It’s the most important skill set you probably never learned: solving problems and selling the solutions.
How can you do it better?

Cracked It!

Available at


For most of us, solving complex problems and selling the solutions doesn’t come naturally and we haven’t been taught how to do it well. In Cracked It!, seasoned strategy professors and consultants Bernard Garrette, Corey Phelps and Olivier Sibony show us how, using a rigorous, practical and proven four-step approach.

Building on tried-and-tested (but rarely revealed) methods of top strategy consultants, research in cognitive psychology, and the latest advances in design thinking, they provide a step-by-step process and toolkit that will help you tackle any challenging business problem. Using detailed case examples, the authors guide us through each step in the process: from how to state, structure and then solve problems to how to sell the solutions.

Written in an accessible and engaging style, Cracked It! provides compelling stories of both good and bad problem solving and solution selling from diverse contexts. We learn how a new CEO quickly sized up a problem facing an aging retail chain and implemented a strategic solution that worked for him before, only to experience disastrous results; how an industrial designer of MRI scanners saw his design problem through the eyes of a child, leading him to reimagine the scanner experience; and how a seasoned scientist failed to convince people that too much sugar causes obesity, while a shrewd rival successfully sold an alternative story incriminating fatty food.

Cracked It! will be an indispensable manual for anyone interested in creating value by helping their organizations crack the problems that matter most.


The 4S Method

Research shows numerous pitfalls trip us up when we try to solve difficult business problems and sell the solutions. The 4S method will help you develop and sell better solutions by avoiding these pitfalls.

State the Problem

A narrow framing can lead to a flawed problem definition and irrelevant solutions. Cracked It! provides a disciplined approach to understanding and defining problems.

Structure the Problem

It's easy to fall prey to the solution confirmation trap where we zero in on a solution without testing it and ignoring conflicting evidence. Cracked It! shows you how to structure a problem effectively using hypothesis pyramids, issue trees and solution imperatives.

Solve the Problem

The frameworks we use to analyze and solve problems can blind us to their true nature, leading to ineffective and costly solutions. Cracked It! provides you with the tools to overcome this challenge and arrive at the best solution.

Sell the Solution

When we communicate our recommendations, we often tell the story of how we arrived at the solution instead of why the solution should be adopted, forgetting that our reasoning isn’t obvious to our audience. Cracked It! shows you how to use the pyramid principle to develop a persuasive pitch.

Cracked It! Animated Trailer

In the media

The Most Important Leadership Skill You Probably Never Learned

Why Your MBA Needs to Incorporate Problem-Solving Skills

Forbes logo

The Five Pitfalls of Problem Solving - And How to Solve Them

Ten Not-to-Miss Books for the Summer.

Corey sits down with Cheddar's Alyssa Smith to discuss Cracked It!

Getting Smart logo

Business Schools and the Problem-Solving Skills Gap

Corey discusses Cracked It! with CTV Montreal anchor Mutsumi Takahashi.

IEDP reviews Cracked It!

The Right Way to Solve Complex Business Problems

How To Become a Better Problem Solver - The 4S Method

The Expertise Trap: When Experts Fail At Problem Solving

Complex problem-solving: The most important leadership skill you may have never learned

What experts are saying...

“Too many companies fail because of bad strategic problem solving. This book is full of frameworks and tips to help you avoid that fate.”

Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg

“Strategy is problem solving - an important, subtle and pervasive skill for which business practitioners receive little formal training. Cracked It! provides a valuable and practical guide to the art, from framing the problem through to communicating and selling the solution, which should be invaluable to practitioners and consultants”

Martin Reeves, Senior Partner & Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group

“Written by a trio of leading experts on strategy who draw on decades of rigorous academic research and consulting experience, Cracked It! offers a crystal clear approach to frame and solve challenging strategic issues. A must-read for executives, consultants, and business school students."

Laurence Capron, Professor of Strategy and Dean of Faculty, INSEAD

“When dealing with a major business issue, every decision maker faces his own cognitive biases that can trip him up. Cracked it! provides practical, value-creating and proven insight to develop and sell sound solutions by overcoming these biases.”

Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO, Orange


The pitfalls of problem solving

Intuitive approaches to solving problems can end badly, especially when we rely on assumptions we don’t question (or even acknowledge), and jump to conclusions. Cracked It! explores five real-life cases that illustrate the primary pitfalls of assumption-based problem solving.

About the authors

A trio of experts

Bernard Garrette

Professor of Strategy, HEC Paris

Bernard Garrette is Professor of Strategy and Business Policy at HEC Paris. He serves as management consultant and business educator for various organizations, from start-ups to multinational corporations.

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Corey Phelps

Dean and Professor of Strategy, University of Oklahoma

Corey Phelps is the Dean and Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Price College of Business, University of Oklahoma. His research and teaching, which are focused on innovation and strategy, have received several prestigious awards.

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Olivier Sibony

Affiliate Professor of Strategy, HEC Paris

Olivier Sibony is Affiliate Professor of Strategy at HEC Paris, where he teaches problem solving and strategic decision making. Previously, he was a Senior Partner of McKinsey & Company, where he spent 25 years...

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© Copyright 2018 by Bernard Garrette, Corey Phelps and Olivier Sibony. All Rights Reserved.