Gentle Bamboo Solutions

[Case Studies] The 5 Stages of a Case Discussion


[This week, Rakshith explores Case Studies as a training tool. Over to him.]

Building on the premise of creating open spaces in the classroom, I’ve been thinking about how I might facilitate a case discussion. Here’s the situation as I see it.

It’s a 3-hour program (180 minutes). With 15 minutes set aside for a break, 15 minutes for an ice-breaker, and 15 minutes to close the session and gather feedback, I have 135 minutes of discussion time.

I am making three assumptions:

  1. The case is complex and has the characteristics I described in Tuesday’s mail.
  2. All the objectives and outcomes set for this training can be accomplished with this one case.
  3. The participants haven’t come prepared. They haven’t read the case in advance.

My role is to enable the learners to think deeply about the case and discuss it fearlessly in my classroom. To enable fearless discussion, I will have to create a motivating (Gamification), safe (Personalisation), and collaborative (Socialisation) environment. We’ll explore that in a different mail. But, for learners to think deeply about the case, I think there are 5 stages a learner has to pass in the case discussion:

Stage 1: What is the situation being described in the case? (15 minutes)

Stage 2: What else do I need to know about this situation and can I find it in the case? (15 minutes)

Stage 3: What is my hypothesis? (45 minutes)

Stage 4: How do I support my hypothesis and what am I recommending as immediate next steps to act on my hypothesis? (45 minutes)

Stage 5: What if my hypothesis is wrong? What is my next best option? (15 minutes)

While this may intuitively seem like an iterative process, in a training session I would approach this in a sequential manner, very much like how you would when facilitating a session on Six Thinking Hats or Design Thinking. This is not to discourage ideas but to gently park them for the appropriate time so that the case discussion can at all times be focused. That’s my interpretation of balancing empty and full space in a classroom; provide freedom within a structure.

Will this lead to a strong conclusion every time? I doubt it. Having watched a few case discussions now and having talked to people who have both participated in them and facilitated them, I think most case discussions lead to dubious conclusions. But the discussion and the thinking it sparks off in you can be an invaluable experience.

In the final stage of this series,