Gentle Bamboo Solutions

Case Studies


[Today and in the next few emails, Rakshith explores Case Studies as a training tool. Over to him.]

I reconnected with a long-lost friend, Paritosh, over the weekend who reminisced about participating in Case-Study competitions in his MBA days.

I have been fascinated by case studies for a while now. I have longed to create intricate case studies in our training programs. I believe that in a case study discussion, both the trainer and participant must be active in different ways. Each is dependent on the other to bring about teaching and learning. Trainers are experts, but they rarely deliver their expertise directly. The art of a trainer using case studies is to ask the right question at the right time, provide feedback on answers, and sustain a discussion that opens up meanings of the case.

So, I decided to learn how to write, analyze, facilitate, and answer case studies. I had a long conversation with Paritosh and he recommended some case discussions. I’ll share with you what I am picking up as I go this week.

Let’s start from the beginning. What is a case?

A case simulates a real situation. Cases are representations of reality that put the reader in the role of a participant in the situation. The reader must navigate all the cross-currents of the situation including irrelevancies, sideshows, misconceptions, and little information or an overwhelming amount of it.

Many times, in simplistic scenarios I used to present in my training sessions, I would represent the real world as logical and coherent. But real business situations are fluid and inevitably involve uncertainty. They don’t present selected and sorted information. Cases don’t either. Real situations consist of some clarity, too much or too little information, people’s biases, and lots of contingency. So do cases. They are essentially laboratories for participants to practice and think in a safe environment.

Since this realization yesterday, I binge-watched case study discussions on YouTube. The way cases are structured, I believe they can be superb tools for facilitation. We’ll discuss that tomorrow.

Have you used case studies in your classes or training? How do you facilitate a case study?

In case you are interested,