(VCW Lab version: 07/07/2019)

Photo: Setting of a VCW Game for Decision Making and Problem Solving (this example: scenario prepared for 6 executives)

The VCW 
as a solution for KDMs

  • The VCW is an inovation and decision making method which helps Key Decision Makers (KDMs) and people supporting them to find solutions for their challenges in an effective and efficient manner.
  • VCW’s effectiveness was proven to solve the challenges in the context of individuals, start-ups, NGOS, SMEs, large organizations and Fortune 500. For examples of previous applications of the VCW see section below.
  • The VCW is a meta-framework which finds solutions while complementing, integrating and/or being integrated by tools from different fields.
    • The VCW has proven to provide well supported and convincing solutions to a wide range of relevant problems/challenges of KDMs across different industries and countries.
    • The VCW does not impose to KDMs any pre-established solutions and magic formulas. It is a structured and agile meta-framework, which has the capability to integrate, be integrated and/or complement the more traditional “in-the-box” formulas/matrices with “outside-the-box” and “no-box” tools, frameworks and theories across different fields.
    • The VCW can combine the different perspectives of KDMs and stakeholders, and get their overall in the implementation of the final solution(s).

Why should we use the VCW?

  • As Key Decision Makers (KDMs) we are unique, we are powerful, we can have an impact! Depending on the context, we all can be KDMs. Examples of KDMs include CEOs, Directors of Departments, Intra- and Entrepreneurs, Consumers and Ourselves while managing our daily life. However, KDMs have a wide range of challenges/problems which are hard to solve, due to a wide range of reasons such as problem complexity, lack of support,  lack of choice or too many options, lack of creativity and imagination, difficulties in integrating different perspectives, and/or inexistence of an established problem-solving process which can help KDMs solve their challenges/problems.
  • As a KDM, the VCW can help you to solve your challenges/problems. The VCW starts by defining a challenge/problem using the KDMs. Then, it identifies a wide range of solutions and criteria/filters to solve the challenge/problem, and the KDMs analyses them. Then the VCW narrows the ideas using the filters, and implements the final solution(s).
  • The VCW defines the Key Decision Maker (KDM) as someone, or a group of people (KDMs), who is committed and has the power to solve a challenge/problem at the organizational and/or individual level. To become a KDM is critical to have access to critical resources, i.e. the 3Ms (Manpower, Minute and Money). The KDMs need to be involved in the solving the challenge/problem and, consequently, in the VCW process, because they are the only ones who can implement a solution and define the real challenge/problem.
  • In addition to KDMs, the VCW can be used by all the people (e.g., employees, consultants, and other stakeholders), which were empowered and desire to help KDMs to take their decisions in a better way.

How & Who has been using the VCW over the years?

  • At the organizational level, the VCW has been used by:
    • leaders, owners, C-Level, directors and other key decision makers for  innovation governance, technology-transfer, transform strategy into tactics, product and/or market growth, organizational transformation and corporate change, internationalization, corporate innovation and intrapreneuship, overcome the lack of communication across departments, and other challenges.
    • KDMs which are directors of SBUs and departments (e.g., MKT, HRM, OM, IB, INOV) to find transversal solutions across different fields for their specific challenges,
    • Employees, consultants and others providing support to KDMs of organizations, governments, societies and NGOs,
    • Entrepreneurs to solve their daily challenges of start-ups (e.g., find the right partners, tech-transfer, financing, go-to-market) as well as Intrapreneurs to address their organizational challenges.

    Hundreds of organizations across different sectors, in over 20 countries, have collaborated with VCW teams and our partners. Examples of organizations include Aga Khan Development Network, Ageas, Airbus, AstraZeneca / Santis, AXA, Bank of Cyprus, BéBécar, C.A. Papaellinas group, Cathay Pacific Airways, Cyta-Vodafone, Claranet, Credit Suisse, Crowne Plaza, Deimos-Elecnor Group, Eurocopter, Everis-NTT Data, Forbach city, Flying Tiger, Four Seasons, Gemalto, GDF Suez, GirlMove, IGT, INCM, InvestLisboa, IPO Porto, ITER, Healthcare City, Jerónimo Martins, Liga Portugal, Lufthansa Technik, Mastercard, McDonald’s, OKTAN, Otis, Piraeus Bank, Renova, Rio Tinto Alcan, Santander, Santa Casa Misericórdia Lisboa, Technik, theCamp, Thomson Reuters, Uniplaces, UPS, Vienna International Airport,  among many others.

  • At the educational level, the VCW has been used by professors and students in over 20 countries, in courses across different fields, as a supporting tool for projects at the individual and organizational level (e.g., innovation, value creation, consulting, entrepreneurship, decision making, marketing, int. business, strategy, business law, bioentrepreneurship, air traffic management) which involve the KDMs. Tipically these courses have a strong practical component and require a strong involvement of KDMs in students’ real VCW projects.
    Examples of leading universities where the VCW was used for research and education include Aalto University, Babson College, CIIM, City University of Hong Kong, Goethe University Frankfurt, MIT, Marseille University, Nordakademie, Nova University, Korea University, Solvay University, Vienna University, Warwick University, among many others.
  • The VCW has also been used for years by Individuals (myVCW) to find supported and convincing solutions to solve their challenges and problems. The VCW works particularly well when solving personal challenges/problems because quite often at the individual level there is a single KDM. It has been successfully used at the individual level to answer for example:
      • What is my value proposition for the job-market?
      • What is my life purpose?
      • Where shall I emigrate?
      • How to better organize my time?
      • How can I quit smoking?
      • How can I find an extra income?
      • What to do in my free time?
      • How to find my partner?
  • The VCW has also been used by Consumers/Buyers, to find solutions for important challenges when there is a lack of choice or too much choice.  It has been used to find for example:
    • Which house to buy?
    • Which car to buy?
    • Which computer to buy?
    • Which school/university to enter?
    • Where to go on holidays?
    • How to design our new house?


For which kind of questions and challenges/problems has the VCW been really popular?

  • The VCW has been very  popular to answer divergent questions (e.g., what is the best market segment for my product/service) and/or convergent questions (e.g., which criteria shall I use to select the best market).
  • The VCW is often used to address HOW, WHAT, WHICH, and WHO questions. By the end of the VCW process it becomes possible to answer questions which require deep critical thinking skills (e.g., Why this option and not other? When and how shall we implement the solution?).
  • At the organizational level, it has been very popular in Innovation and New Product Development (e.g., to find the right product/service for a market need), Engineering/Technology (e.g., Technology Transfer, find unique selling point), Marketing (e.g., to find the right value proposition, and target market), Branding/Communication (e.g., to find the right brand, slogan, message), HRM(e.g., how to hire highly qualified people with limited resources, how to motivate my employees over the long-term), Strategy (e.g., to create new markets, differentiate from competitors, repositioning strategy) and International Business (e.g., find the right distributors in market X, which markets to export my products/services).
  • At the personal level, the most popular challenges have been a) what should be my value proposition for the job-market, b) what is the most appropriate job for myself,  and c) where to emigrate?
  • It is frequently used to address the value-cost trade off, (in)existence of options and the paradox of choice. Other paradoxes also addressed include GloCal paradox & tech-push / market-pull paradox, paradox of closeness/openess, coopetition/competition paradox.

For which kind of problems the VCW should not be used?

  • When the KDMs are not involved and committed to the problem and VCW process,
  • When the KDMs have no power and/or access to the 3Ms (Manpower, Minute and Money),
  • When the KDMs do not believe in co-creation and innovation for idea generation and problem-solving.

To learn more about the VCW and two decades of cooperation with companies, executives, scientists, and universities across the world please read Lages, Luis Filipe (2016), “VCW-Value Creation Wheel: Innovation, technology, business, and society”, Journal of Business Research, 69(11), 4849-4855.


Is it compulsory to have scientific supervision to implement a VCW project?

Although the answer is no for VCWsprints (see below), it is strongly advised scientific supervision for VCW projects. This is due to the following reasons:

  1. The VCW team has accumulated both tacit and explicit knowledge, which result from hundreds of projects conducted in different contexts (i.e., different problems, countries, industries, and organizations of different sizes).
  2. Depending on the context and resources, different tools might be used for the different phases of the VCW meta-framework. Two decades of projects revealed that there are different approaches and methods for different VCW challenges, which might be more or less appropriate / effective.
  3. When addressing paradoxes, complex problems and longer projects, boards and KDMs expect quick answers to their questions (e.g., straighforward questions about VCW phases and possible impact). Teams without experience with the VCW cannot answer these questions.
  4. Formal partnerships with the VCW Lab and/or VCW Center at Nova provide access to additional specialized resources to better address challenges in different contexts.

The VCWsprint model:
A (fast) approach to effective and efficient decision making


How to cut costs while increasing value in my organization? How to engage employees in my department? How to develop a GloCal strategy which benefits from economies of scale while satisfying local needs? Where can I go on holidays with my family with a limited budget? What should be my value proposition for the job market?

Please spend some minutes, trying to systematise your decision making process to address these (or any other) challenges.

Figure: Which decision making model will you follow to solve complex problems/challenges?

Now, that you thought about how to address these problems/challenges, please see  below how a VCWsprint can be used as a decision making model to help to solve these and other problems/challenges in a effective and efficient way.


Since the VCW is a structured and cyclical framework, under time pressure and resource limitations, very experienced VCW users might use a VCWsprint, which consists in the application of a very reduced number of tools from the VCW Meta-Framework. Non-experienced VCW users are recommended to learn more about the VCW decision making model (start here) before developing a VCWsprint.

Photo: The 9 Steps of a VCWsprint

We recommend experienced VCW users to complete a VCWsprint before the start of any VCW project. The VCWsprint might last from 30m to workshops of one or two days inside or outside  companies.

The speed of the VCWsprint depends on: complexity of the problem/challenge to be solved, available resources (3Ms- manpower, minute, money), the tacit know-how of the team about the VCW methodology, existing databases of ideas/solutions and filters/criteria, size of the teams, number of internal and external stakeholders, know-how about the context, diversity/alignment of the teams, quality of the supporting material, among others.

The VCWsprint is composed by a maximum of 9 sequential steps as described as follows:

  1. VCW Phase 1: by the KDM(s)
    • 1) Context: Why do you have this problem? Definition of problem/challenge (min. 2m-5m)
  2. VCW Phase 2: everybody
    • 2a) Brainwriting of ideas/solutions followed by internet search for ideas/solutions (min. 6m-12m)
    • 2b) Brainwriting of criteria/filters followed by internet search for criteria/filters (min. 6m-12m)
  3. VCW Phase 3: by the KDM(s), with or without the team
    • 3a) Select key ideas/solutions (min. 2m-4m)
    • 3b) Select key criteria/filters (min. 2m-4m)
    • 3c) Rank key filters (min. 2m-4m)
  4. VCW Phase 4: by everybody
    • 4a) Value Creation Funnel or Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis tool (min. 5m-10m)
    • 4b) Concept/protoype (min. 2m-4m)
  5. VCW Phase 5: by the KDM(s)
    • 5) 3Ms: Manpower, Minute, Money and discussion about future application of a VCW Meta-Framework (Go or NoGo) (min. 2m-6m)

Example of a VCW Sprint to help
John to find a Value Proposition for the Job Market (VCW steps: 1, 2a, 2b)


Continuation of the example of a VCW Sprint to help
John to find a Value Proposition for the Job Market (VCW steps: 3a, 3b, 3c, 4a, 4b, 5)

VCWsprints should focus on a single challenge and can be applied in a wide range of situations which require fast results with very limited resources.

Advanced users of the VCW might also use the VCWsprint to see if it is possible to solve a challenge before entering into a VCW meta-framework process which will require much more resources.

Would you like to start a VCW Sprint?
(VCW steps: 1, 2a, 2b)


Continuation of your VCW Sprint
(VCW steps: 3a, 3b, 3c, 4a, 4b, 5)

The VCWsprints tend to be very efficient and effective. For example, recently the “VCW Center at Nova” did a VCWsprint with 6 people to answer the following question: “How to recruit more interns and volunteers to the VCW Center?” After asking all the 6 VCW members to do do a brainwriting to fill Phase 2a and Phase 2b, and analysing our database of VCW projects, where we have several projects which aswered exactly the same question for other organizations, the VCW Center found hundreds of ideas for phase 2a (generation of ideas/solutions) and phase 2b (generation of ideas/solutions). The VCW project manager, who had many years of experience with the VCW, was able to jump straight away to phase 3a (selection of ideas/solutions) and phase 3c (ranking of filters), followed by phase 4a (Value Creation Funnel) and implementation in phase 5 (3Ms- Manpower, Minute & Money). In any case, since the VCW is a “wheel”, an experienced VCW project manager might always return to a previous stage if additional information is required.

Very important: A VCWsprint should focus on a single challenge.  We strongly do not recommend to use VCWsprints in order to address different challenges within a meeting/workshop. 


The VCW creates value by offering unique solutions:

1) The VCW only works in problems/challenges supported by the Key Decision Makers. A KDM is defined as: 

  • Someone, or a group of people (KDMs), who is committed and has the power to solve a challenge/problem at the organizational and/or individual level.
  • Has access to critical resources, i.e. the 3Ms (Manpower, Minute and Money).
  • Is involved in the solving the challenge/problem and, consequently, in the VCW process, because they are the only ones who can implement a solution and define the real challenge/problem. consensus concerning  the problem/challenge to address, filters/criteria and ideas/solutions,

2) The VCW discovers customized, consensual and implementable solutions (Go/No-Go), which are co-created and supported by the key decision makers and a wide range of stakeholders:

  • Finds consensus concerning  the problem/challenge to address, filters/criteria and ideas/solutions,
  • Finds the right bridge between a wide range of individuals:
    • different key decision makers,
    • diferent internal and external stakeholders,
    • supporters and divergent thinkers (e.g. devil’s advocate, skeptical people, laggards, late-adopters, children and/or elderly people),

3) The VCW creates value while saving resources in the problem-solving process through:

  • Involving since the begining of the process the KDMs on critical steps:
    • defining the problem/challenge, 3Ms, diagnosis & KPIs,
    • analysing solutions and filters,
    • implementation.
  • Purifying, organizing, separating, selecting and prioritizing:
    • Problems,
    • Ideas/solutions: i.e. direct answers to the challenge/problem to be solved (phase typically often supported by creativity)
    • Filters/criteria: i.e. choice criteria related to the selection of the ideas/solutions to solve the challenge/problem (phase typically supported by rationality).
  • Conducting individual VCWsprints & combining multiple VCWsprints.
  • Managing the 3Ms (Manpower, Minute, Money).
  • Achieving efficiency and effectiveness (e.g., predicting future mistakes/failures, continuous improvement, optimizing resources, improving productivity)

4) The VCW solves complex challenges and a wide range of paradoxes.

  • The VCW has been used to solve high complex challenges, such as:
    • paradox of choice,
    • limited or lack of choice,
    • paradox market-pull versus tech-push,
    • paradox global versus local.


The VCW has unique attributes:

1) The VCW is a meta-framework which is simultaneously structured and agile, rational and creative, and does not impose pre-established solutions or frameworks.

  • Follows a structured-agile MAP approach (Maximize, Analyze, Prioritize),
  • Does not impose or invalidate any idea/solution, filter/criteria or framework,
  • The VCW can partner with any organization and/or individual,
  • The VCW integrates and/or complements any existing solutions, established theories, tools or frameworks (e.g., organizational tools, 5Whys, situational analysis, RELQUAL, brainwriting, brainstorming, bank of ideas, design thinking, scorecards, BCG Matriz, McKinsey matrix, McRisk Assessment Matrix, SERPVAL, strategic triangle, SCAMPER, business model, business plan, financial plan, KPIs).
  • Complements and integrates different parts of any business puzzle, such as:
    • an idea/solution and an opportunity/need,
    • a value proposition and a business model,
    • the different parts ofa marketing plan.
  • Allows VCWsprints and frequent re-runs to revisit past steps.

2) The VCW is a transversal problem-solving framework, which can be applied to a wide range of problems/challenges across individuals, organizations, industries and countries.

3) The VCW combines theory and practice. The VCW varies along three dimensions of width, lenght and height regarding:

  •  Theory: DIANA- Define, Increase, Assess, Narrow, Act. The DIANA theoretical framework provides a holistic approach to problem-solving, which supports scientific, technological, managerial, and societal advancements trough a wide range of scientific methodologies and managerial approaches.
  • Practice: TIAGO- Tap, Induce, Analyse, Ground, Operate. The TIAGO practical approach appears as a chameleon framework, completely customized to each specific case and problem, being supported by DIANA’s accumulated knowledge over two decades.

The variation along these three dimensions are dependent on the 3Ms (Manpower, Minute & Money) allocated to each project as well as on the existing databases of theory and practice, which will feed every VCW project.

VCW: Going Beyond Design Thinking?

Several managers have been applying the VCW after a DT-Design Thinking project, which generated innumerous ideas but was not able to arrive to implementable solution(s). This explains why some argue that the VCW is a more advanced version of DT or a framework which integrates and/or complements DT.
Althought the VCW might have some similarities with DT (e.g., it is an agile framework, is transversal across problems and industries, and inspired by co-creation, open-innovation and creativity for idea generation and prototyping), it has major differences:

1) The VCW merely addresses REAL problems/challenges and solutions are expected to be REALLY implemented. As such, the Key Decision Makers (KDMs):

a) launch those problems/challenges to be solved,

b) select ideas and  then select and rank the “must have” & “nice to have” filters,

c) are directly involved in the implementation.

2) It is stakeholder-centric (rather than user-centric).

3) It is a meta-framework which can incorporate a wide range of solutions and/or frameworks from different fields. The VCW does not impose its own frameworks, tools, filters.

4) The VCW combines creativity with skepticism and bottom-up with top-down approches. It allows the use of “Yes & No”, “And” & “But”.


To learn more about the VCW, please explore the videos of past non-confidential projects at and this site:

Please contact us (lflages if you wish to learn more about the VCW.


VCW characteristics

VCW application method

The VCW is composed by five phases, going from the formulation of the problem/challenge to the final solution. Click the respective phase for further explanation:

Phase 1: How to discover value?

Definition of the context & background, concerning the internal and external perspectives to get a clear knowledge about the market, the product and the team;

Research question: Definition of the problem to solve or the challenge to address.

Phase 2: How to create value?

Induce solutions: generation of ideas/solutions to answer the problem/challenge;

Induce filters: generation of criteria/filters to select the ideas/solutions.


Phase 3: How to validate value?

Key decision makers: Analyze previous ideas/solutions and rank the criteria/filters.

Phase 4: How to capture value? 


Application of the Value Creation Funnel (VCF) to narrow the number of potential solutions;

Drawing the concept and/or prototype for the final solution(s).

Phase 5: How to consolidate value?


Operationalization: Go, No-Go or Go back. If applicable, apply the 3Ms and/or a Business Model to support the final decision;

Identification of next challenges & future partners.



Value Creation Wheel Advantages

Helps to solve paradoxes and complex problems

Systematizes the generation of solutions

Releases the process of creating ideas

Organizes the selection criteria for those ideas

Enables organizations to simultaneously look inside and outside

Read the scientific paper:

Lages, L. F. (2016). VCW—Value Creation Wheel: Innovation, technology, business, and society. Journal of Business Research.

See the video:

VCW – Why? What? How?