How to Conclude a Case

In Wednesday’s article about how to be concise, we briefly discussed what a good conclusion looks like.

Today’s article is going to touch on why a good conclusion is important, the mistakes most people make, and how to structure conclusions with single or multiple recommendations.

Why is a Good Conclusion Important?

Have you ever watched a really good movie that has a really bad ending? It’s kind of disappointing right?

A weak conclusion has much the same effect on an interviewer.

And it’s the last thing they get from you, so it’s what they remember.

What Mistakes do Most People Make?

The common mistakes are:

1. Spending too long explaining the problem.

2. Using a deductive rather than inductive argument.

3. Being too detailed.

Explaining The Problem

Most people spend too much time explaining the problem. It’s probably fine to mention briefly what the issue ended up being, but your conclusion should be action-oriented (i.e. you are telling somebody to do something based on your analysis). After all, that’s what they’re paying you for.

Deductive Arguments

Most people try to use a deductive argument in their conclusion (where they try to prove the logic of their recommendation step by step). Let’s take an example of how this would sound like:

You should buy a company in another industry because:

1. Prices are falling because competitors engaged you in a price war.

2. Competitors engaged you in a price war because the product has become commoditized.

3. The product has become commoditized because of the introduction of new technology.

4. The new technology has spread, so there’s no way to prevent prices from falling further.

5. Because we can’t prevent prices from falling further we need to enter a new industry.

5. The fastest way for you to enter a new industry is to acquire a company in that industry.

6. Hence, you should buy a company in another industry.

It makes sense on paper, but try saying it out loud and see if you can follow it.

Inductive Arguments

An easier to follow inductive argument (where you just talk about related pieces of evidence to support your conclusion) would be:

You should buy a company in another industry because:

1. Your industry is in terminal decline.

2. It would be easier to make money in another industry.

3. The easiest way for you to enter another industry is by acquisition.

it’s basically the same argument but much easier to understand, with the caveat that it isn’t as airtight as the deductive version.

Always use inductive arguments in oral conclusions because they’re easier to understand.

Being Too Detailed

Most people try to put too much detail into their conclusion. I would say, trend toward putting as little as you can. A good conclusion shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds. If the person is curious, they can ask follow up questions.

Structuring Conclusions with 1 Recommendation

This one’s easy, it sounds like this:

To meet your goal of X, you should do Y for three reasons:

1. Reason A

2. Reason B

3. Reason C

And for next steps, we’d like to look at D and E.

It’s action oriented, inductive, and concise.

Example Conclusions with 1 Recommendation

To meet your goal of higher profits, you should increase prices for three reasons:

1. It will increase your profit by $30 million.

2. Your customers aren’t price sensitive.

3. Your margins are lower than competitors.

And for next steps, we’d like to help you choose a price point and figure out how to explain it to customers.

Structuring Conclusions with Multiple Recommendations

This one’s harder, because you want to include reasons but you want to make it easy to follow. I would make it sound like this:

To meet your goal of X, you should:

1. Do A because of B

2. Do C because of D

3. Do E because of F

And for next steps, do G and H.

Example of Conclusions with Multiple Recommendations

You should increase Profit by:

1. Increasing Prices, because customers aren’t price sensitive and your prices are lower than competitors.

2. Upgrade your manufacturing equipment because your manufacturing costs are higher than industry norms.

3. Sell More of Product X by opening up a website, because customers want to buy through an internet channel.

And for next steps, we can help you figure out if you should open up your own internet channel or if you should buy one (or whatever).

Conclusion

Your conclusions should be:

1. Action Oriented

2. Inductive, not deductive.

3. Concise, based on the easy to follow templates above.

Good luck!

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3 thoughts on “How to Conclude a Case

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