Stories, Strategy and Compatibility
As we entered the final year in our program at the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF), my team and I knew the SAF Strategy Case Competition would be the last competition of our undergraduate career. Over the years, individually, my teammates had the opportunity to place in over 14 case competitions globally, nationally, and provincially. We are in no way saying that we were the '98 Chicago Bulls of case competitions (because we were not even close), but we knew this would be the last competition after a fun ride, and we decided to do it at our home, the University of Waterloo.
Based on feedback we received from the judges and peers, three areas contributed to our win in the SAF Strategy Case Competition. We have outlined the areas below:
Facts tell but stories sell
The art of storytelling to convey a message has been used throughout generations, but some case competition participants grossly overlook this communication style. Religious books such as the Bible and Quran are full of parables (short stories). In school, some of the biggest lessons that we are taught as children are delivered through stories, and lastly, some of the best public speakers are usually the best storytellers. This is because stories provoke emotion, and it is a great way to hook someone in before delivering your main message. Considering our case was regarding Peloton’s future growth strategy, we began the presentation with a story about how challenging it has been to work out consistently during COVID. This appealed to the emotional side of the audience members, and it was a great intro before delivering our proposed strategy.
Keep the strategy realistic and objective-driven
It is very easy to get too far into the weeds and stray away from the main objective during a case competition. However, we knew that Peloton's main challenge was growth post COVID…so we focused on addressing that. We thought realistically about what would make Peloton achieve its aggressive growth objective. We created a 3-prong approach that aligned with achieving their objective: Geographic expansion, partnering with gyms in North America, and incorporating VR capabilities by partnering with a company called Oculus (similar to what Mark Zuckerberg preached at a tech conference a week after our presentation).
Team compatibility is what differentiates
If one were to look at the Bulls '98 team, all of the key players complemented each other based on their style. The same goes for working in a team in a case competition. All four of us have very different strengths that we utilized throughout the preparation and delivery of our presentation. In addition, none of us were 'Yes Men' (yes, that's a Jim Carrey reference). When working with friends, it can be very easy to agree with what one person says to avoid conflict, but rarely does that produce the best results. Whenever we disagreed, we vocalized it and made sure that all our strategies and ideas aligned with achieving the objective of the case.
We hope current, and future SAF students use these tips for their future success.