J420 – Advanced Case Analysis and Effective Consulting Presentations
J420 – Advanced Case Analysis and Effective Consulting Presentations
A. COURSE OBJECTIVES
This course is designed to help you develop and sharpen the skills which are the primary building blocks
of a successful career in consulting (as well as many other areas of business), namely (1) analysis, (2)
presentation, and (3) teamwork. This class will help you to develop rigorous skills in each of these areas
through (i) discussion of the principles underlying best practices and (ii) application and feedback in a
series of exercises and cases.
This course is not designed to teach you the substantive tools of strategy, marketing, operations, finance,
or any other business discipline. Instead, we will build upon the skills, tools and frameworks that you
have learned (or are learning) in your other business classes.
B. CLASS TIMES & LOCATIONS
a. Regularly scheduled time: Friday, 1:00-3:30 p.m. in BU202
b. Case presentations: In order to ensure that all students have meaningful opportunities to
participate in their teams’ case presentations, the classes on October 3rd, 17th and 24th will run
1:00-5:30 p.m. While the class will run for 4½ hours on those days (and I will be present for the
entire time), each team need be present only for its presentation (~25 minutes).
C. CONTACT INFORMATION FOR PROFESSOR RUBIN
Telephone: (812) 856-5244
E-Mail: [email protected]
Office Hours: Monday, 2:30-4:30 p.m. or by appointment
1. Book: GENE ZELAZNY, SAY IT WITH CHARTS (4th ed. 2001)
2. Supplementary readings available in Oncourse (under “Resources”) or on e-reserve:
a. GENE ZELAZNY, SAY IT WITH PRESENTATIONS 42-55 (2006) (“Determine Your Message,”
“Craft the Story Line,” “Write the Introduction”)
b. BARBARA MINTO, THE PYRAMID PRINCIPLE 5-17 (1995) (Chapter 1: “Why a Pyramid
c. Barbara Minto, Think Your Way to Clear Writing, J. OF MGMT. CONSULTING, May 1998, at
d. Barbara Minto, Think Your Way to Clear Writing (Part Two), J. OF MGMT. CONSULTING,
Nov. 1998, at 45-53
e. Jon R. Katzenbach & Douglas K. Smith, The Discipline of Teams, HARV. BUS. REV., July-
Aug. 2005, at 162-171
f. Mark D. Cannon & Robert Witherspoon, Actionable Feedback: Unlocking the Power of
Learning and Performance Improvement, 19 ACAD. OF MGMT. EXEC. 120 (2005)
g. JOYCE S. OSLAND, ET AL., ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR: AN EXPERIENTIAL APPROACH 396-
97 (7th ed. 2001)
h. J. Mitchell Perry, Dealing With Difficult People in Business, MANAGE, Jan.-Feb. 2002, at 18-
3. Cases: You will analyze four cases during the course. The first, third and fourth cases
(Starbucks, Natureview Farm and Dollar General (A)) are available in a ClassPak in the
bookstore. The second case (Cyberspeed) will be available beginning on September 26th via a
link in OnCourse (under “Resources”).
4. [Optional] Background reading: I have placed a copy of The Pyramid Principle, along with
leading books on strategy, marketing, and finance on reserve in the Business/SPEA library. I also
have posted links in Oncourse (under “Resources”) to several classic strategy articles.
E. COURSE OVERVIEW AND GRADING
This course is based upon active learning. We will spend the first three class sessions developing the
building blocks for case analysis, presentation, and teamwork through lectures, discussions, and a series
of in-class and out-of-class exercises. We will spend four of the next five classes refining your skills and
gaining experience using them through a series of cases. We will use the remaining class, which will be
between the first two and the last two cases, to crystallize what you have learned in the first two cases,
and to revisit and to clarify / expand upon issues that have arisen while working on those cases.
This course consists of just 8 sessions. Thus, each is important. In order to develop and refine the skills
that you will need to analyze and present cases, I expect you (a) to attend each class, (b) to prepare for
each class by reading and thinking about the assigned materials and completing the exercises, and (c) to
contribute materially to your teams’ preparation and presentations of the cases.
The grading scale will be based on a total of 270 points for the semester, broken down as follows.
10 Introductory exercise
10 Exercise #2
20 Exercise #3
50 Case #1 – Case exercise (30 pts – team slides/
analysis; 20 pts - peer evaluation)
60 Case #2 (40 pts - team presentation/analysis; 20 pts
- peer evaluation)
60 Case #3 (40 pts - team presentation/analysis; 20 pts
- peer evaluation)
60 Case #4 (40 pts - team presentation/analysis; 20 pts
- peer evaluation)
One week prior to the first class session, I e-mailed to each student an introductory exercise. The purpose
of that exercise is to give students a taste of what lies ahead in this course and to establish a baseline.
Since we have not yet studied the substantive areas of the course, I do not expect the slides submitted to
reflect any specific level of skill. Accordingly, I will grade the introductory exercise primarily based on
my subjective assessment of the effort reflected in the slides submitted.
In addition to the introductory exercise, you also will have exercises to complete prior to the second and
third classes. Exercise #2 is designed to familiarize you with data sources available at IU. Exercise #3 is
designed to give you practical experience, before we get to the cases, applying the analytical and
presentation concepts that we will be studying.
J420 Syllabus, 2 of 5
Once you have assembled the building blocks, you will have an opportunity to apply the skills learned
and thereby gain experience in one case exercise and three case presentations.
Students will work in teams of four or five on the cases. I will assign students to teams with the goal of
bringing together diverse skills and backgrounds, thereby enabling students to draw on and learn from
each other’s strengths. Each student will be a member of two teams during the semester, one for the case
exercise and the first case presentation, and the other for the second and third case presentations.
For each case, you will be given a factual scenario (including relevant data) and asked to analyze the
issue(s) presented in the case and to prepare a presentation with your conclusions and recommendations.
For the case exercise, you will hand in your written presentation (i.e., your slides) and we will work the
case together as a class. For the three case presentations, each team will present its analysis and
recommendations to me.
For each of the cases, you will receive both a team grade and an individual grade. For the case exercise,
the team grade will be based on your team’s analysis and slides. For the case presentations, it will be
based on analysis, slides and presentation. Each participating member of the team will receive the same
The individual grade will be based on peer evaluation. Each member of the team will evaluate each of the
others based on two criteria: (a) his or her contribution to the team’s analysis and presentation, and (b) his
or her teamwork. Your individual grade for each case will be the average of your teammates’ evaluations
of you (unless the following sentence applies to you). Failure to turn in your evaluations of each of
your teammates by 4:30 p.m. on the Monday following a case will result in you receiving a grade of
zero for the peer evaluation for that case.
3. Feedback sessions
Psychological research has shown that we have systematic shortcomings when it comes to assessing our
own performance. That is one reason why the perspectives of others – feedback – is so valuable. Well-
crafted feedback helps us to improve our understanding of our current performance and to develop
improvement strategies going forward.
I believe that feedback is a crucial step in developing and reinforcing the analytical, presentation, and
teamwork skills that are the goals of this course. Thus, I encourage teammates to give each other well
thought out and detailed feedback after each of the cases. To emphasize the importance that I place on it,
we will spend class time on October 10th (i) discussing the principles underlying effective feedback and
(ii) giving teammates feedback on the case exercise and case presentation #1.
In addition to feedback from teammates, I will provide detailed feedback following the first two cases and
the final two cases. Specifically, I will meet with each team (or as many members of the team who
choose to participate) for approximately 30 minutes during the weeks following the second and fourth
cases. Those sessions are optional, but highly recommended.
4. Grading scale
Your course grade will be based on the sum of your scores on the exercises and cases according to the
Percentage of Total
Semester maximum number of
grade possible points points
A 90% + 243 +
B 80-89.9% 216-242.5
C 70-79.9% 189-215.5
D 60-69.9% 162-188.5
F Below 60% Below 162
J420 Syllabus, 3 of 5
I may add pluses and/or minuses to grades on the margins. I will make a decision whether or not to do so,
and if I do so what grades would qualify for a “+” or a “-,” only at the end of the semester after I have an
opportunity to look at the distribution of student point totals.
I reserve the right to depart from the above scale if I find doing so to be desirable to achieve an
appropriate class grade distribution. Any such departure would relax the grading scale, not make it more
difficult. (In other words, it only could help you.)
F. CLASS SCHEDULE
Date Topic / Activity Preparation
Sep. 5F Class meeting: Analyzing a case Introductory exercise (due at noon)
12 F Class meeting: Analyzing a case Exercise #2: Finding data
(cont’d); Telling the story Preparation:
• Zelazny, Say it with Presentations (pp. 42-
• Minto, The Pyramid Principle (pp. 5-17)
• Minto, Clear Writing
• Minto, Clear Writing (Part Two)
19 F Class meeting: Telling the story Exercise #3: Analysis and telling a story
(cont’d); Teamwork Preparation:
• Zelazny, Say it with Charts (read pp. 1-
128, 195-219; skim 129-191)
• Katzenbach, Discipline of Teams
26 F Class meeting: Case exercise Preparation:
• Case: Starbucks
Oct. 3F Case #2 * Preparation:
• Case: CyberSpeed Technologies
7T RECOMMENDED: Detailed
8W feedback session (by team)
10 F Class meeting: Giving and Preparation:
receiving feedback; Review of • Cannon, Actionable Feedback
issues raised in first two cases; • Osland, Organizational Behavior (pp. 396-
Advance Powerpoint tips for 97)
consulting presentations (time • Perry, Dealing With Difficult People in
17 F Case #3 Preparation:
• Case: Natureview Farm
24 F Case #4 Preparation:
• Case: Dollar General (A)
30 Th RECOMMENDED: Detailed
31 F feedback session (by team)
G. POLICY ON ACADEMIC DISHONESTY (I’m against it!!)
Students are subject to the provisions of the Kelley School of Business Student Honor Code, the Indiana
University Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct (which can be found at
On October 3rd, Accenture will be sponsoring a case competition for MSIS students and undergrads interested in
IT consulting. If you would like to participate in that competition in place of case #2, you must inform me on or
before September 12th.
J420 Syllabus, 4 of 5
http://www.dsa.indiana.edu/Code/index1.html), and all School and University rules and regulations
regarding academic conduct / misconduct. Any student involved in an incident of academic misconduct
in connection with this course will be removed from the course with a grade of "F" (although I reserve the
right to impose an alternative penalty in those rare circumstances in which, in my opinion, the situation so
Note: The exercises must be completed either individually or with one classmate. (In other words, no
more than two people may work together on an exercise.) All cases must be completed in the teams
assigned. You may not work with or accept assistance from anyone other than the one classmate with
whom you submit your exercise (for the exercises) or your teammates (for the cases). Each deliverable
must contain a title slide / cover page which identifies the student(s) who prepared the deliverable. By
submitting a deliverable with your name on the title slide / cover page, you warrant to me that the
deliverable was prepared solely by the student(s) named and, if more than one student is named, that
each made a material contribution to the deliverable.
H. ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
1. Students with disabilities
Any student with a disability requiring reasonable accommodation must inform me by e-mail within the
first two weeks of class. You also must provide to me a completed copy of the “Testing/Classroom
Modifications” form from the Office of Disability Services for Students with enough lead time for me to
provide the specified accommodation(s).
2. Religious holidays
Any student who cannot participate fully in any aspect of the class due to a religious conflict must inform
me by e-mail within the first two weeks of class so that we can make alternative arrangements. If you
cannot hand in any deliverable on its due date due to a religious conflict, it is your obligation to plan
ahead and either submit the item prior to the due date or make alternative arrangements with me.
3. Missed cases
I encourage students to make every effort to participate in their teams’ case presentations. The failure to
do so not only deprives you of a learning opportunity, but also may prejudice your teammates.
Nevertheless, I recognize that there are rare situations in which missing a presentation is unavoidable. In
such a situation, I will meet with the student and we will decide either (a) that the student will receive the
team grade for the analysis and slides (this option is available only if the student materially contributed to
the team’s analysis and written presentation), or (b) that the student individually will analyze, and prepare
and present slides on, an alternative case. For option (a) above, the student will be eligible for only 30 out
of the 40 points for team presentation / analysis that will be available to the rest of his or her team. The
alternative case option – option (b) – will be allowed only with permission secured from me prior to the
date of the case presentation (unless impossible or impractical given the circumstances). Permission will
be granted only in exceptional circumstances (e.g., hospitalization, death of a family member,
incarceration) or where required by University policy (e.g., religious conflict).
J420 Syllabus, 5 of 5
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