English   Danish

2013/2014  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 13.30-17.00, week 37-41, 43-44
Friday 13.30-17.55, week 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 (AA)
Main academic disciplines
  • Finance
  • Corporate and Business Strategy
  • Economics, macro economics and managerial economics
Last updated on 20-03-2013
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
Course prerequisites
1. Passed introductory courses in economics, finance, accounting, marketing, organization, management and strategy.
2. Send in a ½ - 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 the grades from your bachelor education incl. GPA. Send this to the following e-mail address: CMR72@cbs.dk no later than Tuesday the 14th of May 2013 at 10.00 o’clock.
Strategy problem solving in management consulting:
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Individual
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
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
Assignment type Project
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period December/January
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure

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. The course will explore how value generation can be broken down using a structured problem solving approach and practical strategic frameworks from the consulting toolbox. First, the course draws upon the Structure-Conduct-Performance framework in providing understanding of how organizations interact with the external environment. Hereafter the course introduces the notion of how organizations generate and pursue value for their shareholders. Founded in the value generation logic the course henceforth deepdives into select areas of value generation. We discuss how companies can manage turning around their business after years of underperformance. We review the concept of granularity of growth and how growth can be decomposed in order to solve corporations’ strategic challenges. Hereafter we turn the focus to the corporation itself and how the internal capabilities and functioning of the corporation influences the ability to generate competitive advantage. Lastly, we combine all elements in the creation of corporate strategies and discuss how to successfully manage portfolio of strategies.The theories, frameworks and logics presented during the course are founded in a variety of underlying economic and behavioral theories such as the resource based view, dynamic capabilities, DCF, transaction costs and game theory. 
  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
Teaching methods
Overview and dialogue lectures, guest speakers, case assignments, group work, student presentations, plenary discussions and summaries of the lesson

1 . McKinsey consultants and experts, including
- Martin Jermiin, Head of Organization Practice Scandinavia,
- Martin Møller, Head of Pharmaceutical Practice Europe
- Johannes Lüneborg, Head of Sustainability and Resource Productivity, EMEA
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 (~450 pages):

  • Baghai, M., Smit, S. and Viguerie, P., (2010), The Granularity of Growth, Marshall Cavendish, paperback
  • Keller, S., and Price, C., (2011) Beyond Performance, McKinsey & Company
  • Koller, Goedhart & Wessels (2010), Valuation, 5th Edition, Wiley & Sons,
  • Minto, B (2009), The Pyramid Principle, Prentice Hall
  • Slatter, S., Lovett, D., and Barlow, L., (2006) Leading Corporate Turnaround, Jossey Bass

 Articles (~130 pages) :
McKinsey Quarterly and other materials published by McKinsey 

  • Benson-Armer, R., et al. (2004) Putting value back in value based management, McKinsey Quarterly
  • Bisson, P., et al. (2010) What happens next? - Five crucibles of innovation that will shape the coming decade, McKinsey & Co. Special Report
  • Bradley, C., Hirt, M. and Smit, S., (2011), Have you Tested your Strategy lately?, McKinsey Quarterly
  • Gilmartin, R., Elton, J., Lumsden, G. and Speiser, D., (2011) How We Do It: Strategic Tests from Four Senior Executives, McKinsey Quarterly
  • Gluck, F., et al. (2000), Thinking Strategically, McKinsey Quarterly, June
  • Hsieh, T. and Yik, S., (2005), Leadership as the starting point for strategy, McKinsey Quarterly
  • Koller, T. and Jiang, B. (2007), How to choose between growth and ROIC  McKinsey Quarterly

Harvard Business Review 

  • Campbell, A and Alexander, M., (1997), What's Wrong with Strategy?, Harvard Business Review
  • Christensen, C.M., Johnson, M.W., Kagermann, H. (2008) Reinventing your business model, Harvard Business Review
    Joan, M.: “Why Business Models Matter”, Harvard Business Review, May 2002, Vol. 80, Issue 5, p.86-92
  • Hamel, G. and Prahalad, C.K., (1990), The Core Competence of the Corporation, Harvard Business Review
  • Kim, W.C, and Mauborgne, R.A (2009), How Strategy Shapes Structure, Harvard Business Review, September, pp. 12
  • Kim, W.C,  and Mauborgne, R.A (2004) Blue ocean strategy, Harvard Business Review, pp.8
  • Martin, K. L., Neilson, G. L., Powers, E., 2008. The Secrets to Successful Strategy Execution. HarvardBusiness Review
  • Porter, M.E.: “The Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy”, Harvard Business Review, January 2008, p78 – 93.
  • Poter, M.E.: What is Strategy? , 21 pages, Harvard Business Review, 1996


  • Teece, D.J.: “Business Models, Business Strategy and Innovation”, Long Range Planning, April 2010, Vol. 43 Issue 2/3, p172-194
  • Parnell, J.: “Generic strategies after two decades: a reconceptualization of competitive strategy”;
    Management Decision, 2006, Vol. 44 Issue 8, p1139-1154
  • Barney, J.B.: “The Future of Resoure-Based Theory: Revitalization or Decline?”, Journal of Management, August 2011
  • McKenna, C., (1995) The Origin of Modern Management consulting, Business and Economic History, no. 1 , http://www.thebhc.org/publications/BEHprint/toc24a1995.html
Last updated on 20-03-2013