The problem-solving wheel

The first thing to look at is the process of solving a case. The problem-solving wheel below provides an overview of 6 steps in which some steps are used recursively.

1. First you should read the case material thoroughly. Focus your reading on what is asked and what could be key information in cracking the questions. Always keep the case problem in mind, so you end up answering the questions you are meant to address. 

2. Having understood the case material, break the problem into smaller issues and make a well-founded prioritization.

3. Construct hypothesis of potential solutions to the most important issues.

4. Test your hypothesis by gathering relevant data and executing analyses. Make a work plan that covers all your hypothesis. Iterate back and forth between steps 2. and 4. to cover all aspects.

5. Develop short and precise solutions based on your analyses. Once again, make sure that you answer the questions given in the case.

6. With all substance in place, start developing a story-line and communication strategy for your key messages. Remember that a sound analysis is nothing without an understandable and coherent presentation.  Also, include how to implement your solution and the risks associated with it.


Organize your thoughts using a logic tree

In step 2 of the problem-solving process, you can identify issues using a logic tree. A logic tree is used to decompose a problem into smaller parts whilst ensuring the entire problem is elucidated. This is based on the MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive) framework.

The logic tree begins with a simple and accurate question that is answered at different levels of detail. Hence, the logic tree enables you to establish a complete understanding of the problem and it can be used to focus the case solving process and develop useful hypothesis. We have illustrated a logic tree that is used to answer the socioeconomic question “How do we lower unemployment?” by breaking the problem into smaller parts.


test your hypothesis effectively using the 80/20 rule

In step 3 and 4 of the problem-solving process, you test hypothesis with various analyses. When you only have a few hours to do so, it is essential that you prioritize your time and resources by focusing on the important elements of your solution.

You can use the 80/20 rule which states that 80 percent of a problem can be solved using 20 percent of the time it takes to solve the problem completely. Apply this train of thought to quickly test your hypothesis through analyses, iterating back and forth between the two until you have developed satisfying and exhaustive solutions.


FIVE ESSENTIAL QUESTION TYPES TO ANSWER THROUGH THE CASE SOLVING PROCESS


COMMUNICATE YOUR FINDINGS EFFECTIVELY USING THE PYRAMID STRUCTURE

After developing your solutions, it is important to communicate them in a structured and effective way. One way to do this is using the pyramid structure. This tells you to start with the conclusion and then present arguments. We call this presenting your findings in a top-down way, using an inductive approach. The effect is that it becomes easier to understand and follow your argument. So you should:

  • Conlude first

  • Then present arguments

  • Makes for an easier overview


potential pitfalls that will separate solutions


SPEND YOUR TIME EFFICIENTLY

You have limited time to solve the case and in order to succeed an essential prerequisite is to manage and plan your time and resources. There is no correct way to allocate your team’s resources, but we suggest that you manage your time in the following way:


THREE TIPS FOR PREPARATION BEFORE OUR CASE COMPETITION


Ten tricks to succeed with slides


Great and effective slides from previous winners of pcc

This slide defines the case problem and describes a solution in an effective way by breaking the problem down into smaller parts.

This slide communicates a complex and central calculation in a simple way by using icons, arrows, a graph and boxes with less text.

This slide explains a calculation in a very simple way with concrete numbers.

This slide gives a good overview of a central part of the case using simple text boxes and an intuitive “waterfall” graph with colors that match the logos.