The Case Centre’s bestselling authors

Christoph Loch

Christoph Loch
Cambridge Judge Business School

"Write a case that you would like to teach yourself, on a topic that you feel strongly about. Secondly, be really clear about the pedagogical outcome; ask yourself, what is the core message that you think this should convey?"

I rewrote an existing case while I was a PhD student, with a clarified pedagogical goal and a clear analysis method offered to the case teachers. The case became a success. When I then had the opportunity as Assistant Professor to write cases, I wrote them on companies that I worked with, on topics that I found important and interesting. I always had the help of a writer but drove the pedagogy and logic of the story myself.

Core message

I can list three factors that I personally consider important to write a successful case, but I would not make generalisations from my own experience.

Firstly, write a case that you would like to teach yourself, on a topic that you feel strongly about. Secondly, be really clear about the pedagogical outcome; ask yourself, what is the core message that you think this should convey?

Thirdly, keep it as short and simple as possible, but without oversimplifying the problem.

Fundamental approach

I guess this gives away the fundamental approach I have to cases: I do not think cases that broadly brush over many general issues are very useful. I think the complexity of many issues coming together in a real management problem is best addressed out in the field rather than by cases, which cannot fully do justice to them. Therefore, all my cases focus on something more specific. I realise that this may differ from the approach taken to cases in certain sub-areas of strategy.

Favourite cases

My case, Dragonfly: Developing a Proposal for an Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (UAV) (now very old, but it won an award) is an example of a very focused topic, which successfully taught people an issue that they had not understood before: project planning and the effect of uncertainty on it. Another case I am happy with is FriCSo (A): How to Translate a New Technology into a Business Model, about the successful raising of capital by a startup (and the related business model), followed by unforeseeable uncertainty which reduced the chance of success; the case emphasises the need for flexibility and adjustment (a message that does not always sit easily with investors, who like predictability).

Finally, a case that I am proud of is Eurocontrol R&D Center, which has NOT been successful because it addresses an issue that few people (and companies) have thought about: how projects can not only execute but SHAPE the strategy of an organisation. 

View cases written by Christoph

 
About the author

Christoph Loch is Director of Cambridge Judge Business School, UK, and Professor of Management Studies there. Previously, he was the GlaxoSmithKline Chaired Professor of Corporate Innovation (2006-2011), Professor of Technology and Operations Management (2001-2011) and Assistant and Associate Professor (1994-2001) at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France.

From 2009 to 2010, he was Visiting Professor of Operations Management at the Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden, and in 2002 and 2003, Visiting Professor in the Information Dynamics Lab at Hewlett Packard Labs in Palo Alto, California. His research interests include how organisations make innovation happen, including innovation in products as well as processes and practices, focusing on what happens on the ground rather than just strategising at an aggregate level.

Christoph’s case, Dragonfly: Developing a Proposal for an Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (UAV), won an award from The Case Centre in 2004, and his case, Vol de Nuit: The Dream of the Flying Car at Lemond Automobiles SA, was one of the The Case Centre’s bestsellers in 2009.

e c.loch@jbs.cam.ac.uk

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