps, if you follow them, you will be organized and on track.


Step 1: Executive summary

The executive summary is the scenario that the case study is based upon. Here is where you will read through the case study with full attention, in order to understand it. Once you read it through, you will know your role in the case study, and what you are required to do.


Step 2: Key analysis points and decision-making criteria

This is the part where you will take notes of things that you believe are important to solve your case study. In my opinion, this stage requires the reader to skim the scenario once more to recap important points to take down. By doing this, you will know what you must keep in mind when thinking of possible solutions, or evaluating solutions proposed in the study.

Step 3: Recommended details

Within the case study, you will be provided with questions or possible solutions to consider, hence the name “recommended details.” While considering the possibilities it is important to keep reality in mind, and the capabilities and limitations towards what you are working on and/or solving.

Step 4: Implementation plans

With the solution you decide on, you will determine a strategic plan to carry out in order to reach the goal, being the goal outcome. Again, you must think realistically. For example, the problem is that a company has been losing sales, and they are only selling one product that is no longer appealing to the general public, you would choose a solution to solve that. Let's say the solution is to introduce a new product, or bring in a limited-edition product to make customers feel like they need it now before it runs out, etc. But how will you get there? That is step four; you will have to think of a product that relates to your business brand, figure out how you will make that product (labour, equipment, material, etc.)


3. How To Pick The Best Answer

Once again, to pick the right answer you need to pick one that is realistic. You also need t think of the risks that come with that choice and not just the benefits; sometimes a choice that may solve one problem could branch off into multiple different issues. Honestly, its kind of like solving a daily problem you might come across in your life as a student, but elevated business wise. For example (school problem), you want to go into software engineering, but you aren't that strong in the required sciences to do so, but you are very strong in math. You could pursue the degree you want, and work extra hard to keep your grades up in sciences but a risk maybe that the work is overpowering and hard to manage which causes stress, or you could go into a similar profession (software developing) and not take sciences to protect your GPA, mental health, etc. James said that sometimes the best answer is to leave the situation as it is and do not do anything else, because if you cannot do anything, and try to fix something you may be causing more damage.


Our Case Study

James gave us a chance to solve an IVY case study. However, I cannot share what the case study was for confidential reasons. Just another perk of being in the Academy 😊. Anyways, as a class we did all the steps, but to determine a solution we went through the experience of a case study competition. We were put into breakout rooms where we determined a solution for the case study we were presented with, after the breakout room time was up, we would present our solution and justification to the judge, the judge being James.

James's lecture was amazing and informative. Not to mention engaging. I would like to thank Illuminate Universe for giving me the opportunity to listen to James’ s lecture. And I would like to thank James for taking time out of his busy schedule to educate our class on university case studies/ case studies in general and giving us a chance to try one ourselves.