Case Study: BLUE TURTLE CLOTHING COMPANY
Source: Ivey Publishing. Richard Ivey School of Business. The University of Western Ontario.
Case code: 9B06B011
Copyright 2006, Ivey Management Services
Requirements: Prepare a case report following the case study method
Following the case study method:
Case study is the process of learning by doing. It will be through case study that you learn and apply the concepts of the course. In contrast to conventional teaching and learning, you must become engaged in the process of analysis rather than participate by listening or observing.
In the case method, you read a story about a real problem a manager has faced in the planning or operation of a business. The task is not so much about finding the correct answer as it is about pinpointing the problem and developing a well-thought-out and justifiable resolution. Because it is based on a real situation, it has all the elements associated with typical management challenges: time constraints, information constraints, lack of knowledge of the competitor?s strategy, and often lack of market research. Typically, the case writer will include information superfluous to the decision. More information is always desired, but not usually available; this is reality. Managers often do not have the time or resources to seek more information. Further complicating matters is the dynamic business environment in which a company operates. Companies interact and compete with many other organizations, which are also engaged in decision making influencing future outcomes.
Case study is useful as a learning experience because it trains you to deal with unstructured information, to sift through and identify what is important and disregard the rest, to deal with both quantitative and qualitative data, to make reasonable assumptions, and to find an appropriate resolution. It is stimulating and engaging, as you have to become involved with and take ownership of your analysis and then defend it in the face of critique from colleagues and the instructor.
Steps in the case method
Before you begin your analysis, skim through the case to get an understanding of the structure from a writing framework perspective. Look at each exhibit to ensure you comprehend its content and relevance. Try to determine what the major question or issue is for the case. Then go back and give it a careful reading, making notes in the margins to identify the evidence components of your analysis. In this way, you can more easily gather evidence to support your strategy or analysis.
Once you have done this, you are ready to organize your thinking toward a resolution. Use the following steps.
1. Problem statement
2. Situation analysis (current status)
a. Company objectives, background, and forecast
b. Company fit in the environment: internal and external factors (SWOT with implications)
c. Market analysis
d. Segmentation analysis
e. Competition analysis
f. Financial analysis
3. Case keys
4. Analysis of alternative solutions (pros and cons of each plus quantitative assessment and key uncertainties)
6. Action plan
You may be tempted to waffle and avoid making a decision, or decide you need more information. This is not an acceptable strategy. In all cases, you must make a decision and justify it. It is not a comfortable process initially, but as you try, you will improve. Do not generalize or give an unsubstantiated opinion, as this is not what your supervisor (or instructor) is expecting. Make reasoned statements citing supporting evidence. With time, you will see increased proficiency and confidence in your assessments.
Case report format
This outline of a case report format will help you to write your case report.
An executive summary is an abbreviated version of the complete report or plan, providing the reader with the main points on one page, if possible. That it is brief does not mean it should be vague. It should contain original writing, not a copy of your introduction. Specific facts, income levels (condensed projected income statement or statement of contribution), and market share numbers should be provided. The addition of specifics should not add much to the length. This page is extremely important, as it must hold the attention of the reader (for example, your manager, instructor, or a venture capitalist) and motivate them both to choose to accept your plan or recommendation without further examination and to read further because they are interested.
This part of the report should be written last, after completion of the major sections of the main report. The executive summary should be followed by a detailed case report based on points 1 to 6 below.
1. Problem statement: Identify the problem in one or two sentences that include all the main elements of the central problem(s) described in the case. Do not repeat the details of the case.
2. Situation analysis: Analyze and interpret the facts of the case that are relevant to the problem and its potential solution. Summarize the key facts of the case; state assumptions or inferences about missing information; identify the main issues about the organization or the situation and relate them to the problem. Focus on the symptoms and explain how they relate to the problem. The following subsections and focus questions are often useful in this part of the report, but do not necessarily limit your report to those listed ? they are provided as examples. The report should always be adapted to its context and purpose.
o Objectives and goals: What are the objectives of the individuals and the goals of the organization?
o Background and forecast: What is the current strategy and positioning of the organization? Looking at the current situation, what has happened? What is likely to happen in the near or long-term future? Why is change necessary?
o SWOT analysis: Explain internal strengths and weaknesses and external environment opportunities (to the company) and threats, and provide a summary statement of implications.
o Market analysis: Provide information on the size and growth of the market, the environment, current and past strategies, and the marketing mix, including the following:
? Segmentation analysis: Provide information on segmentation, attractive segments, present and potential segmentation, profitability of each segment (for the purpose of this course, customers are those in the distribution channel who purchase products, while consumers are the final purchasers or end users).
? Competition analysis: Provide the strategy used by each competitor (segments, and so on).
o Financial analysis: General financial evaluation with additional information (when available) on specifics such as capital costs, yearly operating expenses, contribution margin per unit or percent, and break-even analysis. Expected contribution from your strategy and best, worst, and expected scenarios are required.
3. Case Keys: What is the key question, opportunity or issue in the case?
? Key success factors: Determine the main factors that are vital to the success of the company (maximum of three factors)
? Key uncertainties: Determine the main factors that could seriously damage the chosen strategy (maximum of three factors)
? Analysis of alternative solutions: Generate distinct, realistic alternative solutions to the problem. Identify all options; eliminate those that do not fit with goals, objectives, or resources. Discuss pros and cons. Build an argument to accept one and reject qualitative and quantitative considerations and include target segment and suggested marketing mix. Address key uncertainties that could seriously damage the chosen alternative.
4. Recommendation(s): Clearly state the chosen alternative with concise reasons in support of the objectives and resources of the firm, the expected rate of return, the risk of failure, and the competitive reaction. Explain the short- and long-term implications (including target segment, market mix, benefit package)
5. Action plan: Provide detailed steps and phases in implementation. Focus on the short term. Address contingencies ? what if…? Provide reasonable alternatives to put in place if the action plan fails.
Provide exhibits, references, a bibliography, timelines, and so on. All exhibits should be referred to in the body of the analysis
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