Distinguish symptoms from deeper underlying problems.

Topic: Burger King France: Acquiring the Quick Chain

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Case brief no more than 4 pages. On a Ivey Publishing Case study on “Burger King France: Acquiring the Quick Chain”. (Attached is the case and Case Brief guidelines) Case Brief format: 1. Problem Statement 2. Situation Analysis 3. Legitimate Alternatives 4. Recommendations 5. Implementation I am struggling with choosing the problem I want to solve in my case brief and formulating my problem statement

Guidelines for Preparing Cases, Participating in Class, and Writing Case Briefs

While some of you may have significant experience analyzing and preparing business cases, others may be new to the process. Further, a critical element in our learning is listening to the comments of others and adding our own thoughts and ideas. The following guidelines can help you to better understand how to analyze business cases as well as participate in the discussion of cases and other aspects of the course. The guidelines are designed to help you in case preparation, class participation, writing case briefs, as well as some general “do’s and don’ts.”

Template for Preparing Marketing Cases

  1. Read the case discussion questions provided and the case quickly several days before we cover it in class and before reading the related topic in the text.
  • Skim to get a feel for the major issues and layout of the case
  • Identify the protagonist in the case
  1. Read the case carefully – maybe 1-2 days later.
  • Identify key aspects of the situation analysis
  • Highlight and distinguish important information, omissions, and questions
  1. Identify the problem facing the protagonist in the case.
  • Distinguish symptoms from deeper underlying problems
  • What analysis questions will inform the issue?
  • Can the data provided be worked further?
  • What aspects of the situation analysis are relevant? Why?
  1. Consider alternative courses of action
  1. Make a decision — take a stand and be prepared to defend it!
  • Develop a plan with logical support based on facts and intuition
  1. Test the plan and analysis before your classmates and against the analysis of others
  1. Keep in mind that the best possible template is one that you develop on your own. Use mine as a starting point and adapt it to best fit your needs.

Class Discussion and Your Participation

While at times this class will employ a lecture/discussion format, cases will represent a good portion of our class time.  In these sessions, the participation of all students is particularly important.  Case analysis and discussion fosters the refinement of several of the objectives of the class – in particular your analytical skills and verbal communication skills.  A critical skill of successful managers is their ability to communicate their ideas about how to deal with complex management problems.  Seize this opportunity to refine these skills by practicing regularly by contributing to class discussions.

The criteria for evaluating quality of class participation are multifaceted.  Evaluation will be based on the extent, content, and quality of your participation.  Here is a list of the kinds of criteria that will be used in evaluating class participation:

  • Do comments demonstrate thorough analysis and preparation of the case?
  • Are comments adding to the flow of the discussion? Comments should be linked to the comments of others and in the flow of the discussion.  Comments should not merely restate points which have already been made.
  • Do comments give us a better understanding of the situation?
  • Do comments present “new” ideas, or are all comments “safe”? You should be willing to take controversial stands, but be sure you have some defense for your position.
  • Is the participant willing to interact with other class members? This includes being a good listener and understanding the points made by others.
  • Do comments show an understanding of theories, concepts, and analytical approaches presented in class lectures or reading materials?
  • Do comments and questions reflect a critical but open-minded weighing of alternative and sometimes conflicting points of view, or are they limited to advocacy of previously held beliefs?

APPENDIX

Writing Case Briefs

Writing up case briefs is sometimes difficult for students at first. The first key is successfully analyzing cases – for helpful hints look elsewhere in these Guidelines for Case Analysis.  It is also useful to have a template or format for writing up cases. I provide a particular format for presenting your ideas that will make this process easier.  The format used for the brief is standardized and must be followed. You should have headings for each of the following sections:

  1. Problem Statement. You should provide a brief statement of the key problem in the case.  Be sure to focus on a problem – not a symptom. Typically, this is not more than 2-3 sentences. You should focus on one problem – even if the case has more than one.  All of your subsequent analysis should be directly related to this problem.
  2. Situation Analysis. Summarize the key factors of the situation that drive your subsequent recommendation and implementation. Don’t list all the facts. Situation analysis could include assessment of each of the 5 C’s (customers, competition, company, collaborators, and context). Focus on facts that are relevant to the problem statement.
  3. Alternatives. Briefly discuss at least 2 alternative solutions that you considered – but did not choose – in your analysis and explicitly recognize the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages of each.
  4. Recommendation. Describe and critically evaluate your recommendation – you should list pros and cons of your chosen course of action.
  5. Implementation Plan. Develop a plan for implementing the alternative you recommend. The implementation should be practical, consider the costs and benefits, and include some type of time frame. These are essential elements and sometimes require making some assumptions – make (and detail) the assumptions necessary to put forth your plan.

Make sure your case brief is easy to read and follow.  Use bullets, headings, etc., to make the write-up easy to navigate.

The objective of this process is to give you practice writing concise executive summaries – something that would make the reader believe that you have done a thorough analysis supporting your recommendations. This is the type of briefing that must typically be prepared for upper management – before they provide the resources for a more detailed investigation.

Good case briefs are concise, but also provide a fact-based rationale for your recommendations and implementation plan. The rationale should reflect a good understanding of the important issues of the case and may integrate previous material from the class or your experience. You might also note factors that argue against your recommendation, and how your implementation plan might minimize the impact of these factors.

Case briefs must not exceed 4 pages of text, single-spaced and double spaced between paragraphs (see this document).  In addition, you can have up to two more pages in exhibits, graphs, spreadsheets or figures.

Do’s and Don’ts of Case Analysis

There are a number of common problems and issues which come up in case analysis.  Although many of these apply specifically to written case briefs, most apply equally to preparing for case discussions in class. I have listed and described these briefly below:

  1. Don’t rehash the facts of the case. It is critical to understand (and include in a write-up or discussion) the “key” facts of the case – those which drive subsequent recommendations.
  2. Don’t ignore alternatives you did not consider. You should briefly recognize alternative courses of action, which you chose NOT to recommend.  In preparing for in-class discussion, you should be able to clearly articulate why other alternatives were not chosen.
  3. Do critically evaluate data and issues. One of the objectives of this class is to prioritize important information. The “facts” provided in the case may be more/less relevant, more/less important, and more/less valid. As you interpret the data from the case, be sure to critically evaluate each. Consider the problem you have identified and whether and how the facts are relevant to that problem. Also, be sure to consider the data being presented – was the data collected in a reasonable manner, consider the actor and the context before taking what an actor says as “truth.” Be sure to qualify conclusions when the data you rely upon is more suspect.
  4. Do make your Appendices and Exhibits comprehensible. Be sure any additional information that you provide is self-explanatory.
  5. Do provide a strong analysis. The analysis or rationale should:  be focused on the key problem you identify in the case, consider evidence that favors and opposes a particular alternative, be correct in analysis and not making inappropriate assumptions, and draw upon relevant theories and concepts and analytical tools from class and readings.
  6. Do offer strong recommendations and implementation plans. Make sure your recommendations and implementation plans:  are specific, are practical, consider costs involved, and can be implemented by the firm, – clearly indicate target markets, consider the timing of the implementation plan, and address the key problem you identify in the case.
  7. Don’t have unstated or unreasonable assumptions. In making case decisions (as in the real world) you will never have all the data you would like. Your analysis and recommendations will therefore have to draw on assumptions – be sure to state these where appropriate and be sure they are reasonable.
  8. Do proofread. Briefs should be carefully edited and of the quality you would submit to a manager.
  9. Don’t bring in information from outside the case. Our case discussions and your write-ups should be based upon the information presented in the written case. When you add outside information – that is only known by a few people – you add confusion to our discussion. Although you may know or find out what the company actually did in a particular situation, this does not necessarily make the decision right.
  10. Do remember that there is no correct answer. One thing about business is that there is rarely a single right answer – there are many paths to success. In my evaluations of our discussions and your write-ups, I will heavily weight the logic and rationale that you use to come to your conclusions. Still, there are many wrong answers – those that are not well-supported by analysis and logic.

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