Thursday, February 01, 2007

GD - How to handle cases

Hey guys,

Here comes the article that I had promised a few days back. People have been going great guns in Case GDs apart from being splendid in ‘Vague topics’. So I think all I am doing here is consolidating our learning. Also as I had complained in my posts, the starts were not great and hence some fundae and examples on that. The fundae on start in ironically at the end of the post :) I have taken the example of the real estate case to elucidate the points.
Click here to go to real estate case

1. Note that any case will always be short of information and that is deliberate. Gather facts, draw inferences and also make assumptions (be sensible and logical at that) in the first couple of minutes before the discussion begins

2. Assumptions: In this case could be “they have decent savings”, “though they have a degree in management, they may not be good at marketing since they do not have experience on that” etc

3. Inferences: Examples for this case. “Since they are skeptical on huge investments upfront, cost will be an important factor while deciding on the location”. Another example is “Since they have huge experience in developing and managing website projects, then can design the website themselves and hire less experienced people to cut costs”

4. Avoid reiterating the facts unless you are drawing inferences out of it. E.g., do not say Puru wants Jaipur and Shuru wants Bangalore and to decide on it, they have to consider costs. Note that the first part is not necessary and does not flow into the second part. And someone in the group may cut you on that

5. When you make assumptions and inferences, make sure that the group buys in. Else they will not even listen to your conclusions.

6. Think about the solution in a very structured manner. (Software guys can relate to tree structure :)) (Also, read the example below to make sure that this does not look like global gyan :)) That will help you in the start too.
E.g., In the Real estate case, your thinking has to go thus
A. If I have to decide on the location, what are the factors that matter to consider a location. Say, cost, target market, advertiser location
B. Now in cost what are the factors. Say rentals, salaries and setting up
C. Now in rentals, see which is better and what the cost difference is. See if you can mitigate that (As someone suggested that though Bangalore was more expensive than Jaipur, you can mitigate by putting office in outskirts). Then you understand that rental cost doesn’t matter
D. Now in salary costs, again see which location is better. See what is the actual cost difference and understand if it is big enough to be considered. And see if you can mitigate that (group may or may not agree on this. But fine)
E. Now target market. Decide who is the target market and what is their profile. Once done, see if your location matters to them
F. so on and so forth….

7. Make sure that you have the end in mind while you are putting across arguments. E.g., when the question is ‘what should X do to sell more soaps’, you should not be questioning why the hell should he sell more soaps when he already making good money J Many in the real estate case were talking about the Government help in Jaipur. But they did not conclude that Government help is an important factor in deciding the location.

8. Once you bring in structure, it is easier to avoid going in loops. It helps you discuss things point by point.

9. When the group comes to a partial conclusion midway, make sure everybody has understood that. Summarize and move ahead so that the same arguments are not revisited.
E.g., In the ‘real estate case’, say the group agrees that rental costs do not differ greatly across locations. So say that, ‘Since group agrees that rental costs do not differ greatly, let us explore what other factors are important while choosing location’.
Otherwise the group keeps coming back to the same points again. Note that you need not be very categorical always, but have to do it for important conclusions that derive out of the discussion

10. Keep thinking of things midway too when people are making points. Make sure you listen to the group intently and derive some points for yourself

11. Once you reach any conclusion, look back and see if this affects any other conclusion previously reached. E.g., in the real estate case, when we reached the conclusion that VC is very much necessary, note that the very decision of location may not rest with Puru and Shuru. Hence any decision reached by the group on location may not be valid :)

12. Take a note of the risks involved in the decisions. E.g., The group decides that Bangalore is better because of better talent. Risk in this case is higher attrition since people have more opportunities too.

13. Keep making notes throughout as you may have to summarize in the end.

14. Cliché but true -- think out of the box

15. Start: As always you need to give structure and direction (Outlining the solution). Specific to case GDs, lay out the inferences and the way the group should discuss the case. If someone disagrees with a part of the structure, they will say that and the group will proceed once a basic structure is decided.
Example of start in the real estate case: Puru and Shuru have to decide on a location for the venture and if they have to go for a VC. For location we have to consider what factors influence the choice between the two and evaluate them. The factors could be cost, target market and advertiser location. (The chances are someone may pitch in here which is fine). While deciding on VC funding, they have to see what the VC brings in to the table and see what they can give in return for that. They will also have to decide on the timing, if they go for a VC.

I hope I have covered all the areas. If you have any comments, disagreements or better ways, it is open to discussion. Lets bounce the ideas and learn better.



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