A case study or scenario can be used in informal on-the-job training, coaching and mentoring. It can facilitate a structured one-to-one or small group discussion – or it can facilitate a structured discussion during a team or small staff meeting.
A case study or scenario is a metaphor. It is an example that can guide an informal but focused discussion among two, three or more people who have knowledge and understanding of a specific workplace situation – which could be a need, problem, opportunity or challenge.
The objective of this discussion is an improved understanding of either the situation, or options available for the ‘next action’.
A case study is not a case history – a case history is a detailed and factual record of a specific situation or set of circumstances.
A scenario need not be factual – but it does need to be believable.
The need, problem, opportunity or challenge could be:
- agreeing on the value of a particular action or behaviour,
- responding to an unexpected event,
- assessing risk,
- encouraging innovation,
- testing the best language and style for a safety procedure,
- remedying a deficiency.
In preparation, ensure that:
- the case study or scenario is prepared with a specific situation – and a specific group of people – in mind, and that a copy is provided for each person in the group (maximum of four brief paragraphs),
- nothing is written into the case study or scenario that includes or infers any factual details of persons, time, place, incident or experience,
- each person to participate in the structured discussion has adequate knowledge and understanding of the situation to be discussed with the aid of the case study or scenario,
- privacy and confidentiality are protected,
- respect is shown for all involved with or affected by the discussion, and
- the case study or scenario is clearly presented, and readily connected with the situation.