Case Analysis Guidelines
Step 1. What are the key issues or problems of the case?
Any case may suggest several interpretations of what the focal concerns are. It is helpful to begin by identifying as many different interpretations as possible. Have each participant state why he or she identified the issues or problems as key.
Step 2. Prioritize the problems.
Participants should focus on the key issues of the case. This may involve selecting one of the issues already raised or creating a new statement that identifies the problem. In some cases, there may be several problems at work, in which case participants may wish to simply rank the problems in terms of either potential importance or timing of impact.
Step 3. Consider whether it is necessary to determine the “cause” of the problem,
In some cases, it is important to determine what caused the problem in order to identify the appropriate solution(s). In other cases, the cause of the problem is not as important as what to do about it. Therefore, when working on a case, always ask whether it is necessary to decide what the cause is.
It should be noted that speculating on the motivations of the individuals in a case seldom does more than sidetrack a case study. By trying to determine why a person acted in a certain way, participants can easily fall into unproductive discussions that revolve around guesswork instead of focusing on the situation at hand. Managers and supervisors often must respond to actions (or lack of actions) made by the people with whom they work, and reflecting on the motivations of others is, in this regard, only a diversion.
Step 4. Brainstorm options available to the leader.
There is always one option: Do nothing. However, there are usually several ways to resond to a problem, and helping participants identify those options is an important part of case discussions. Participants should be encouraged to use their best brainstorming skills to determine what the options are.
Step 5. Evaluate options.
Each option will have advantages and disadvantages. In management and human resource issues, there are several criteria that may be useful for evaluating different options, including:
The power of the option to solve the problem
The impact of the option on organizational performance and/or morale
Legal or regulatory liabilities and requirements
Cost of the option
The ability of the person(s) involved to carry out the option (in terms of skill, authority, or basic motivation)
Step 6. Select an optimum solution
The ideal solution will produce the best outcome at the least cost. In management situations, this may not be possible. Therefore, selecting the best solution may involve balancing competing opportunities and constraints with an optimum solution that produces satisfactory outcomes on as many criteria as possible.
Step 7. Describe how the solution should be implemented.
Create a plan or “script” of what the manager or supervisor should do to implement the solution.