The Hot Mommas®
Case Writing Tutorial
Your case should have 6 major
sections. The Appendix (7th section) is optional, however the judges will look favorably upon the extra effort made in this section. At the end of the
wizard you will be asked to categorize and label your case which will help with
I Title & Tagline- your
name (option: company name) and a tagline for your case.
introduction of protagonist as well as personal/professional challenges.
III Background with focus
on "aha" moment - leadership moment/moment of confidence.
IV Professional challenge -
a major professional challenge to discuss in the case.
V Personal - a major
professional challenge to discuss in the case.
VI Discussion questions
VII Appendix (Optional)
limit: 500 min 1500 max (not including discussion questions/answers/and title)
- Age Limit:
18 or older
Language/PC: The case should be written from an objective standpoint and use
passive voice (we are following the Harvard Business School case method on
this). Please read the complete tutorial below to find various tips and hints
- Submit by
outline (checklist) and check judging criteria for more information.
The instructions below are for steps 3 through 7 of the case wizard
I. Title and Tagline:
A. Title: Your title should
be your name or some combination of your first name and last initial. Examples:
Vanessa K Brown
name: If you own your company, you can also include that in your title.
Vanessa K Brown and Tech Transfer,
Vanessa Brown and Tech Transfer,
Vanessa K and Tech Transfer, Inc.
Vanessa B and Tech Transfer, Inc.
Vanessa KB and Tech Transfer, Inc.
C. Tagline: Your tagline
should help frame the tone of your story in the readers' mind. There is a 10
-Reaching for the Stars Without
-Raising Venture Capital During a
-Balancing Work and Life With a
-Hires, Fires, Divorce, and Drama
The introduction should set the
stage for the rest of the case by letting us get to know the case protagonist as
well as the major personal and professional challenge set forth in the case.
Here is how a typical intro might
A. Introduction to protagonist
through a specific event (e.g., Vanessa walked in to find her office a wreck.
B. -Get to know both personally
and professionally (e.g., Vanessa was an avid neat freak and did not take to
the state of her office too kindly. How would she ever get through the
extensive contracts she needed to review today?)
C. Hint at personal and
professional challenges (e.g., Contract negotiation was not something Vanessa
enjoyed, nor was it a major strength. She wrestled with the appropriate way to
handle this task which could change the face of her company. The pick-up time
for her daughter - 6:00 pm - loomed. Clearly, a quick prioritization session
was needed. )
Background with focus on -aha moment
In this section, we get to know a
piece of background information about the protagonist (both personal and
professional). The most important part to get across is your aha moment which
is defined as an experience or moment in which the protagonist demonstrated a
particular skill or ability which gave them confidence.
grew up in Chicago. She was raised by her father after her parents divorced.
While I missed the female bond I guessed I would have felt with my mother,
being raised by my father helped prepare me for the male-dominated technology
world. Vanessa knew she could adapt to almost any situation when she ran for
school treasurer in high school. I developed campaign posters, plastered them
around the school, and got really into it. I was devastated when I lost. But
everyone kept commenting on my posters and how much they liked them. I had
designed them myself using a software program. I realized that my real skill and
interest was in technology.
was no surprise to her family or friends when she went on to study engineering.
After college she worked at ____________ where she learned more than she ever
thought possible about _________, ____________, and ___________.
Tip: It can be very tempting to
put a protagonist's entire background, not just a highlight. Focus on a few
areas that define the protagonist as a person and build around it.
Professional challenge - a major professional challenge to discuss in the case.
The professional challenge is the
major professional issue with which the protagonist is grappling. In the
context of communicating this professional challenge, we learn about the
protagonist's place of work. Remember NOT to put the answer to the problem in
the case. While there may be several issues about which you could speak, think
about the MAIN challenge or teaching point you want to come through to the
reader. Professional challenges might include how to most cost effectively
market a product or service (category: Marketing), how to handle a situation
with an employee at work (category: Management), or how to approach planning in
a way that the team will buy-in (category: Planning, sub categories: leadership,
While technology had surfaced
early-on as Vanessa's area of expertise, marketing was another situation
entirely. She hated sales, and found herself wishing the networking event,
sales meeting, or other -getting the word out activity counting the minutes
until it ended. This is not how her business was going to grow.
Tip: If you find yourself
putting the answer to the challenge in the case, save it for later. There is a
discussion questions and -answers section. (The answers will be in a -teaching
notes document for instructors).
Tip: Thinking about the
discussion questions for the case will help focus the professional challenge
(e.g., What strategy do you suggest Vanessa employ now, and in the future, with
her contract negotiations? To do for case writer: Fully outline the challenges
associated with Vanessa's contracts strategy.)
V. Personal - a major
personal challenge to discuss in the case.
The personal challenge is the
major personal/family/outside-of-work issue with which the protagonist is
grappling. In the context of communicating this personal challenge, we learn
more about the protagonist's life. Remember NOT to put the answer to the
problem in the case. While there may be several issues about which you could
speak, think about the MAIN challenge or teaching point you want to come through
to the reader. Personal/family/outside-of-work challenges might include
following your passion (category: Passion), taking care of an adult family
member (category: Adult care-giving), or risk of burnout (category: burnout).
Discussion questions & Answers
A. Discussion questions make or
break a case. You must write between 3 and 5 discussion questions for your case,
plus brief answers. The goal is to have a minimum of one discussion question
about each major issue set forth in the case (personal and professional) as well
as another one which hits on an issue or learning objective you feel is
important. Good questions will:
1. Create a meaningful discussion
in a learning environment.
2. Drive the reader toward a
potential solution or realization in their answer
Discussion questions can lead the
reader to search outside sources to support or help develop their answer.
Tip: Do not include links in your
case, or discussion questions, which might not be valid in a few years. Strong
links around primary documents or articles from established websites are your
Tip: Lead the reader toward
learning, but not toward your opinion. Let them discover their own opinion.
Level 1 discussion question (less
How do you suggest Vanessa
approach her marketing dilemma?
Level 2 discussion question
If you were Vanessa, list the top
three actions you would take to begin to solve the marketing dilemma.
Level 3 discussion question (more
If you were Vanessa, list the top
three actions you would take to begin to solve the marketing dilemma. (Category:
marketing) Place the three actions in a timeline and explain. (Sub category:
If you were Vanessa, list the top
three actions you would take to begin to solve the marketing dilemma. Why?
(Category: marketing) Look up three other businesses like Vanessa's online and
provide a summary of their marketing strategy.
VI B. Answers
Answers to your discussion
questions will be stored in a separate document as -teaching notes for
educators. You do not necessarily need to know the answer to the discussion
question, but, rather share
1. Your intent in asking the
2. Your insider's perspective on
1. Intent of the question: In
asking this question, I could imagine students going back and forth on the
whether Vanessa should strengthen her sales skills, or look elsewhere for sales
help. I could also imagine a discussion taking place from a personal
perspective (e.g., Vanessa doesn't like sales, why should she have to do it?)
and a company perspective (e.g., She should do what it takes for the good of the
2. Insider's Perspective: I
continue to struggle with the question of marketing, however, have made two
major steps. The first is I hired a sales director. I concluded that it would
be impossible for me to become as good at sales as someone who enjoyed it. I
continue to wrestle with this decision as so many people say a CEO should be the
company's primary salesperson. Second, I did strengths analysis. It made me
realize that - in fact - the company could benefit a great deal more from my
utilizing my strengths within the business versus trying to build up a major
weakness. I turned my energy toward trying to build the right team to balance
out my weaknesses.
VII. Appendix (Optional)
An optional appendix should
include the following standard elements, plus whatever additional links and
information the case writer would like to include:
A. Company notes
- This can
be a back of envelope approach of rough notes and bullets for readers to
interpret. For example,
Good meeting at Discovery Communications Monday. Thought it would
help me feel better about sales. Nope.
Looked at Sales Octane and would like to get coached by Jim
B. Relevant links
- The links
in this section should be worked into the case (e.g., -See appendix, section b
or the notes (e.g., Jim Ryerson/Sales Octane mention above).
Link Description: Sales training site
A typical daily schedule from the
time you wake up to the time you go to bed. This helps readers, in no uncertain
terms; understand exactly what it takes to balance. Even if you do not consider
yourself a strong balancer, it provides interesting additional points of
discussion for readers.