Answers self-assessment

1. Which of the following statements is FALSE?
  • The first step in the consulting methodology is to have a look at the project brief and make sure the problem is well defined.
  • There can be multiple issue trees, depending on the angle you use.
  • After the analyses, every project should end with a conceive summary of the key-takeaways and facts.

Do not end with a summary of the key-takeaways, rather try to give the client a synthesize of your findings and conclusions.

2. Which of the following problem definitions is not “SMART”?
  • How can we bring together 100 conscious youths at a free summer camp next July and motivate them to join our group of volunteers?
  • How can we achieve a 15% increase in commercial sales by increasing our brand awareness within the next six months?
  • How can we achieve higher donations from private companies at our next fundraising event in August?

To make your goal S.M.A.R.T., it needs to conform to the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. The third problem definition lacks a bit of specific precision, although “higher” is easily measurable, it is better to indicate the aimed increase in percent or money.

3. Which is a MECE way to structure?

The local zoo has 13 animals:

  • Two tigers
  • A male and a female elephant
  • A baby zebra and its parents
  • Three birds
  • A lion
  • A monkey and its mother

Which is a MECE way to structure the animals?

  • Gender: male – female
  • Gender: male – female – unknown
  • Number of animals per specie: one – two – three
  • Specie: tigers – others

The MECE principle, is a grouping principle for separating a set of items into subsets that are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. Mutually exclusive means that one item cannot belong to two subgroups, while collectively exhaustive implies that all items are part of a subgroup.

a) wrong, male – female is ME, but not CE: The animals whose gender is unknown cannot be included properly. However, if all genders were known,the structure would have been MECE

b) wrong, male – female – unknown is CE, but not ME: The animals in the unknown category are all either male or female, so they technically belong into one of the other categories, too.

c) correct, a separation depending in the number of animals per specei is ME because a group of animals has only one number of memberse structure is CE because the animal groups have either one, two or three memebers and nothing else.

d) correct, a categorization into tigers and other animals covers all types of animals and is also ME.

4. What does the 80/20 rule actually mean?
  • The 80/20 rule refers to the fact that a consultant should allocate at least 80% of his time to understanding the problem and only allocate 20% to conducting the analysis itself.
  • By applying the 80/20 rule, a consultant should focus his effort on a few promising issues (20%) because they will most likely have the strongest impact (80%) on the problem.
  • When interviewing a client, the 80/20 rule implies that to increase effectiveness of the interview, 80% of the time the client should be talking, whereas only 20% of the time the consultant should take the word.

With the 80/20 rule (20% of the time gives you 80% of the benefit), you want to identify which 20% of the issues are most important in solving the root cause.

5. Machocoscar Inc., Chocolate bar manufacturing

Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Southeast Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar (the fourth-largest island in the world), and numerous smaller peripheral islands. In 2012, the population of Madagascar was  estimated at just over 22 million. As of 2014, the economy of Madagascar had been weakened by the then recently concluded political crisis, and quality of life remains low for the majority of the Malagasy population.

Two entrepreneurs have just launched a non-profit chocolate bar manufacturing company called Machocoscar Inc. The goal of Machocoscar is to improve conditions for people in Madagascar by selling chocolate bars to consumers in the United States. 180 Degrees Consulting is working with Machocoscar on a pro bono basis to determine how to market the chocolate bars in the United States.

Which problem definition is most suitable?

  • How can we achieve a total sales in the USA of our chocolate bars for a total sum of $250,000 within 1 year?
  • What is the minimum selling price in the USA for one chocolate bar in order to provide our employees a minimum wage of 5$ per hour, and is this price feasible?
  • How should we position ourselves as a premium brand of chocolate bars in the USA based on price and marketing?

Remember, problem definition should be SMART.

a) wrong, this problem definition is not very relevant as you want to increase conditions for the people in Madagascar, rather than increasing your sales number.

b) correct

c) wrong, problem definition lacks a time horizon but is also not very relevant for the goal of Machocoscar.

6. Bebread Nonprofit
Bebread Nonprofit Organizations is a European based organizations focusing on educating people about the risks of unhealthy food and raise awareness about healthy cooking. Each year, they organize a weekend for interested with several workshops and sessions related to healthy nutrition. This is the perfect moment for the organizations to fulfill the social mission, but also to get in contact with potential future donors and volunteers.

Bebread asks for the help of 180 Degrees Consulting. They are facing decreasing subscriptions for the yearly health-weekend year after year, currently they have only 500 subscriptions so far. They feel like they don’t reach their target audience anymore. Together with the client you already pinned down several issues, together with the potential increase in participants (a rating from 1 to 9), the implementation cost, and potential savings or additional income.

There are several things you and your team come up with, with an estimation of the expected increase in participants and the implementation cost.

Project name
Expected increase in participants
Implementation cost
Set up a social media marketing campaign
$ 300
Decrease subscription fee by $5
$ 500
Change the content that is provided during the weekend
$ 150
Revising the target population
$ 800
Change the concept from weekend to day-to-day subscriptions
$ 100

What should be the first priority of the team, given a budget of $ 700?

  • Social media marketing campaign
  • Decrease subscription fee
  • Change the content
  • Revise target population
  • Change the concept to day-to-day subscription

Change the concept to day-to-day subscription is the cheapest solution to attract new participants. After calculating, you can conclude that it only costs $1 to attract one new participant. The other options are respectively, $2 (social media campaign), $5 (decrease subscription fee), $3 (change the content), and $4 (revising target population).

7. Voluntas and Divine case
Case study 1

John is the Managing Director of a medium-size charity, Voluntas, that relies mostly on volunteers. He would like to attract more volunteers, and asks a consultant to develop a new marketing campaign for that purpose. The consultant does an excellent job and designs a successful marketing campaign that immediately boosts the number of enquiries received by the charity. However, on the long-term, John notices that the number of volunteers stagnates. When analyzing the situation further, the consultant realizes that volunteers are often poorly inducted into the organisation and rarely retained on the long-term. The problem was actually due to poor operations rather than a lack of marketing.

Case study 2

Helena is the CEO of a not-for-profit organization, Divine, that is mostly funded by government grants. She would like to attract social investors to diversify her sources of funding. She asks a consultant to identify high net worth individuals and funds likely to invest in her organisation. The consultant identifies a long list of potential investors, but they are reluctant to contribute their capital to Helena’s organisation since there is little evidence that it is producing a positive impact. The consultant realizes that Helena should rather focus on measuring her organisation’s impact before seeking social investors.

What do these situations have in common and how could they have been avoided?

  • The consultant focused on the wrong part of the issue tree, he should have done a better job in prioritizing the issues and identifying other more relevant parts.
  • The consultant did not perform an in-depth analysis, necessary for the reliability of his conclusions.
  • The consultant spent too much time on conducting the analysis, he could have delivered the output of this project by effectively spending much more time on a decent work plan.
  • The consultant accepted too fast the problem definition from the client, he could have increased the value of this project by revising the problem definition and touching upon the underlying, real problem.

The consultant quickly jumped to conclusions instead of fully devoting his time to understanding the client better. Sometimes, a client has a certain solution for a problem in his mind, and is expecting you as consultant to deliver him that solution. But as the two examples show, the client can be wrong and it might be valuable to not accept a problem definition from a client immediately. When you devote enough time to the problem definition, the root cause of the problem might come to surface.

8. The American Red Cross
Your client The American Red Cross (ARC) is a humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education both inside the United States and internationally. It is the designated US affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The two major services they offer are Disaster Relief and Child Sponsorship.

As a large non-governmental organization (NGO), the American Red Cross has operations in more than 100 countries. The ARC has been involved with many international projects, such as the Measles Initiative, malaria programs in Africa, disaster responses worldwide, and relief efforts in response to the 2004 South Asia Tsunami.

The ARC leadership feels that the “end results” are not meeting the set objectives. Specifically, (1) they are not able to raise enough funds to meet their targets, and (2) they are not able to utilize the funds they have effectively.

Which issue tree do you think most suits the problem?

The second issue tree gives the best solution. This issue tree breaks the problem down in two main components: (1) not enough funds, and (2) not able to utilize the funds effectively. This breakdown allows the consultant to work around the two topics both in cost-decreasing as a income-increasing perspective. This feels more logic compared to just breaking the problem into an expense side and a income side as in the first issue tree. Finally, the last issue tree tries to tackle the problem by focusing on the objective. Given you did a thorough job in the problem definition, questioning the objectives of the organization is not fit anymore in this stage of your consulting project, you should clearly focus on the end results.