Ind Assignment Case Question WriteUp Guide

Identify and write up three key questions in the case.  Your assignment will be graded based on the quality of your questions.  Write out each question and explain why it is important


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Your write up should be limited to ONE full page, single spaced, 12-point font, normal margins and submitted as a PDF.  


You will complete this assignment for 13 cases.


The document below was written to help you with this assignment:


Business cases allow you to practice you critical-thinking and decision-making skills by tackling tough business problems.  These critical-thinking and analytical skills will become key to making good decisions as you start your careers in marketing, finance, accounting, operations, and human resources, as well as to understand the relationships among these functions. 


The cases often seem overwhelming, and you may be unsure of how to conduct case analysis.  Unfortunately, many students then turn to the internet or rely on other students for “answers” to assigned cases.  This is counterproductive as you will not learn anything from rewriting someone else’s analysis (assuming it is valid).  Another flawed approach is to divide and conquer cases with your student team, again this is counterproductive.  As you know using unauthorized materials (like other people’s case analysis) would breach the honor code as would or paying someone to complete a case analysis or homework assignment for you.  


As a side note I understand that some of the folks who you can pay online to do homework, wait till you have used them several times and then blackmail you by threatening to tell your school you breached the code!  What a business model.  But back to the case analysis……


As career professionals you are going to have to be able to conduct analysis, logically solve problems, and make decisions.  For example, as a marketing manager you will need to make decisions around strategic planning (segments, products, and channels); execution (digital messaging, media, branding, budgets, and pricing); and operations (integrated communications and technologies), as well as how to implement these decisions across other functional areas.  This course is designed to support the development of the skills you need to succeed as a business professional.


So how should you approach the cases?  Well, I have already posted two guides to business teaching cases to Canvas, but I wanted to give you some additional information that is specific to this assignment.  This individual assignment is due for most of the cases in the course so requires special attention.


Here is what I recommend:  


  1. As you read the case for the second time (after skimming it earlier), try to identify as many questions as you can.  These may be problems, challenges, opportunities, or decisions.  These may be questions that are directly described in the case or questions that you that are germane to the business situation.
  2. As you identify problems, challenges, opportunities, and decisions as questions, them write them out as questions.
  3. Select the three most important questions (problems, challenges, opportunities, or decisions) in the case.  It is anticipated that different students may select different questions from the same case, you are picking the problem you think are most important.  
  4. It might be helpful to use six simple questions to improve your understanding: What, Why, When, How, Where and Who.  They can be used in different ways to understand the questions you have identified.  
    1. WHAT is happening, WHERE is it happening, WHEN is it happening, then WHY is the question important, HOW does it impact the organization, and WHO is impacted and WHO is responsible. 
    2. Or you can use them as follows: WHY (purpose) WHERE (authority) WHAT (goal) to help define the STRATEGY. WHO (people) WHEN (sequence) HOW (method) to help define the TACTICS. 
  5. Consider the three questions you have identified from different perspectives, think about them from the perspective of the protagonist in the case, employees, shareholders, customers, and where useful other companies in the supply chain, company partners, competitors, or society.
  6. Try to remove the complexity of the situation and understand the problem in basic terms, identify the essence by finding ways to simplify and thereby understand.  
  7. Try to identify relationships, connections, dependencies, and links between and across the problem.
  8. Think about your questions in terms of the strategic frameworks we are using in class, for example, company value chains, industry value chains, corporate scope, PESTEL, and 5 Forces.
  9. Identify alternative ways that the question might be addressed, consider several options. These alternatives should be realistic, creative, and feasible given the constraints of the situation.  
  10. Think about the key criteria that will guide decision-making? What would determine success and how would it be measured? 
  11. Usually, your questions will be re-written several times as you analyze the case and deepen your understanding of symptoms or causation.  
  12. Problem framing is critical, getting to an answer comes about from knowing what to ask.  In my experience, the really smart people don’t know all the answers, but they know what questions to ask.

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved” Charles Kettering

“Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, thank an exact answer to the wrong question, which can be always made precise” John Tukey


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