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Cracked It!

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Cracked It!

How to Solve Big Problems and Sell Solutions Like Top Strategy Consultants

Palgrave Macmillan,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Learn the method top global consultants use to grasp, structure and solve complex business problems.

Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples


Strategy experts Bernard Garrette, Corey Phelps and Olivier Sibony demystify the approach to problem-solving that business consultants use at esteemed global management firms such as McKinsey and Bain. Replete with proven frameworks, sophisticated insider advice and engaging and relevant case studies, this methodical, erudite treatise explains how to analyze complex problems and develop potential solutions. Once you’ve “cracked it,” you’ll know how to close the problem-solving loop and sell your vetted solution to decision-makers.


Addressing complex business challenges requires a disciplined problem-solving method.

In July 2004, Kevin Rollins, Dell COO and former Bain & Company VP, became Dell’s new CEO. At the time, Dell was earning sky-high profits, and the future looked rosy. Alas, by 2007 the company’s revenue growth and market share had dropped precipitously, and HP soon usurped Dell as the world’s largest computer producer. To make matters worse, Dell laptop batteries were exploding and catching fire, provoking a massive product recall.

One might be quick to label Rollins a lousy CEO, engaging in what psychologist Daniel Kahneman calls System 1 thinking, or fast thinking. This default problem-solving approach relies on instinct and subconscious connections. System 2 thinking, on the other hand, is slow, thorough, deliberate and considered. In the example of Dell’s decline, a System 2 thinker would research the situation and learn that Dell’s stock price, although declining, remained above its competitors. Slow thinkers would also discover that Sony – not Dell – had produced the faulty batteries, HP had made a major acquisition during this time, and the industry was undergoing...

About the Authors

Bernard Garrette, a former strategy expert at McKinsey, is a professor of strategy at HEC Paris. Corey Phelps teaches strategy at McGill University. Olivier Sibony, a former senior partner at McKinsey, is a professor of strategy at HEC Paris.

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