Small Case Study With Solution

Case Study Interview Examples: Questions and Answers

You will need to prepare for an interview where case study questions will be asked. While preparation is required for every job interview, extra time is required to adequately prepare for case study interviews.

Providing an answer to a case study question involves much more than simply recounting the issues and problems set forth, it includes identifying the most important issues, employing sound and logical analysis, developing an action plan for addressing the problem(s) and making recommendations. Depending on the firms you're interviewing with, and the industry you work in, case study questions can be presented in verbal or written format, and address a number of topics.

In case interviews, it's not uncommon for interviewers to exclude important details when asking candidates to resolve hypothetical business problems presented. It's okay to ask interviewers for more information, and it's expected. They want to see if you can identify what information is important, and what is not.

Occasionally, interviewers provide no detail at all to test your analytical skills when adequate resources are unavailable. In these situations, it's okay to make assumptions, but they must be based on sound logic and analysis of information that is provided.

Interviewers asking case study questions are primarily concerned with how effectively you can analyze a problem, determine key factors, brainstorm ideas, and propose workable, pragmatic solutions that are supported by your analysis.

Answering Case Interview Questions

In the case interview, coming up with the "correct" answer isn't nearly as important as the process you use for getting there. When answering a case interview question, you want to showcase your ability to analyze a situation or business dilemma, identify the important issues, and develop sound conclusions that flow from your analysis. For this reason, it's important to use a logical framework for breaking down and analyzing the case. Some of the more common business analysis frameworks that can be employed include Porter's Five Forces, Value Chain Analysis, Four P's of Marketing, and SWOT Analysis. The framework you decide to use should be a function of the type of case you're presented.

Where a specific framework for analysis isn't readily available or applicable, a general framework or analytical approach can be applied. The most important thing is that your approach to answering the case interiew question is structured and logical.



Regardless of the type of case you're presented, there will likely be a few main parameters and several factors that influence those parameters. The first thing you want to do is identify the parameters and factors, the then determine which are key to the case output.

For example, assume the case involves a company's declining profitability. From your initial review of the case information you determine the main parameters to consider are total revenues and total costs.

After defining the two main parameters, you'd then drill down further to the factors influencing each of the parameters you've identified. You determine the factors influencing total revenues are average price of goods sold and volume of goods sold. And for total costs, fixed costs and variable costs.

With both the case parameters and factors clearly identified you give yourself the ability to steer the conversation and begin to identify possible solutions. To identify areas of concern, you'll want to explore the history of the four influencing factors. At the end of your discussion with the interviewer you may determine that it's rising variable costs that are having the biggest impact on profitability. You'll then drill down even further to determine what is causing variable costs to rise and come up with more specific recommendations.

Building a graphic representation (tree, decision diagram, etc.) of parameters, factors and other influencing elements will help you structure your thought process, keep from missing key aspects of the case, and make a strong argument for the recommendations you'll make.

Using a framework or structured approach to developing a recommendation for a case study interview question provides the added benefit of giving the interviewer something to take back and present to his or her superiors to make the case that you're the right person for the job.

Whatever you do, don't force-fit frameworks. If a particular framework doesn't apply to the case, don't use it. Most frameworks incorporate universal concepts that can be applied to various business issues. Use the concepts you've learned in school or through prior work experience to support your analysis of the case. Show your interviewer that you understand these business concepts well enough that you can apply them to the specifics fo the business issue being presented in the case.

Below we're going to present several case interview questions organized by question type. To perfect your ability to perform well in case interviews, we recommend reviewing each question and then developing a logical framework or approach for answering each one.

Standard Case Interview Questions

As is the case in real life, there is usually no single correct answer to standard case interview questions. As long as you're able to prove your case, using sound analysis and by demonstrating an understanding of the main case issues, you're likely to do well. Below are some common standard case interview questions that provide great practice for case interviews.

  • What would be your approach for introducing a product into a foreign market? What are the risks and benefits to consider i.e. producing in your own country vs producing in the new country, etc?

  • Company ABC is struggling, should it be restructured? Identify the three main problems it's facing. What is the most important problem the company is facing? How would you recommend the company address this problem? How would you turn this company around? Provide your reasoning for your recommendation(s).

  • A toy company has been experiencing decline sales for the last two seasons. Research suggests that introducing several new product lines is the solution. Develop a marketing strategy for the company's largest product line, including pricing, product packing, etc.

  • A large chain of retail clothing stores is struggling with profitability. Bases on your review fo the company's financial statements, what problems can you identify? Can this company be turned arounds? How would you go about deciding?

  • A new Eddie Bauer Store is being opened up in London. Discuss all the marketing issues regarding the opening of this new location.

To perform well on standard case inteview questions you should be able to:

  • Take in information quickly and remember what you hear.
  • Identify key issues, prioritize and logically solve problems.
  • Make quick, yet accurate, decisions.
  • Manage time efficiently.
  • Perform under pressure.
  • Be aware of resource constraints.
  • Identify customer needs.
  • Be original and creative.

Market Sizing Case Interview Questions

A market sizing case interview question is one where you're asked to determine the size of market for a particular product. These types of case interview questions are popular, and actually not difficult to answer if you practice. The following a few examples of market sizing case interview questions.

  • Please provide the total weight of a fully loaded Jumbo Jet at the time of take off.
  • How many light bulbs are there in the United States?
  • How many photocopies are taken in the United Kingdom each year?
  • How much beer is consumed in the city of New York on Fridays?
  • How many people sell AMWAY products in the United States?
  • If there are 7,492 people participating in a tournament, how many games must be played to find a winner?
  • How many golf balls will fit in the Empire State Building?
  • How many car tire are sold in Canada each year?
  • Given thhe numbers 5 and 2000, what is the minimum number of guesses required to find a specific number if the only hint you're given is "higher" and "lower" for each guess made?
  • How do you determine the weight of a blue whale without using a scale?

The following are tips for answering market sizing case interview questions:

  • Take time to think before you answer the question.
  • If given a pen and paper, take notes and write down key information. Use the paper to make calculations, write down ideas and structure your answer.
  • Ask additional questions if you feel you are missing information. The interviewer is often expecting you to ask to find missing information.
  • Use lateral thinking and be creative. There isn't always just one right answer. Just make sure your answer is backed up by sound logic and numbers that make sense.
  • Make sure you know your math. At minimum you'll need to perform some basic arithmetic or mathematical calculations.
  • These quesitons are often used to test your ability to structure, as well as your ability to think laterallly, make logical links and communicate clearly.
  • Make mental calculations quickly by making sensible estimates and rounding numbers up or down.
  • Does your answer make sense? If you're answer doesn't make sense, chances are you've made a bad assumpation, estimate or calculation. Go back and carefully check your work and provide a new answer.
  • You can use business frameworks (SWOT, Porter's Five forces, etc.) or mind mapping to support your analysis and answers, as long as it makes sense.
  • Many market sizing questions revolve around issues being faced by an organization or industry. Commercial awareness can be very important to answering market sizing questions.

Logic Problems

Questions involving logic problems are designed to test your ability to think quickly and logically. These questions also require you to be able to perform numeracy quickly, while under pressure. The following are a few logic problems followed by their answers. Review the questions, develop your own answers, and then check your answers to see how well you did.

1. At 3:15, how many degrees there between the two hands of a clock? (J.P. Morgan interview question).

2. A fire fighter has to get to a burning building as quickly as he can. There are three paths that he can take. He can take his fire engine over a large hill (5 miles) at 10 miles per hour. He can take his fire engine through a windy road (7 miles) at 9 miles per hour. Or he can drive his fire engine along a dirt road which is 8 miles at 12 miles per hour. Which way should he choose?

3. You spend 21 dollars on vegetables at the store. You buy carrots, onions and celery. The celery cost half the cost of the onions. The onions cost have the cost of the carrots. How much did the onions cost?

4. You spend a third of all the money you have on a piano. Half of your remaining money you use to buy a piano chair. A quarter of the rest of your money you use to buy piano books. What porportion of you original money is remaining?

5. Why are manhole cover always round, instead of square?

6. In the Chicago subway system there are two escalators for going up but only one for going down to the subway. Why is that?

7. You find three boxes at the store. One contains onions. Another contains potatoes. The third contains both onions and potatoes. However, all three of the boxes are labeled incorrectly so it's impossible to tell which box contains what. By opening just one box (but without looking in) and removing either a potatoe or onion, how can you immediate label the contents of all the boxes?

8. There are 8 bags of wheat, 7 of which weigh the same amount. However, there is one that weighs less than the others. You are given a balance scale used for weighing. In less than three steps, figure out which bag weighs less than the rest.

9. There are 23 rugby teams playing in a tournament. What is the least number of games that must be played to find a tournament winner?

The following are the answers to the 9 logic problems above:

Clock

If you thought the answer was zero degrees, you'd be incorrect. At 3:15, the clock's minute hand will be pointing at 15 minutes, exactly 90 degrees clockwise from vertical. At 3:15, the clock's hour hand will exactly one quarter of the distance between 3 O'clock and 4 O'clock. Each of the 12 hours on the clock represents 30 degrees (360 degrees divided by the 12 hours on the clock). Consequently, one quarter of an hour is exactly 7.5 degrees, so at 3:15 the minute hand will be at 97.5 degrees. So there is a difference of 7.5 degrees between the hour hand and minute hand at 3:15.

Fire Fighter

Driving his fire engine 5 miles at 8 miles per hour takes 37.5 minutes. Driving his fire engine 7 miles at 9 miles per hour takes about 47 minutes. Driving his fire engine 8 milles at 12 miles per hour takes 40 minutes. So he should choose to drive his fire engine over the hill.

Store

Answering this problem just requires some simple algebra. If we assume the cost of celery = x, then the cost of onions = 2x, and cost of the carrots is 4x, such that the total cost of all vegetables = x + 2x + 4x = 7x = 21 dollars. Consequently, x = 3 dollars. Hence, the onions cost 6 dollars.

Piano

You spend a third of all the money you have on a piano, so you're left with two thirds (2/3). You spend half (1/2) of the remaining two thirds on a piano chair, which leaves you with just one third of what you started with (1/2x2/3=1/3). You spend a quarter (1/4) of what you have remaining (1/3) on piano books, which leaves you with one twelth of the original (1/4x1/3=1/12).

Manhole Cover

A square manhole cover can be dropped down the hole if turned diagonally to the hole, where round covers can't be dropped down manholes.

Chicago Subway

People coming into the subway tend to arrive at different times, so the flow of people down the escalators is a more even stream. Conversely, when people get off the subway they typically all arrive at the escalators at about the same time. Consequently, two escalators are need to handle people leaving the subway, where only one is required for people arriving.

Three Boxes

Just open the box that is labeled "Onions and Potatoes". Since none of the boxes are labeled correctly, this box must contain only onions, or only poatatoes. If you remove a potatoe from this box, the box must be the "Potatoes Only" box.

One of the remaining two box has to be the "Onions Only" box. However, the only you currently have it labeled "Potatoes Only", and the other is label "Onions Only". So the box labled "Potatoes Only" must be the box that contains only onions, and the box labeld "Onlions Only" must be the box that has both potatoes and onions.

Bags of Wheat

Immediately, take any 2 of the bags and place them to the side. Weigh 3 of the remaining six bags against the other 3 bags. If these bags weigh the same, that means the bag that weighs less must be one of the two that you immediately placed to one side. If this is the case, weigh the 2 bags you placed to one side against each other to find out which one weighs less. You've now found in your bag.

However, upon weighing the sets of 3 bags against one another you find that one set weighs more than the other set, place one of the bags from the set of heavier bags aside and weigh the remaining two bags to find out which one is heavier. If they are of equal weight, the you know that the bag you place to one side is the bag you're looking for.

Rugby Tournament

In a tournament, every rugby team except the winner is eliminated from the tournament after being defeated just once. Hence, the number of games required to find a tournament winner is going to be one less than the number of teams, or 22 in this case.

Business Case Interview Questions

The following are examples of common business case interview questions:

  • How would you work with a subordinate who is underperforming?

  • You're consulting with a large pharmacy with stores in multiple states. This company has improved sales but experienced a decrease in revenue. As a result, it is contemplating store closings. Explain how you'd advise this client?

  • You are working directly with a company's management team. It is organizing a project designed to significantly increase revenue. If you were provided with data and asked to supervise the project, what steps would you take to ensure it's successful?

  • You have been assigned to work with a small company that manufactures a popular product. However, a competitor begins selling a very similar product which incorporates state of the art technology. What would you advise your client to do?
  • You have been assigned to advise a company with a large Western European market. Company management wants to open the Chinese market. What advice do you have for this company?

  • The firm has assigned you to consult a company intending to drop a product or expand into new markets in order to increase revenue. What steps would you take to help this company achieve its objective?

  • You have been assigned to consult a shoe retailer with stores throughout the nation. Since its revenue is dropping, the company has proposed to sell food at its stores. How would you advise this client?

Case Interview Resources

In addition to the guides and articles presented on our website, there are several other good resources, including workshops, mock interviews, books and interactive online resources, that will prepare you for case interviews. Some of the resources we recommend are listed below.

Books

  • Vault Guide to the Case Interview
  • Vault Career Guide to Consulting
  • Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation
  • Mastering the Case Interview
  • Ace Your Case! Consulting Interviews (series 1-5)

Interactive Online Resources



Although almost every business is unique in its own way, there are some universal lessons that apply to just about any kind of business. In these case studies, we'll take a look at employee performance and retention, supply chain management, growth, ad spending, and more. Although the following are focused on specific businesses, all business students can learn lessons from their triumphs and mistakes. Read on, and you'll find 20 classic case studies you'd do well to know as a business student.

  • Workplace Drug Abuse

    Managers hope they'll never have to deal with employee drug abuse, but the fact is that it does happen. In this case, Amber, an administrative assistant started out well, but began to adopt strange and inconsistent behavior. Her work was maintained pretty well, but she began arriving late and calling in sick often, especially right around the time she got paid. She began borrowing and failing to repay money, and then started showing a short temper on the phone with customers. After being found in the ladies room sniffing white powder, she was confronted about a cocaine problem, and reacted by quitting immediately, leaving a hole in the organization for months before a replacement could be found and replaced. Experts believe the employer's actions were wrong, waiting too long to confront Amber, and focusing on accusations instead of criticizing behavior directly related to work, such as lateness and rudeness to clients. They also point out that Amber should have been sent in for a drug test before being outright accused of using cocaine, opening up the opportunity for rehabilitation instead of a severed tie.

  • Malden Mills

    Sometimes, doing the right thing is more important than profits, a lesson that Malden Mills learned firsthand. When the factory burned down in 1995 just two weeks before Christmas, production halted and employees assumed they'd be out of work until the factory was rebuilt. But CEO Aaron Feuerstein extended the employees 90 days at full pay, as well as 180 days with benefits at a cost of $25 million to Malden Mills. After the factory was rebuilt and all of the displaced workers were rehired, cooperation and productivity reached a new high, with 40% more business, 95% customer and employee retention, and a production increase from 130,000 to 200,000 yards per week. However, since then, Malden Mills has been to bankruptcy court three times, with much of the debt tied to the rebuild of the factory. Feuerstein made employees happy, to be sure, but business students should study this case to consider whether bold philanthropic actions will pay off in the end.

  • A Starbucks on Every Corner

    In 2008, Starbucks announced that they would be closing 600 US stores. Up to that point, Starbucks stores had added new offerings, including wi-fi and music for sale, but started to lose its warm "neighborhood store" feeling in favor of a chain store persona. Harvard Business Review points out that in this situation, "Starbucks is a mass brand attempting to command a premium price for an experience that is no longer special." Meaning, in order to keep up, Starbucks would either have to cut prices, or cut down on stores to restore its brand exclusivity. HBR's case study shares three problems with the growth of Starbucks: alienating early adopters, too broad of an appeal, and superficial growth through new stores and products. Harvard recommends that Starbucks should have stayed private, growing at a controlled pace to maintain its status as a premium brand.

  • Small Customers, Big Profits

    Big business is attractive, with huge profits for some. But there's something to be said about small business as well, with lower risk and the potential for creativity. Darren Robbins of Big D Custom Screen Printing in Austin, TX found success in his business by pursuing customers with orders both large and small. Although Big D started out catering only to large orders, the shop sat idle in between orders, and through effective scheduling and transparent pricing, was able to fill in dead times with smaller orders. Big D found a profit in a market segment that other local screen printers weren't clamoring to fill. Experts believe this was a smart strategy, allowing Big D to spread out risk in their business and offer customized products. But at least one person is critical of the offering, pointing out that the niche has little upside potential, and may hurt the company's efficiency.

  • Succession Planning

    Family businesses typically have the luxury of passing the torch down to children after parents retire, but in some cases, there are no candidates, or the candidates may not be right for the role. This presents a challenge when it's time to find a successor, especially if existing employees have assumed that top level promotions would come from within the family. So the Carlson companies had to put in great effort to find a replacement, looking both internally and outside of the company, ultimately finding an internal candidate who would work well with the family but also offered plenty of experience as an executive in different industries. According to Beverly Behan of Hay's Group, Carlson should be commended for not only making the right decision in not hiring the heir apparent, but for handling the job search in a calm, effective way.

  • Retiring Employees, Lost Knowledge

    Another important retirement issue is one of lost knowledge. What happens when retirees leave the office, taking years of experience and know-how right along with them? Businesses lose all of that knowledge, but according to American Express, it doesn't have to be that way. Through a pilot program, AMEX created a workforce transformation group that would allow retiring participants to gradually give up some of their day to day responsibilities. In return, the employees would spend some of this time mentoring and teaching classes to successors. This resulted in a phased retirement, allowing employees to leave gradually and enjoy more time while still enjoying a portion of their previous salary, and regular benefits. This also meant that some employees stayed a year or more past traditional retirement age. AMEX believes this program is a success, allowing senior employees to enjoy their last years of work in a reduced capacity, as well as educating the existing workforce for future success. Consultant David DeLong agrees, citing this program as an example of how job handoffs should really work.

  • Strategic Ad Spending

    Advertising costs money, which many businesses find themselves short of these days. But forgoing ad spending in favor of better profits can be a mistake. Experts say that in a slump, one of the best things you can do is adopt or increase your advertising strategy to attract customers. During a recession, this is especially true, as other businesses may be cutting back on their ad spending, making your voice even more prominent to customers. After seven years of growth, buliding from 30 to 300 locations, Firehouse Subs' growth fizzled, and company leaders realized they had to do something about it. So they returned local advertising fees collected from franchisees, not to put in their pockets, but to take hold of their own local marketing. Sales fell even more, revealing that this was not a good strategy at the time. Instead, Firehouse reclaimed their local marketing fee, and then gave franchisees the option to take part in a new marketing campaign, requiring them to pay double for local marketing, but in return, becoming part of an $8 million advertising campaign poised for success. Experts commend Firehouse for having the courage to ask franchisees for more money where it was needed, even when times were tough.

  • Tylenol's 1982 Scandal

    In 1982, seven people in Chicago died after taking Tylenol due to an unknown suspect lacing the capsules with cyanide after the products reached the shelves. In the immediate aftermath, Tylenol's commanding 37% market share dropped to just 7% nationwide, despite the problem being contained to the Chicago area. Tylenol was not responsible for the tampering of the product, but to maintain the product's reputation, Johnson & Johnson pulled all of the Tylenol from the shelves, absorbing a loss of more than $100 million dollars. Tylenol was successfully reintroduced with tamper resistant packaging, discounts, and sales presentations to the medical community. The brand survived due to swift action and effective public relations from Johnson & Johnson.

  • David vs. Goliath

    It's tough to be the little guy, especially when one of the big guys becomes your direct competition. But at Hangers Cleaners, an offbeat image and good customer service helped them pull through when P&G opened an eco-friendly dry cleaners in the same town. Hangers differentiated itself through van delivery service, funny t-shirts and hangers, as well as social networking. The company also spent time connecting with the community by partnering with local businesses and charities. Instead of out-pricing or out-spending P&G, Hangers embraced its personality and adopted a culture of excellent service that customers found value in. As a result, Hangers has experienced growth while other local dry cleaners have reported flat or declining revenues.

  • Market Expansion Through Partnership

    To support new growth, businesses have to expand past their initial customer base, an often daunting task for small businesses. However, partnering with another successful company can help businesses reach a new level. Diagnostic Hybrids, specializing in medical diagnostics, did just that, partnering with Quidel, a market leader in rapid diagnostic tests. This partnership allowed Diagnostic Hybrids to enjoy a larger market presence, as well as take advantage of better research and development resources. Although Diagnostic Hybrids was acquired by Quidel, key elements of the organization remain, with the same company president, and operation as a separate subsidiary.

  • Tesco's International Expansion

    Tesco's move into Korea offers a classic case study of building market share internationally. The company made some smart moves in their Korean expansion, most notably partnering with Samsung, the leading Korean conglomerate, and embracing the Korean way of life by operating stores as local businesses and community centers. Tesco also made a smart move by employing nearly 100% Koreans on staff, with only 4 British employees out of 23,000. Reports indicate that Tesco's intelligent strategy has won over shoppers in Seoul, with 25% of Koreans signed up for loyalty cards and sales in the billions, finding success in "crack[ing] the Asian tiger," where competitors such as Carrefour and Wal-Mart have failed.

  • Triumph in Niche Exports

    Another excellent international case study comes from bike manufacturer Triumph, which lost steam in its British home base three decades ago, but found new life by heading overseas. In 2010, Triumph sold just 7,562 bikes in the UK, but 50,000 worldwide, indicating that an international interest paid off for the company. Triumph's famous factory in Warwickshire closed up shop in 1983, but the Indian factory remained, and these days, the motorcycles have become the country's Harley Davidson. The company struggles to meet demand in India, with a six month waiting list and a new factory being built. India's middle class has embraced the vehicle as an affordable commodity, even giving them as dowries in weddings.

  • Background Checks for Job Candidates

    Background checks are an issue faced by many companies, as sensitive information is now more public than ever. OfficeDrop is no exception, as the company scans paper into digital files, including patient records and minister sermons, most of which require trustworthy employees who can handle documents discreetly. Many companies offer quick, superficial checks, but for OfficeDrop owner Prasad Thammineni, more information was required. He found a company that would allow research to delve into a number of different sources and perform a more comprehensive search. Other business owners offered somewhat critical opinions of Thammineni's choice, pointing out that instead of Googling to find a background check company, he should have asked his business network who they were using. They also recommended that he take advantage of free resources, including online searches and checking out social media sites to learn more about job candidates.

  • Employee Engagement in Tough Times

    When Gamal Aziz stepped in as president of the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, he didn't just take on a $400 million spruce up of the hotel, he worked on the employees as well. He asked rank and file employees to share their insight through a hotel, discovering that there was a disconnect between what was going on at the hotel and the knowledge of staff. He implemented an easy fix, creating short meetings at the start of every shift to inform employees of daily happenings so that staff could offer more to guests, improving customer loyalty, return visits, and spending. Experts laud Aziz for differentiating the MGM grand with top quality service from the employees.

  • Social Media Serves Up Creme Brulee

    Marketing is key, whether you're a multibillion dollar company, or just a guy with a cart full of creme brulee. But just doing it isn't enough: you have to market effectively. Curtis Kimball, the man behind the Creme Brulee Cart, put Twitter to work for him amassing thousands of followers and growing his business by allowing people to follow the cart through the online service. Kimball engages with customers and develops a personal relationship with followers online, asking for suggestions on flavors and cart locations. Perhaps the most impressive part of this story is the fact that Kimball has no marketing budget (Twitter is a free service), yet enjoys an incredibly popular status and high ratings on Yelp.

  • Overreaching Products, Suffering Sales

    You can't be everything to everyone, as Hickory Farms found out. A company that started out with holiday gift baskets including sausage, ham, and cheese at one point had an offering of 2,500 different products, sprawling the company and resulting in a loss of favor with customers. Recognizing this issue, Hickory Farms streamlined itself, slashing their number of products from 2,500 to 300 with more modern visuals, descriptions, and other features, including less packaging and more recycled content. The company also overhauled their website, making it easier to shop online. All of this streamlining resulted in a price reduction of 13% that Hickory Farms was able to pass on to their customers. Brand strategist Jennifer Woodbery believes that this was a smart move, making the most of Hickory Farms' trusted name and image with an effective rebranding of offerings.

  • Maintaining Consistently Good Employees

    It happens all the time: good employees get a promotion, and suddenly, they're not so good anymore. Such is the case for cat shelter Paws Need Families, as Della, a cleaner turned assistant manager, then manager started arriving late, letting applications sit, and slipped on inoculations, all serious offenses. Instead of confronting Della directly, general meetings were held, and an assistant manager was hired to compensate for Della's shortcomings. Ultimately, Della never cleaned up her act, and was fired. Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager believes this situation could have been avoided with frequent meetings and support with a system of review, both of which can identify issues before they become real problems.

  • Recall Crisis Management

    In 2009, Maclaren issued a recall for every stroller it had sold in the US for a decade, which came to 1 million units. The strollers were recalled so that a cover could be installed to prevent amputation of a baby's fingers, which could happen if the baby were to be in the stroller in the wrong spot. As a luxury brand, this incident was damaging even though it was a misuse of the product and not a defect. Experts believe that Maclaren did the right thing in the aftermath of the recall, asking for a fast track recall from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and got out in front of the recall as it started spreading through the press, saving face and further embracing a mission of child safety.

  • Dealing with Late Paying Clients

    We all hope that clients will pay on time, but the fact is that most businesses have to deal with lateness at some point or another. How you deal with it can make all the difference, and this case study reveals a smart strategy. When a client wrote to check in on the progress of work, a web developer replied that she was hesitant to work quickly for that client because she was still waiting on payments for month-old work. This immediately got the attention of the clients, who contacted her and discovered that their checks were not going to the right address. The problem was solved almost instantaneously, enforcing both leverage and rewarding positive behavior. However, it was risky, and the client criticized her for not sharing a warning before coming to a difficult point.

  • Supply chain disruption

    In 2000, a fire at the Philips microchip plant affected phone manufacturers Nokia And Ericsson. The companies reacted in different ways, and ultimately, Ericsson did not do well, quitting the mobile phone business and allowing Nokia to win over the European market. While Ericsson had tied up all of its key components in a single source and planned to wait out the problem with the fire, Nokia worked to snatch up spare chips from other plants and suppliers, as well as re-engineered some of their phones to adapt to different chips from new suppliers. It's not hard to imagine what happened after that. Nokia kept trucking along, while Ericsson suffered from months of lost production and sales, allowing the market to be dominated by Nokia. This incident and fallout is a classic lesson in supply chain risk management.

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