Define/Determine the Problem or Opportunity in the Case of Thomas Green
CASE ANALYSIS METHODOLOGY
Analyses 3 pages
Each reconditions 1 page
“The essential fact that makes the case method an educational experience of the greatest
power is that it makes the student an active rather than a passive participant.” (Wallace
“I keep six honest men. They taught me all I know. Their names are What, Why, When,
How, Where, and Who.” (Rudyard Kipling).
A case is a written description of a situation actually faced by a manager. Cases
commonly involve a decision to be made, a problem to be solved, an issue to be settled or
an opportunity to be considered. You become the manager or the consultant in the case
and are required to make a decision about the situation and what should be done.
A goal of case analysis is to improve your ability to think clearly in ambiguous and
confusing situations; do not get frustrated that there is no single best answer. Picture
yourself sitting in a boardroom with your peers assessing a problem or opportunity and
imagine the different points of view that would undoubtedly lead to many different
suggestions for solutions – all of them valid.
The benefit of a case analysis process is that it provides the user with a system for sorting
through all of the information and issues that are presented or that might require further
investigation. Having said that, there is no one best way or ironclad procedure for
preparing a written case analysis because cases differ in focus, type, size and the
complexity of the organizations being analyzed.
The best type of process is one that allows for an orderly system of gathering and
analyzing information. It is analytical in nature because it separates the information into
In its simplest form, the basic process follows these steps:
1. Define/determine the problem or opportunity in the case or sometimes you are
required to prepare the strategic plan for the upcoming year
2. Analyze the situation (more on this below)
3. Identify alternatives that are viable and recommend a solution
4. Implement your recommendation
What type of information do you need to gather and analyze? Students often struggle
initially because they do not know where to start. The following steps and/or questions
will help guide you and keep you focused on the task at hand.
Define/Determine the Problem or Opportunity in the Case
Some cases state the problem or opportunity. Others require you to sort through the
information and/or do external research such as visit the company’s web site or gather
more pertinent industry information. If you cannot find the problem or opportunity
immediately simply move forward with the process as it will be revealed to you after
more analysis of the information.
If you are required to prepare a strategic plan for the upcoming year, then that will be
your problem/opportunity statement (eg This paper is being prepared in order to present
the strategic plan for “ABC” corporation for the year “XXXX”).
Analyze the Situation
This will be the longest and most time consuming part of the process. It involves
identifying the organization’s internal and external strengths and weaknesses as well as
existing/potential opportunities and threats. Students often ask “what should we be
analyzing” and “how do we know where to start”? This is very important because you do
not want to just repeat case facts in your final write-up. Remember, you are the manager
or consultant and writing in the report that the company operates out of Halifax, Nova
Scotia, is not information required in a case analysis as the manager already knows this!
He or she is paying you either as a consultant or as an employee to help him or her
analyze relevant information that can help determine a solution. Giving the address and
history of the organization is not relevant!
In the business world, managers are faced with two types of environmental factors. The
first is a set of Internal Factors and the second a set of External Factors that can impact
decision making. Typically, the organization has more control over internal factor and
little or no control over external factors. These factors include the following types of
issues and factors:
What is the existing corporate strategy? (eg why does the company exist and where does
it want to be in the next 5 to 10 years – this is the longer term outlook).
What is the current marketing mix strategy? (what is the product, its price, the promotion
strategy, and the distribution strategy?).
What is the company’s mission statement? Should it be revised?
What is the financial status of the company?
What products/services are currently offered?
Who are the current customers and target markets?
Is current production capacity sufficient? (eg do they have room for expansion or can
they meet current demand with their facilities etc).
Is R&D available and current?
Is there a skilled workforce? Is there an identifiable need for training?
What are the skills of current management? Can they carry the firm into the future?
What technological stage is the company in? Is it current?
Who are your competitors and what do you know about their strategies/markets/financial
strength/marketing mix strategy/technological capabilities?
What is the current economic climate? What is the economic forecast?
What impact do demographics have (ie aging population in North America, income, etc)?
Are there any political issues or concerns?
Are there any outstanding legal issues or concerns or future issues/concerns?
Are there any social or cultural issues?
Does the company operate on a global basis? Are there global issues to be analyzed?
What is the current level of acceptable technological competence in your marketplace?
What does the industry look like? Can you identify industry strengths and weaknesses?
While the above questions are not exhaustive they should provide you with a list of the
information you need to seek out before you can begin to analyze the company’s
Once you have completed the gathering of information you now need to analyze it. This
can be a daunting task if the information is extensive but there are no short cuts – your
competitors don’t take them and neither can you. One of the most beneficial ways to
analyze the information is to look at it from the perspective of a SWOT analysis. A
SWOT analysis breaks down the various information you have gathered and categorizes
each factor analyzed as a strength, weakness, opportunity, or threat.
You have to examine each internal and external factor you have deemed relevant to your
analysis. Take each factor and ask yourself “why is this factor important to discuss? Am
I just repeating a case fact without analyzing it? Have I determined if the fact is a
strength, weakness, opportunity or threat and have I jotted it down so I can come back to
it later when I am pulling the analysis together to determine solution(s)? Once you
complete this analysis, you are then ready to make recommendation(s) or find a solution.
Recommendation (three recommendations needed, each one must be in one
From your analysis, you must recommend solutions for the identified problem or
opportunity. You now have analyzed the information and have identified the strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You should now look at your SWOT analysis and
determine what the company can reasonably deal with at this point in time. They will not
be able to deal with everything you have identified as firms all operate with resource
constraints. It is recommended that you try to match up the following factors as it will
help bring clarity to what you can recommend at this time:
1. Use strengths to take advantage of opportunities
2. Overcome weaknesses by taking advantage of opportunities
3. Use strengths to avoid threats
4. Minimize weaknesses and avoid threats
5. You need three solutions or recommendation (why should I pick this why this?)
You might want to list several alternatives the organization can consider and then select
the ones you feel are most appropriate. It can be one recommendation or several. If you
are trying to solve a specific problem you will likely have one recommendation. If you
are preparing a strategic plan for the upcoming year you will likely have several
alternatives and recommendations.
This is the section that will tell the reader how you plan to execute your recommendation.
Suggestions for this section:
1. Be as detailed and action-oriented as possible
2. Suggest specific activities for your recommendation. For example, if you are
preparing a marketing strategy for the upcoming year, you would have to be
specific in your promotional endeavors and provide mock-ups if possible of any
ad campaigns, brochures, television commercials, etc. You would not just say
“prepare a television commercial” – rather, you would prepare it and include it in
3. Use time lines if they are relevant to your implementation. For example,
categorize your implementation into time periods such as Week 1, Week 2 or
Within 30 days, Within 60 days, etc.
4. Be creative and allow your emotions and thoughts to help create an outstanding
and memorable implementation.
|Academic Level||College (1-2 years: Freshmen, Sophomore)|
|Subject Area||Business Studies|
|Number of Pages||7 Page(s)/1925 words|