The Ivey Case Writing Workshop

Last week, I got up at the blindingly early hour of 3:30am on a Sunday morning to head to the airport. Two flights later, I was in London, Ontario and headed to the Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre for a week-long workshop on case writing.

For someone trained in the Arts, the notion of business cases which focus specifically on decision-making is a bit of a foreign concept. And the idea of spending a week with a group of individuals with extensive training in business and experience in the case study method was a little intimidating. Nevertheless, I dressed for success on Monday morning and headed "back to school." (I joked the week before with colleagues about buying a new school bag and shoes, but the truth is I only picked up a new notebook…)

We received a quick introduction from the instructors — James Erskine and Michiel Leenders — on the philosophy behind the case study method for learning and their suggested approach for writing cases. Late in the morning we were each given a "case lead" in London, who we would interview at 3pm. By the end of the week, we would all have written a short case and teaching note to accompany it.

Our days included lectures, personal preparation, small group discussions, and large group discussions. The small group discussions were particularly helpful. In fact, once we had a first draft of our cases, we gave them to our small groups along with assignment questions to test whether all the necessary information was present. It was an excellent exercise in understanding how cases are used and testing one's writing for completeness.

While much of my work last week has to remain confidential until the release has been signed by my case lead, I am excited about the case that I wrote and look forward to working with colleagues here at the Shannon School of Business to test it in a course in the coming months. It is short, but as our instructors stated, students today are busy and not inclined to read very long cases. A philosophy of "short read, long think" was engrained in us. The less time a student spends reading the case, the more time he or she can spend analyzing and thinking about it. That makes a lot of sense to me.

I'm also very curious to see how my case will go over in a classroom setting. You see, while I thought I was writing an "easy" case, my group members felt that it was deceptive in its simplicity and that on the analytical aspect it was probably a 3 rather than a 1.

All in all, it was a great experience and I'm very excited to put all I've learned into practice here in Cape Breton.

And here's the proof that I'm now a "graduate" of Ivey. πŸ™‚