Tag Archives: business school

Final exam: Business Problem Solving Logics and Framework (at Yokohama National University)

This is an example of the final exam requirements of my class(“Business Problem Solving Logic and Framework) for undergraduate students at Yokohama National University.

This year, I picked up a hot topic in Japan facing the challenges to welcome lots of inbound visitors before and during Tokyo Olympic in 2020.

Problem solving

My class is all designed for the international students who spend four years for business study at the university. They already experienced how hard it is to live, study and work in Japan as non-Japanese students.


My goal of the class and exam is for them to find their own solutions but in a logical way.


In the class, the students learn some process and techniques/framework to solve a (business, social) problem in a logical way such as:

  • Logic tree development
  • Problem formulation
  • Root cause analysis
  • Hypothesis approach etc.


After spending several weeks for those individual study, we start “group exercise”, where your facilitaion skills are required to cordinate discussion among the students with different backgrounds.

It is really challenging and demanding, but it is an extremely sutable situation where you can learn how to manage possible conflicts in the “global” workplace with the people from the diverse backgrounds.


I am really excited to see their final presentations in the coming few weeks!


Good Luck!



Business planning class at Yokohama National University

I saw great progress of my students to develop their own financial plan with business strategy.

It took only three months to achieve it, who did not know even what “Revenue” is in April.

Here is an example output of a student in the class.


The business case was “web site developer” where you need to develop a business plan to reach positive profit within a year.


Reasonable business strategy in line with the assumptions in the business model is also required in the presentation.




This is a fundamental and basic business skill where you will be required in any type of business in the world.


I would be happy to discuss a chance to conduct the class (even as an intensive program).

How to find business insights from simple data

My business statistics class has started at Yokohama National University.

The first exercise of the class today was making a summary of the customer inquiry data at a shopping mall.


The students (international students from 12 countries) were required to make a brief report of the data with the following consideration:


(1) Which category is the most critical, Gender, Age or type of shop?

(2) At which level do you need aggregate the original data to find the insights effectively?

(3) What is the conclusion rather than calculation results?

You do NOT have to rely on any advanced statistical techniques rather you can use simple tools such as TOTAL, AVERAGE, PERCENTAGE etc.


This is the first step for the students who want to manage business data effectively. They were really excited about the exercise.


Enjoy and study hard!

Data analysis & management class: An “extremely practical” business program at university

The new semester at Yokohama National University in Japan will begin soon.

Here is an agenda of one of my programs for the international students:

      Modeling with statistics and meta-data


The name of the program is a bit strange against my intention but the program is designed for the students who need to make:

(i) a story-based presentation supported by quantitative information (data, data analysis)

(ii) a survey for their business plans/presentations



The class is composed of three parts:

 (1) Data management basics

(2) Data analysis techniques

 (3)  Application exercises (Story-making, survey arrangement)



So excited to start the extremely practical business program in April for the undergraduate students from all over the world!




How would you make sure that you meet MECE requirement in your logic tree?

“I am not alway for sure that I meet the MECE requirement when developing a logic-tree”

This is a common issue for many problem-solvers.

Many of the pure “academic” people cannot solve this issue and they may not be able to reach a practical solution forever.


On the other hands, practical business person needs to conclude issues and decide which way to go.

I have the solution for such practical problem-solvers, which I teach to the students in my university business class.

There are two simple criteria as follows. If you are sure that you meet the criteria, then you may not have any practical issues even if you stop expanding logic-tree further.



This is something you cannot find in any kinds of “logical-thinking” books but you definitely need to know when facing a practical issue to solve.


How do you make sure of the MECE structure?

Keeping MECE (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive) is one of the biggest challenges for applying the logical thinking concepts for practical issue-solving.


In my class, students learn how to develop a logic tree while keeping the MECE structure in a practical way.


One of the tips is using “Pair concept” for coming up with possible alternative ideas.

The concept logically leads to a solid logic tree as follows:


Once you have an idea of possible cause (in the chart above, “Promotion was not effective”), you may draw an alternative cause by asking yourself “WHAT IF this is not a cause”.


In the chart above, the alternative is “Price up”.


Similarly you may repeat the same practices until you cannot come up with any other ideas.

In addition to the simple “pair concept” practice, you may apply the “category approach” as follows:



The words in blue in the chart above show “category names”, while descriptions in the white boxes are possible causes.

Using “Category names” allows you to lead alternative ideas much more easily by applying the pair concept to the category itself, rather than to the possible causes.


In my problem solving class, students repeat this excercises until they can make a solid tree showing all possible causes logically. It does not take much time, only a couple of practices are required.








How to make an “effective” graph

A new class “Modeling with statistics” started for undergraduate students at Yokohama National University.

In the class, I talk about practical data analysis skills for business. It is not just an academic statistics but how you find/create insights from data and apply them to practical solutions.

The main message of the class is “Goal-oriented” approach, where the thinking process is quite important. Many business persons/students tend to start to process data once received, but such approach would not show anything useful for the ultimate goal.  In any case, you need to start with goal setting/definition and identify what data to collect and how to show/analyze the data in order to achieve the goal.

Main topic of this week was data aggregation/breakdown to effectively achieve the goal.

You need to think of the appropriate level of aggregation of data which many people tend to use the raw data without thinking about the level of aggregation.



One of the exercise in the class this week was as follows:


Students need to think of the most effective way to illustrate their messages by aggregating or breaking down the data. Also they are required to find the most effective graph to show the conclusion.

I gave them advice that “Outputs” are NOT necessarily your final “Message/conclusion”. You need to put the final conclusion, not just showing the graphs or tables.


As an output example, if you want to show the yearly trend by Product, then you may aggregate the regional data into the total by year and make a graph as follows:


As another example, if you want to show the sales ratio by region or by-product so that you can discuss the future potential market(s) or identify the area to focus, then you may illustrate the message as follows:

In this case, you can aggregate yearly data into the average to simplify the message.


Final example is as follows:

If you want to identify the potential market(s), then you may distinguish the trends across the markets. In this case, I would put more business focus on the Asian market rather than America.


This was a simple exercise, but the students struggled to define their goals(what to show) , to find an effective way to show the outputs and to summarize the conclusion briefly.

I believe this is a good exercise for them to learn how to utilize the data to create value in business operations. It must be a good skill for students to learn before going to the “real” business world!