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2012/2013  KAN-CM_R72  Strategy problem solving in management consulting

English Title
Strategy problem solving in management consulting

Course information

Language English
Exam ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Autumn
Changes in course schedule may occur
Friday 13.30-16.05, week 36-45
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Associated Professor, Ph.D. Stig Hartmann in collaboration with partners and consultants from McKinsey
    Stig Hartmann - Department of Accounting and Auditing
Main Category of the Course
  • Statistics and mathematics
  • Corporate and Business Strategy
  • Economics, macro economics and managerial economics
Last updated on 27-04-2012
Learning objectives
The aim of the course is for the student to develop structured problem-solving skills and be able to apply these to various business contexts. Upon examination the top-grade student is able to:
  • Understand and explain the applied terms, models, processes and theories from the course
  • Apply the terms, models, processes and theories present within the course in order to identify and qualify relevant business problems and develop relevant solutions to these problems
  • Discuss and evaluate the possibilities and limitations of the applied terms, models, processes and theories and of the suggested solutions to the identified business problems
1. Passed introductionary courses in economics, finance, accounting, marketing, organisation, management and strategy.
2. Send in a 1 page application arguing why you want to participate and how you would contribution to the course through discussions and presentations and a 1 page CV and a 1 page transcript of previous grades from your graduate education. Send this to the following e-mail address: CMR72@cbs.dk no later than Tuesday the 15th of May 2012 at 10.00 o’clock.
Strategy problem solving in management consulting:
Type of test Oral with Written Assignment
Marking scale 7-step scale
Second examiner Second internal examiner
Exam period December/January
Aids Please, see the detailed regulations below
Duration 20 Minutes
S tudent must hand in a written mini-project of 15 pages written in groups of 2-4 students, based on a pre-defined case.
Individual 20 minutes oral exam based on written mini-project of 15 pages written in groups of 2-4 students, based on a pre-defined case
Course content

Content, structure, and teaching:
The student taking this course will explore how to solve problems that are high on the management agenda. To do this, students will be working with real-life cases, including real McKinsey consulting engagements.

The course aims at helping the student develop structured, analytical problem-solving skills, applied to different business contexts. Also, the student will train such core skills as presentation and group work, while applying both practical and theoretical frameworks to the problem.
The course content is structured around three main pillars of content:

  1. Methods, tools and skills from the consulting toolbox. This includes an introduction to structured problem solving tools, from defining the problem to making recommendations, e.g., by use of issue trees and hypothesis-driven problem solving, as well as training in core consulting skills, such as interview techniques, feedback, and work planning
  2. Theoretical and functional deep-dives within the field of strategy. First, the course draws upon the resource-based view of strategy focusing on dynamic capabilities within a corporation and how management consulting companies add value through capability building. Through a strategic lens, the course will explore how corporations add value to shareholders, and how this can be broken down using the structured problem solving approach from the consulting toolbox. Having established this overview, the course deep dives into different modules on how strategies can create value. We discuss the notion of maximizing returns on investments as well as management decision processes in terms of short and long term value creation trade-offs. Then, the course dives into the concept of granularity of growth and how growth can be decomposed in order to solve corporations’ strategic challenges. The course links back to the resource based view of the corporation in order to examine the concept of creating and sustaining competitive advantage, and how companies can create strategies that enable them to do so. Reflecting upon interdependencies between strategy and performance, the course will discuss the Structure, Conduct and Performance framework. Finally, the course will provide a perspective on which trends and forces will impact future business and the how to solve strategic problems going forward. In connection to the utilization of the above models and concepts we will identify and discuss underlying economic theories and assumptions, including neoclassical theory, game theory, resource based theory, transaction cost theory, behavioral theory etc.   
  3. Cases, exemplifying the above theoretical content, including real-life McKinsey consulting engagements

The learnings from the course content are broadly applicable across multiple business functions and industries. Hence the learnings apply both to:

  1. Students who are interested in consulting and how to serve and help their clients on their strategic challenges 
  2. Students, not particularly interested in consulting, who want to acquire skills and learnings that enable them to best tackle strategic challenges for their future employer or within their own entrepreneurial business

The course’s development of personal competences:
The student taking this course will:

  1. Develop structured problem solving skills, and how to apply these to various real-life business cases
  2. Develop analytical skills across multiple functional and industry-areas
  3. Learn to navigate among core frameworks, especially within strategy, and choose when these are suitable for different problems and across industries
  4. Improve the skills to synthesize analysis into crisp recommendations
  5. Learn communication, presentation and influencing skills that are key to delivering impactful recommendations
  6. Learn how to engage in teamwork as well as client team setting

Teaching methods
Overview and dialogue lectures, guest speakers, case assignments, group work, student presentations, plenary discussions and summeries of the lesson

1 . McKinsey consultants and experts, including
- Martin Jermiin, Head of Organization Practice Scandinavia,
- Michael Halbye, Head of McKinsey EMEA,
- Thomas Schmidt, Head of McKinsey Copenhagen
2. Guest speakers
3. Stig Hartmann
Further Information

The course is limited to 60 students because of the applied pedagogical form and the exam format.


Expected literature

(Indicative; pending final course plan and lecturers)

Selected chapters from books (~550 pages):

  1. Koller, T., Goedhart, M., Wessels, D., 2010. Valuation
  2. Viguerie, P., Smit, S., Baghai, M., 2007. Granularity of Growth
  3. Keller and Price, Beyond Performance, 2010,  Chapters: 1-4
  4. Minto, B., 2007. The Pyramid principle – Logic in writing and thinking
  5. Johnson, G., Scholes, K., Whittington, R., 2010. Exploring Strategy, Text only. 9th edition, Chapter 2+3
  6. Greiner, L. E., Poulfelt, F., 2009. Management Consulting Today and Tomorrow
  7. Mckenna, Christopher D. 2010, The world’s newest profession: Management consulting in the twentieth century
  8. Mahoney, J.T., 2005. Economic Foundations of Strategy,
  9. Barcam, M., 2003. Economic Foundations of Strategic Management

Articles (~350 pages):

  1. McKinsey Quarterly and other materials published by McKinsey
    • McKinsey Quarterly, 2011 Number 3, “How we see it: Three senior executives on the future of marketing”
    • McKinsey Quarterly, 2011 Number 3, “We’re all marketers now”
    • McKinsey Quarterly, 2011, “10 tests: How do we do it: Strategic tests from four senior executives”.
    • McKinsey, Special Report 2010: What happens next? - Five crucibles of innovation that will shape the coming decade
    • McKinsey, Recall No. 5: Channel Management (External Brochure), 2008, ID: 738393
    • Mckinsey, Recall No. 4: Customer Life-Cycle Management (External brochure), 2008, ID: 736273
  2. Harvard Business Review
    • Kim, W. C., Mauborgne, R. A. 2004. BlueOceanStrategy. Harvard Business Review
    • Christensen, C. M., Johnson, M. W., Kagermann, H., 2008. Reinventing Your Business Model. Harvard Business Review
    • Alexander,  M. & Campbell,  A.: What's Wrong with Strategy?, Harvard Business Review. Nov. 1997
    • Martin, K. L., Neilson, G. L., Powers, E., 2008. The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution. Harvard Business Review
    • Kim C. W., Mauborgne, R., 2009. How Strategy Shapes Structure. Harvard Business Review
    • Hamel, G., Prahalad, C. K., 1990. Core Competence of the Corporation. Harvard Business Review
  3. Journal of Strategic Management
    • Wernerfelt, B., 1984. A resource-based view of the firm. Strategic Management Journal
    • Eisenhardt, K. M., Jeffrey A. Martin, J. A., 2000. Dynamic capabilities: what are they? Strategic Management Journal
    • Margaret A. Peteraf, M. A., 1993. The cornerstones of competitive advantage: A resource-based view. Strategic Management Journal
    • David J. Teece, Gary Pisano, Amy Shuen, 1998. Dynamic capabilities and strategic management. Strategic Management Journal

Cases (~200 pages)

  1. Cases prepared by McKinsey, based on real McKinsey engagements
  2. Harvard Business cases
Last updated on 27-04-2012