Introduction to CATWOE

The CATWOE technique is an excellent approach to understanding the various perspectives of each stakeholder has within a business. The following elements of the CATWOE technique are usually uncovered through interviews with each stakeholder:

  • Customer(s)
  • Actor(s)
  • Transformation
  • World view
  • Owner
  • Environment
In more detail

What is CATWOE?
CATWOE is a technique that provides a framework for defining and analysing business stakeholder perspectives. The mnemonic stands for Customer, Actor, Transformation, Worldview, Owner, and Environment.

Why use CATWOE?
In any change initiative, it’s essential to investigate the perspectives of the various stakeholders. It is often the case that stakeholders have different viewpoints about what the problems and opportunities are and how best to tackle them. The CATWOE technique allows you to investigate each stakeholder’s perspective individually and capture this information. The information collated can then be used to help effectively manage the stakeholders, a key element of any change project.

How to use CATWOE?
The output of each CATWOE is specific to that individual stakeholder’s perspective, and so to get the information required, it’s good practice for to meet with the stakeholder face-to-face. An informal meeting, perhaps even outside of the working environment, can allow the stakeholder to open up and you may find that you gather more information from the stakeholder this way, allowing you to build up a clearer picture of that stakeholder’s perspective.

It makes sense to explore the elements of CATWOE in the following order:

  • Worldview: This summarises a stakeholder’s beliefs about the organisation or business system; why the organisation exists and what it should be doing.
  • Transformation: This is the main business activity, the thing that lies at the heart of the organisation’s operations. The reason the word 'transformation” is used, is that the organisation takes inputs and “transforms” them into outputs. It is this process of transformation that is captured here.
  • Customer: Depending on the stakeholder, their view of who the customer(s) are can vary and should be captured here.
  • Actors: These are all the stakeholders (or stakeholder groups) that are involved in carrying out the transformation; the people that enable the business to function.
  • Owner: In the eyes of each stakeholder, who in their opinion owns the business system, and who could instigate change or even closure?
  • Environment: All organisations and businesses operate within the constraints imposed by their environment (Think about business rules - policies, procedures or constraints).

What happens next?
After using the CATWOE technique, if you find that the stakeholder perspectives vary a lot, you may take this information forward and start to design a business activity model (BAM) for each stakeholder perspective. Stakeholder management is essential in any change project, and so regardless of whether or not you create a BAM, you should bear in mind the information gleaned from your CATWOE going forward in the project.