The Challenge Workshop Approach (CWA) is a process used to quickly obtain consensus and approval on important corporate business and technology decisions. CWAs are highly structured and facilitated that bring together company (or customer) decision-makers and key stakeholders to improve decision quality and correctness in collapsed time frames.

The CWA enables organizations to quickly come to an agreement on the basic scope, objectives and business decisions for:

  • Corporate-Level Strategies
  • Business-Level Strategies
  • Functional-Level Strategies
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
Jack Welch

Value Outcomes

The archetypal value outcomes of a successful CWA encompass:

  • Consolidate months of research, analyses, document creation, meetings and phone calls into a structured workshop.
  • Identify and Focus ‘real’ problems and opportunities underlining the planned business decisions.
  • Crystallize support business and technology needs and requirements.
  • Quantify financial and non-financial benefits.
  • Challenge rethink and think out-of-the-box on possible answers and solutions.
  • Consensus: among participation within a sharing environment results in ownership of the decisions and outcomes.

CWA provides businesses with high decision-making velocity and quality that typically generate 2.5 times higher growth, 2 times higher profit and 30 percent higher return on invested capital.

Workshop Participants

The key participants involved in a CWA session include:

Executive Sponsor(s)

The executive sponsor is the company executive responsible for the underlining business and driving the strategic initiative. The executive sponsor generally holds a top-level corporate position with a decision-making role and able to provide the necessary planning,  direction, and implementation activities for managing and implementing new strategic initiative plans and projects.

Subject Matter Expert (SME)

SMEs are business users (and external consultants/experts) who are recognized for their knowledge and experience for the business environment and strategy initiative under consideration.


The facilitator manages the meeting and frames the problems to be mitigated and opportunities to be exploited or leveraged for discussion among the session participants. The facilitator is unbiased, on the topics being discussed, and continually encourages consensus among participants.

Key Business and Technology Stakeholders

Stakeholders also referred to as super users, are generally the business and technology users who are intimate with the target organizational entities, processes, and products, etc.

“If all you’re trying to do is essentially the same thing as your rivals, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be very successful.”
Michael Porter

Challenge Everything: Thinking Out-of-the-Box

The activities typically used to challenge the basis, direction, outcomes, and benefits of decisions on problems or opportunities, during CWA session, include:

  1. Identify the ‘real’ problem or opportunity.
  2. Map out everything that supports the cause and or basis of the problem or opportunity.
  3. Determine whether a regular or typical solution to the problem or opportunity exists.
  4. Identify ways to address the situation in one of the more outlying areas not considered.
  5. Never reject a possible answer or solution because “It simply cannot be done.” Consider everything!
  6. Go through every possibility until a consensus is achieved among the session participants.


Decision-making is the process of making choices by identifying appropriate decisions, gathering information and assessing alternative resolutions.

The CWA Decision-Making Process includes below-structured steps.

  1. Recognize the ‘real’ problem or opportunity.
  2. Identify decision(s) to mitigate, exploit and/or exploit the identified problem or opportunity.
  3. Gather supporting information for analysis.
  4. Identify answer / solution alternatives.
  5. Analyze – weigh all supporting evidence.
  6. Quantity the financial and non-financial value.
  7. Select the optimum alternative answer/solution.
  8. Set measure metrics.
  9. Act – implement the selected decisions.
  10. Review decision performance – ongoing.

The Way Forward

In today’s environment, successful organizations are continually challenged to make quick, high quality and correct decisions that support the execution of their overall strategy and meet projected financial goals. Yet many corporate executives have not yet established a formal and clear decision-making policy and framework with defined decision-making activities that translate throughout the total enterprise.

Too often, indistinct decisions result in organizational misalignment among company stakeholders, causing unnecessary competition, destructive power struggles,  and ultimately hinder a business’ ability to make successful value-based and well-timed decisions.

Knowledge Compass believes that focusing on improved decision-making, with the use of CWA, can provide a formalized process to successfully manage the multiple demands continually being imposed by the marketplace, empowering levels of the organization to function more efficiently and efficiently and bringing clarity during a time of competing priorities.

Knowledge Compass provides consulting services with the use of an array of Frameworks, Analyses Tools, and Interactions from their Best Practices Consultant Toolbox.