July 29, 2015

Why Are Business Cases So Engaging?

Everyone loves business cases. Our clients tell that, and course statistics confirms it. Just 10 minutes – and you’ve got a competence in the bag. How to write a business letter or conduct price negotiations? How should you fire an employee? Read the article and learn about the advantages of the case method.

Elena Masolova

Why looking for a new method?

What is the main task for online courses? It’s to give the employee competencies and knowledge that they can immediately put into practice. Most courses only do the first bit, giving information. But that isn’t eLearning.

Another issue is poor engagement with the course material. Too much information, boring formats, a lack of time or just employees’ laziness mean that the course is just thrown away and people barely make it halfway through. But those rare persons who get through the course to the end a) don’t recall anything after a couple of days and b) don’t know what to do with this information or how to apply it to real life.

We decided to leave aside these boring and actually useless “eReading”, “eListening” and “eWatching” towards actual eLearning. But how?

The case method: from knowledge to competencies

Most of Eduson’s courses start with the word “how”. “How to Dismiss an Employee”, “How to Sell Over Phone”, or “How to Make Cold Calls”. Their aim is not to give abstract knowledge, but to prepare instructions for use in different situations. The case method is a problem solving teaching method. You put a problem/task in front of the employee that they need to solve it, reacting to different situations. At the end, the employee receives a ready-to-use pattern of actions that they have already used in practice. And so, within 10-20 minutes they will have mastered a specific competency.

The case must be built around a story. A story is guaranteed to raise engagement with the course. Having a lot of issues and plot twists will lead the user to try and solve those problems. The employee will feel like a movie hero, and it will engage him better than a Hollywood blockbuster.

Let’s take the business case entitled “How to conduct a meeting”. There’s a real plot here: the client goes to a jewellery store, there are “voluminous” characters, such as the doubtful customers or the demanding boss, and there’s a clear aim - to make this contact lead to a sale. To achieve this aim, the employee must find the correct dialogue tactics by trial and error for working with the client, and make a sale on the jewellery. Money in the till, the client is happy, the boss is satisfied, final curtain and happy ending.

So the knowledge is not only assimilated, it will be applied in practice. The employee has already received some good experience and in the future a situation like this will not be stressful for him.

Why do they take business cases to the end?

We have created a combination of several effective ways of teaching and memorizing. Even if some of these don’t work for certain people, then the others may do.

1. Problem solving teaching method

The cases only deal with real life problems that companies encounter. The employee will understand how and when they will need to apply the knowledge they have received: Investment decisions on buying a company, resolving a conflict with an aggressive but high-performing employee, effective ways to hold a meeting, etc.

2. Associated links

Memorising information from a case is based on the associated link method. Information is given in a bundle with a specific object, situation or action. The general story that runs throughout the whole case forms a whole chain of associations. People can recall it a lot more easily than abstract paragraphs from a textbook or video lecture.

3. Active Learning

This is a way of engaging people that doesn’t let the user passively consume information. It constantly forces you to carry out an action, answer a question or just click the mouse. Users actively influence the development of events in the business case, and they will feel responsible for the success or failure of their characters and their company.

4. Analysis/Synthesis

Solving tasks requires 3 stages:

  • Put a problem in front of your employees that they need to break down into smaller parts (deduction).
  • The problem needs to be looked at from a few different sides (analysis).
  • At the end of the case, the employee should come to a general conclusion from the detailed parts (induction).

This is how you solve two tasks immediately:

  1. The employee will learn how to distinguish important information on global problems and come to a particular decision.
  2. The employee will learn to generalize data from various sources.

As a result, the employee will learn how to apply particular methods of solving business problems and will competently and consistently solve any task.

5. Anchors for memorizing.

At the end of each section of the case the main findings are summarized (but only after the employees have reached the correct answer by themselves). Aside from classical tables and graphs, the decision is accompanied by bright pictures, pictograms and the maximum amount of visualization.

At the end of the case, users receive analogue mnemonic cards, where the information is easier to look over.

I suggest that everyone now checks the efficiency of the case method for themselves. Look at the 15 minute free business case “How to conduct a meeting”, as this knowledge should be useful for everyone. What do you think about it?

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