Do HBR Case Studies Still Matter?
I’ve noticed that Critical Case Studies are a bit controversial in the corporate world. Most people I know who attend training for a sales or marketing position regard Critical Case Studies as boring and not necessary. But I think there’s a huge difference between Critical Case Studies.
One of the most common questions I’ve received from students is, “Are Critical Case Studies necessary?” That question seems to imply that someone who loves Case Studies must be shallow. But just as there are those who really love the old Visual Case Study formulas, there are also those who love Critical Case Studies, and they are not shallow at all.
Some people think they have to be knowledgeable in Visual Case Study analysis before they can run their own Business Case Studies. In reality, it takes a critical understanding of both the data and the case studies. It’s not necessary to have Case Study Analysis to run a successful business, but it’s also not necessary to get knowledge in a Case Study Analysis to run a successful business. You just need to have a critical interest in doing Case Study analysis to understand the data.
If you don’t have a desire to run Case Study analysis and you still run your business this way, you are one of the more intelligent people I’ve ever met. (But you’re also one of the few.)
In the good old days, the formula for a case study was to get a few cases with similar characteristics and then look at them and say, “We need to do one like this.” That’s not the approach that’s taken today.
A company needs to run many different case studies if it wants to see where its competitors are overcharging and underpricing. In addition, many businesses are trying to attract new customers and need to do a thorough case study analysis of each person they recruit and test their skills. The HBRs of the world are completely missing the point of the time when Case Study Analysis was used to model everything from traffic patterns to cosmetics. That’s still used today, but the power of Case Study Analysis is no longer required.
So, when you ask yourself whether Case Study Analysis is still relevant, consider the above and ask yourself, “How does Case Study Analysis work?” And what, exactly, is the value of doing so?
Case Study Analysis is a means by which you can identify trends and change directions quickly. One of the most compelling arguments for doing Case Study Analysis in the corporate world is that we are in an information age. And corporations that play it smart and innovate for the long term will keep you ahead of your competition.
Of course, the best way to do Case Study Analysis is to use your intuition. You need to get a feel for the business. If a certain case makes you feel strongly about doing something, then do it!
So, rather than get stuck thinking, “Is Case Study Analysis obsolete?” Ask yourself, “Am I using my intuitive powers to answer the question of whether something is needed?”
When you get past that, it’s pretty clear that Case Study Analysis is better than trying to apply hunches and vague hunches to a complex business situation. You need a much broader experience to do a Case Study Analysis than to be an avid user of Case Study Analysis.