How to analyze a case study?

hello everyone welcome to the video lecture series at Watson School of Business the title of the presentation is how to analyze a case study I am dr. Pradeep rajala program director and associate professor of marketing now an interesting fact about this presentation or video is that this is the first formal lecture for walks and students so it’s quite interesting that the lecture is happening even before all of you have arrived at the campus and the program has begun so in that sense this lecture will always remain in the chronicles of the school’s history now what exactly is the purpose of this video I have four objectives in mind one I would like to use this opportunity to welcome all of you to walks in School of Business number two I would like to give a brief introduction to the pre-programmed docket and then start off by explaining why case study analysis is an integral part of management education number three I will take you through some of the important steps of case study analysis at a 50 thousand feet level at a pretty broad level and then finally I will end the video with some tips and conclusions I’m hoping that you will use this video as a preparatory course let’s say to start off with some of the case studies in the pre program docket as I said I really want to use this presentation to welcome all of you to walks in formally I personally think that you have taken a wonderful decision to join woxall from my perspective when I say my perspective the program directors perspective I have taken a vow to create the best program that I can imagine if I were a student I would like to join a program like this so in that sense every single promise that we have made will be fulfilled when we start the program and when we continue for the next one or two years you will get the best of the best faculty from across the globe these are people who are the who and who of this field and you will get a chance to interact with them plus you will you will get to engage with aspiring entrepreneurs people who take initiatives and so many other people from across different industries so this program will be exciting and I can promise you the most exciting time in the next one and two years that said what exactly was the intention behind the pre program docket not many schools do that right well the intention of the pre program docket is not to start off on the lectures not to force you to study material before you come to the campus it was more of a getting to know each other tool given that from the point you pay your fees or you say yes to the admissions team to the point when you actually come to the campus there’s always this large gap we believed that probably this is one of the best ways to keep the conversation going get to know each other even before we arrive at the campus number two is from an academic perspective the pre-program docket will give you a flavor as to the kinds of expectations we have from each other as well as from the program so hopefully this pre-programmed rket process will help you understand the expectations of people at boxin and for us it’s a way of getting to know you who you are right how do you think what is your background and how do you bring that background into your education and then finally of course this is just a way of keeping the blood flowing to our brains just for transit right fantastic so now we’ll come to the meat of the presentation why why do why do management programs use case studies what is the point of using case study

analysis for MBA programs after personally doing many case studies and then over the past 10 years teaching scores and scores with case studies I feel personally that there are four main advantages to case study analysis from a teaching and a learning perspective one is it helps the students get involved in data-driven decision-making now if you look at the case studies in your pre program target you will see that most of the case studies have data as part of the entire narrative so in that sense you are being given an opportunity to use data that is typically available only to managers now this data will actually help you take decisions number two is it will help you appreciate complex real-world scenarios most of the time when you learn theory in the classroom everything appears linear right X leads to y y leads to Z if you do if you do Z then you know all these outcomes will happen but then the problem is real life doesn’t really work that way all of us know that and business decisions are even worse given that there are so many variables internal external environmental customer based and so on and so forth real-world business scenarios are complex so case studies give or let’s say help you appreciate the nuances of taking decisions in real-world business environments number three case studies are typically open-ended problems so in that sense there is no right answer or there is no wrong answer the point is to go through the go through the process the point is to analyze the data and then based on that take decisions that you feel good about right and then in which you can actually apply your learnings from the classroom and of course finally a case study actually helps in discussion and dialogue right from our perspective we will use the case studies to actually generate a conversation between all of you as well as between arsons and yourselves okay so given that case study is such an integral part of management teaching and education let’s start off by understanding some of the broad principles of analyzing case studies especially the case studies in your pre-program docket I would say there are four steps to case study analysis number one is what is typically called as situation analysis you need to conduct a situation analysis there are three dimensions to situation analysis one is to start off I mean different professors will tell you different things obviously but then my personal opinion always has been that you have to read the case study at least two times the first time read it like a story right because it’s all said and done a case study is more like a story about a company or a specific business situation but the second time when you read the case study you have a pen and a paper handy because now what you’re doing is you are taking note of the key actors and their issues and perspectives right if you look at the case study it is typically more like a narrative wherein people in companies are going through issue they’re talking about it and they are in the process of taking decisions regarding those problems or issues or wave forward so the second time when you read the case study you need to take a note of the key actors and their issues and perspectives jot them down subsequently once you’re done with the basic let’s say listing of the key actors and so on and so forth now you start with a brief analysis of the weaknesses opportunities and resources situation of the firm so in that sense you’re essentially doing a SWOT analysis of the company based on the narrative as well as the data given in the case study all of you understand SWOT analysis right strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats you need to list them down

because eventually as you move ahead and start taking decisions or provide recommendations you have to make sure that they fit in into the overall perspective or the overall SWOT of the company if not your recommendations become meaningless once you’re done with the situation analysis the second step is what is known as problem definition or let’s say defining problem statements now what exactly is a problem statement essentially in this step what you’re doing is based on the narrative and the data in the case study you are trying to distill the key problems facing the decision-makers in the case study so essentially you are identifying the key problems facing the decision-makers at the same time you have to understand that there is a difference between identifying problems and mistaking symptoms to problems now why do I say this I say this because the case study will talk about symptoms the case study will talk about manifestations of business problems it will never give you or rarely will it give you direct access to the problems facing the decision-makers and more importantly it is your job as the case study analyzer to read between the lines dig deeper and truly understand what the problems are so the most important thing to keep in mind is by mean this is the key to the success of a good analysis is never ever confuse symptoms to problems right I’ll tell you the difference between symptoms and problems in the next slide right because it will help you a lot in terms of clearly defining problem statements and then as you keep or as you keep defining the problem statements what you also have to do is take note of available and missing information essentially what you’re doing is given certain problems and given certain issues facing the decision-makers and given that you are supposed to analyze all that and provide recommendations you have to understand from your perspectives what kind of information is being is being provided in the case study and what is the missing information that will actually let’s say that’s a hindrance to you making proper recommendations now the reason why this is important is in your recommendations you should also be talking about what types of new information will actually help take better decisions right so all these become very important because these are like the like all these three put together is the heart of case study analysis in any situation then the question becomes what is the difference between symptom and a problem and why was i harping about trying to understand the difference between a symptom and a problem because again as I said let me repeat this this kind of analysis will lead you to better define the problems facing the decision-makers now one of the interesting tools that you can always use or methods let me say not a tool is the four wise or five wise approach okay in this way you it’ll always help you truly differentiate between a symptom and a problem so let me take a step back and tell you what is the symptom and what is a problem you have a fever a temperature body temperature of 103 degrees centigrade or Celsius that is a symptom if you dig deeper then you realize that you may have some kind of an ailment that is actually leading to that fever if you don’t dig deeper you are essentially treating the fever or the temperature and actually not the underlying cause now the same thing applies to business problems as well if sales have gone down right and if you keep hitting at the peripheral level you may never be really able to solve the deeper issues so let’s say in the case study it is said that sales are declining so how do you use

the four or let’s say the Firewise approach here we I’m just for the sake of illustration I’m showing you three wise right so why have sales declined let’s say we call it why number one sales have declined because there are too many sales territories that do not have a sales person brilliant so then you dig deeper and then you ask okay so why is it that there are so many territories unassigned to sales people why is it that there are so many territories without salespeople it doesn’t make any sense now the reason why there are so many sales territories that are unassigned is because so many salespeople have left the company in the past one year so the turnover or the attrition rate has essentially doubled in the sales department and then you start asking the third why which is okay so why the hell has the attrition rate doubled and then you realize that okay so the compensation plan or let’s say the variable compensation plan right or the incentive plan was changed because the CFO thought that that is a better way of going about it to reduce the variable expenses and because of that it kind of demotivated these salespeople and then they started leaving the company so now if you look at it your original symptom the sales decline you know it is not a marketing problem anymore it is actually happening because of a human resource problem if you don’t dig that deeper what happens most of the time is just you start finding solutions at a very peripheral level maybe you just cut cost I mean not cost but you know the price of the product you will say oh you know what maybe the product is not good so let me add more features something like that but then here you realize that your sales problem is actually the result of the human resource practices of the company right so this is how you start digging deeper and deeper into some of the issues and this is how you separate symptoms from problems so as I said just to just to repeat the reason why this process becomes important is because it helps you in picking and prioritizing the main problem statements right because in any any scenario you will you’ll always face with the thousand problems right in addition to the some of the issues that we identified in the last slide maybe there could be other problems like your product is not weak your price might be high you know blah blah blah so on and so forth then how do you fix all that it’s it’s almost impossible to fix all that number one in one shot second thing is maybe not all of them are not such important issues so in that sense your five wise approach defining the problem statement approach actually helps you in picking and prioritizing your key problem statements and then you make a judicious use of the information and data provided in the case study to look for recommendations slash solutions once you’re done with all this now you start developing the alternatives right so you have identified the problem statements and based on the data right you actually start developing solutions to the key problems now one key thing to keep in mind is that the worst thing you can do is make a laundry list of things to do anyone can do that right because you know I mean I can give you thousand solutions as to how to make your life better but that’s not the point the point is you’re your solutions and recommendations number one should directly hit at the priority problems facing the company right so in that sense you should have that ability in your own mind as well as from a from a recommendation perspective to separate wheat from shaft as they say and second thing is you you cannot develop alternatives out of thin air right because solutions recommendations alternatives whatever you want to call them right do not operate in vacuum so you have to make sure that whatever alternatives that you have suggested should fall within the organizational constraints as I said at the beginning that means the alternatives that you are suggesting should directly or should be meaningful in the context of the SWOT analysis that you are the situation analysis that you have conducted for the organization right so you just cannot randomly say oh you

and open more stores to cut you know to deal with the sales drop because there are no resources this case study is telling you that right so in that sense you have to make sure that the alternatives fall within the organizational constraints once you have the alternatives or recommendations you need to run them through a few questions right I divide these questions into four one how well do the alternatives address the problem or the issue as stated that is how directly are you solving the specific problem the second thing is or are the alternatives consistent with the organization’s mission and strategic objectives your alternatives or solutions cannot be random they have to fall within the strategic direction objective mission of the organization is that really what the organization wants to do if that is not the case then your recommendations really don’t mean anything number three the does the organization have the ability and resources to achieve the goals or your solutions right again as I said you cannot give them solutions that they cannot execute or they don’t have resources to execute consequently the final question that you need to ask would be if not if let’s say the organization does not have let’s say XYZ resources to implement your solution or alternative then you need to recommend as to what kind of additional resources and at what cost should the organization allocate or procure to achieve these specific solutions right so essentially what you’re doing is from the point of identifying a problem to the point of providing alternatives to a point where you’re also saying that this is the way you actually achieve these solutions that is the whole point of a case study analysis and of course eventually you write the report in the classroom you want to do a lot of that in your PG program but in the pre-programmed docket case we will not have a report probably a minor report we don’t care about that but we will use the blog as a way to have robust discussions regarding each and every case so in that sense we will keep pushing you we will keep engaging with you in terms of how best we can discuss the situations in each case study that’s just a way of having fun for us right given that we are a university right so these are all the things that I wanted to cover in this video I hope the short video is useful to you I hope that this is the first step in thousands of interactions that you and I will have over a period of the next one or two years and I truly truly look forward to having all of you on the campus meanwhile keep engaging with us keep writing on the blog and then if at any point you have any questions all you have to do is just pick up that phone and call us or just send an email to all of us and we will respond all right well nice talking to you and I hope to see you again thank you very much