Case Studies: Understanding the Core of Any Business

Author: Brian Taylor, Au.D.

In simple terms, the case study method is a proven approach to operating a business. Pioneered by the Harvard Business School more than 50 years ago, and adapted by entrepenuers around the world to better understand what options manifest the best outcomes,  the case method presents the greatest challenges confronting organizations and places the student (or audiologist) at the center of the decision making process, often using a real world example from an operating business. In this issue of Audiology Practices we review two case studies, but before you read any further, it might be helpful to review the inner workings of a business.

Regardless of the business there are several univeral components. These are shown in Figure 1. Let’s briefly examine each of these variables and how they relate to the case study method.

The Inner Core. Like a tight knit family, the inner core forms the basis for a meaningful and profitable business.

Customers (Who?). Professor Peter Drucker said, "the purpose of any business is to create and keep a customer." For audiologists, customers are typically indivuduals with hearing loss or balance problems.

Value Proposition (What?). The service or product you are offering customers must be of value. It must be something they believe will solve a problem. It must have enough value that customers are willing to take the time and commit the financial resources to acquire it. To differentiate your offerings to customers from those competitors, it is imperative that what you are offering is attractive or appealing.

Value Chain (How?). The way value is created; the clinical process, the way hearing devices are ordered from a vendor, the buying journey for the customer– these are essential components of any value chain.

The Outer Core. Like the earth’s atmosphere, the inner core would not survive without a healthy, properly functioning outer core

Revenue Model (Why?). An essential, yet often overlooked component of the inner core of any business is the revenue model. The revenue
model is the turnkey template or process in which the business generates revenue as well as profit. Bundled versus fee-for-service pricing, subscription or leasing services are examples of revenue models.

Ethics. A set of moral rules that govern how businesses operate, how business decisions are made and how people are treated. Doing what is in the best interest of patients is job #1.

Analytics. The ability to collect, evaluate and manage key performance indicators that drive business growth, profitabilty and quality. 

Business Intelligence.  A process by which businesses use strategies and technologies for analyzing current and historical data of customers.

People. Qualified, motivated and trained indviduals who operate all the day-to-day activites shown in the figure below.