It’s surprising how many readers go right along with popular business books that report historical case studies as if it were always evident that they’d succeed. It’s easy to pick winners when “the game” is over. It’s much more difficult while the game is still going. Having been in big corporation most of my business life, it’s clear that things which look very calculated after the fact often depend on a variety of very fortunate, difficult to repeat circumstances, for success.

You can glean additional value from case study winners by figuring out how the success could be repeated; in essence, what are the strategic bread crumbs that would help find your way down the success trail again? Here are four questions to identify strategic bread crumbs:
  1. What’s a generalized description of the case study, i.e. what were they trying to accomplish and what other businesses have similar situations?
  2. What questions would you ask and answer to recreate the successful situation?
  3. What were the critical success factors – things that had to be there for success or would have thwarted success had they been present?
  4. What steps would it take to recreate the situation or move it into another business?

Also use these questions in your own situations to create the strategic bread crumbs to lead you back to repeat successes.