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Brainstorming in my head is tough

This post is the 5th one from Victoria, one of our TCO subscribers. She explains her process of learning brainstorming. 

Brainstorming is the most important skill to master in case interview preparation and I still struggle to be structured when I brainstorm in my head versus on paper. I have to spend more time practicing brainstorming cases without first writing down my thoughts.

This is my 5th post describing my journey to management consulting.

Preparation before the session:

Building general knowledge: I continue to read news and business articles (mostly www.nytimes.com, www.economist.com, HBR and www.washingtonpost.com) every day to build general knowledge (4-5 articles per day, mostly from business section).

I try to select articles that discuss issues that I can use for brainstorming training, prior to reading the article. Thereafter I check if I covered all key points mentioned in the article.

The Mind of the Strategist, chapter 4: I worked through the 4th chapter of “The Mind of the Strategist” by Kenichi Ohmae, called “Building on relative superiority”.

The author explains in more detail the 2nd basic strategy explained in chapter 2, which is business strategy based on relative superiority: taking advantage of differences in the composition of assets of the company versus its competitors.

Videos / Podcasts: I watched/listened to several Firmsconsulting videos/podcasts.

a) “Australia wine cork annual market size per annum”, estimation case – key learning was buffer factor.

b) “Brainstorming BMW’s productivity increase” – must watch case!

What was accomplished:

Linkedin: One more management consulting partner agreed to meet with me.

Resume: I made the final changes to my resume.

Felix’s case interview preparation: I defined oil dependency in the same way as Felix so my brainstorming was based on that definition. What I do not like about brainstorming in your head is that it is very difficult to remain as structured as you can be when you are allowed to write out your decision tree.

However, I think with practice I can learn to be structured even if I cannot write down my brainstorming analysis.

Georgina Chapman Oscar gowns estimation: I went from the supply side as I assumed only about 10 gowns will be produced per year, percentage of which will be requested by stylists and, in turn, percentage of requested gowns will be selected for Oscars. One should not underestimate the value of watching reality TV (Rachel Zoe in this case)!

Data cases: I really liked the coach’s hypothesis for the 3rd graph.

Unfortunately, so far I find data cases the least interesting to solve. I will have to add them to my daily regimen to read at least 1 article with graphs from McKinsey quarterly or BCG. Prior to reading the article, I will try to interpret graphs and thereafter read the article to see what I may have missed or misunderstood.

Summary

Score out of 10: 8

Communication 7.5

Technical 8.5

Confidence 8

Strengths: Good general knowledge.

Opportunities: I need to practice data cases the way Firmsconsulting recommended in the solution video for data cases. I also need to improve my performance in brainstorming cases. I do well up to level 3 of the decision tree, but not thereafter. I also struggle to prioritize the branches and generate hypotheses quickly. My hypotheses are usually messy or I just forget to do them.

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