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The thought process and steps to effectively solve a Case Study! My key takeaways from James Quinlan

Hey everyone! For those who are reading a blog of mine for the first time, my name is Freya Shah. I will be in Grade 10 come September at Woburn CI! This week, I had the opportunity to attend a unique and exciting workshop with James Quinlan, and I am so excited to share my experience with everyone today!

James' presentation was extremely unique in the sense that it was more interactive and situation-based rather than on a certain topic. This workshop revolved around an IVEY case which our cohort analyzed as a group, and we ended off by pitching some creative solutions to the judge, James! To be honest, I've never been too good with case studies, however I can definitely say that I learned a whole new approach now!

The three main takeaways that I had were:

  1. Why Case Studies are a great LEARNING TOOL.

  2. How to APPROACH a case study.

  3. Analyzing different solutions through the STRATEGY TRIANGLE.

Case Studies as a Learning Tool

Case studies are scenarios based on real life situations. They involve in-depth, close-up, and detailed examinations within a real-world context, which allows individuals to think critically and apply their knowledge in a way that may be directly useful in the future. James provided 3 reasons as to why Case Studies are an amazing method of learning:

- Application Based Learning

Case Studies provide situations where we can learn how to approach real life problems. Application is a huge strand of learning, because it equips individuals with the skills to find, analyze, and evaluate information to help them make their own connections.

- Implication Focused

Case studies allow you to encompass your analysis skills as well. Critical thinking plays a huge role here, because in case studies, you must consider all factors and propose a solution that best meets the clients needs, keeping in mind the social, economical, and environmental impact it may have.

- Fun and Challenging

MY PERSONAL FAVOURITE! Who likes to read out of textbooks nowadays? Case studies are much more interactive and exciting then textbooks and other common methods of learning. Through case studies, not only do you learn, but you also get to apply your knowledge. Studies have shown that active learning enables the brain to take in and process new information faster.

Steps to approaching a case study.

There are 4 main steps to be taken in order to come up with the best suiting solution for a given problem. These steps are crucial, because each one will add to the previous, and in the end, it will help you compare and decide on certain solutions. Remember, you need to present your solutions, so its always good to follow a certain process to back up your results!

- Introduction, Executive Summary

This first step basically means to read over your case study and understand the role you are in, as well as what your task is. It's important to be thorough when reading your case, because there will be many small details that will really come in handy in the future. Once you think you have familiarized yourself with the situation, it's time to move on to step 2!

- Key Analysis points and The Decision Making Criteria.

Here, you will take account of all the small important details that are given to you in the case. For example, make sure to jot down any restrictions your client may have. This could be in terms of finance, environmental effects, or any such features. You also need to jot down your role and the exact problem you are solving. Identifying the problem is always the most important step to any situation, whether it be a case study or a real-life experience.

- Recommendation Details

For this step, it is now time to come up with some creative solutions to the problem. Try to come up with as many solutions as you can. Keep in mind, there is always a solution to do nothing at all. Sometimes, that can even be the best pick! Anyways, next, try making a criterion to assess and grade each solution. Have some key factors on that criterion that are important to the client. For example, COST is one of the most common factors for companies. Come up with a list of 3+ factors upon which you can grade your solutions. This will allow you to clearly see which solutions are the best fit for the situation.

- Implementation Plan

The final step is to now brush up your plan. Make a plan on how your solution will go into action, and also start looking at minor details that you may have missed. The plan should be realistic and feasible for the company. Come up with some key steps to implementation for the company. Try to plan for all possible outcomes and setbacks, and provide a plan to overcome these. For example, if your plan is a little cost heavy, how might the company gather funds and revenue in order to invest in the plan. Essentially, think of your plan in the long run. What outcome will be reached, and how will you reach it?

Strategy Triangle.

What is each component?

Goals; What is trying to be achieved?

Product/Market Focus; What products/services are able to be sold, and what is the target market?

Core Activities; What activities are adding to company value?

Value Proposition; Customer Attraction.

To briefly overview this model, you are basically trying to evaluate the company and see where the fault lies. Try comparing 2 of the corners with each other. Ask yourself:

  1. Do the Goals and Core activities line up?

  2. Do the Core Activities and PMF add up?

  3. Do the PMF and Goals add up?

Try finding where there is an imbalance. This is essentially what you need to fix in order to get the company back on track. It is a great way to evaluate a business and see exactly what the problem is, and think of solutions that line up with it.

Group Case Study

As mentioned earlier, this workshop revolved around a case study. Since the case is confidential to IVEY, details can not be incorporated, however, I can say that the learning and ideas put into this blog were all implemented when proposing a solution. As a cohort, we all analyzed the case together, however we came up with solutions in small groups. We had a mini competition to pitch and explain our solutions, however, a winner could not be chosen! All the suggestions were unique, yet all of them were doable and well thought out! We all were winners 😎!

*That's the beauty of Case Studies! There's never a right or wrong!*


So, that's all from me today! Before I end things off, I'd like to thank James Quinlan for his wonderful workshop. I learned so much and had lots of fun! Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and if you want to reach out, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or shoot me a message on Instagram! I hope you have a great day😁!

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