Notes On Case Analysis


Notes on Case Analysis
David Robinson, September 2008
Business school cases are quite long and complicated. We study cases not so much to find the right
answer, but to train ourselves in systematic analysis so we will be effective decision makers in the
business world. Successful case preparation depends on multiple readings of the case and multiple
points of view.
Multiple Readings of the Case
If you attempt to analyze a case by pulling an “all-nighter” (waiting until the last minute, spend
hours poring over the case and going line by line looking for insights) you will be overwhelmed. You
should plan for multiple readings of the case over several days, complemented by group meetings
and discussion.
Multiple Points of View
Even if you are preparing to write an individual brief, you should plan to discuss a case with a study
group. You’ll notice that in business the major consulting firms always assign a team of people to
each client, not just their single best industry expert. The reason for this is that no one person is
likely to comprehend all the problems a firm faces. No two individuals are likely to have the same
insights, but the combined wisdom of a team is likely to come up with a fairly comprehensive
First Reading of the Case
You should read the case first on your own—if you meet with your study group and open the case
book and say, “OK, what’s this about?” there is every likelihood that your team will degenerate into
“group think” (one person comes up with a plausible solution and everyone else concurs in a false
consensus without challenging either the analysis or solution).
In your first reading, read through the whole case quickly and try to get some sense of the following:
1. How is this industry organized (e.g. fragmented, a few dominant players; strong buyer
power or producers have the upper hand)?
2. In general, how is the firm doing? What is going well and what less well?
3. How would we describe the current situation?


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