2. The 100-Day Challenge journey

The 100-Day Challenge Journey

The journey can be confusing with multiple actors that come in and out of different events. Over many years of experimentation, 100-Day Challenge Ambassadors pioneering this work have developed a particular rhythm that seems to work best.

Let's now go through the journey from the perspective of a team member.

We will do this by describing a scenario of someone receiving a letter inviting them to be a member of a GBVF 100-Day Challenge team. We refer to this letter as the “Challenge Note”.  It invites team members to participate in a 100-Day Challenge Lift-Off Workshop.

We will take the story from this point forward. And then, we will work our way backwards to see what needed to happen before that letter landed on the desk of the team member. 

The Story

Challenge Note

You are a social worker. You received a Challenge Note asking you to be on a 100-Day Challenge team, with a mission of significantly accelerating the response time to sexual assault complaints to the hotline in your district, and ensuring more integrated support to the victims. 

The Challenge Note invited you and your teammates to participate in a Lift-off Workshop, where you would meet your fellow teammates, learn about 100-Day Challenges, set your 100-Day Goal, and develop your 100-Day Plan.

Local 100-Day Team

You are a member of the 100-Day Team. You and your teammates, likely to be members of local government departments (including the police and courts) and non-profit organisations working on gender-based violence, will be responsible for the following:

At the Lift-off Workshop
  • Deciding on the 100-Day Goal. 
  • Developing the initial 100-Day Plan.
  • Electing team leader(s) to keep the team focused and organised.
During the 100 Days
  • Implementing the 100-Day Plan and measuring its impact.
  • Meeting every week with the team to review progress and adjust the 100-Day Plan as needed.
  • Doing what it takes to achieve your 100-Day Goal
Towards the end of the 100 Days
  • Developing recommendations to leaders on how to sustain and scale the impact.
Two important things to note:

The team is involved in actual service delivery and “client-facing” work.

You and your teammates are not the heads of your organisations or departments. You are more likely to be directly involved in “client-facing” work. In the example of the challenge of accelerating response time to sexual assault complaints and ensuring more integrated victim support services, the team will likely include a policewoman, social workers from the organisations involved in service delivery, the hotline operator and dispatcher, court clerk, member of the Rapid Response team…

This goes back to our lessons from a crises: the people closest to the issue are most likely to know the problems and find the solutions.

The goal involves achieving an actual results.

The goal that the team develops will need to be focused on an actual result. So in this same example, the goal might be:

(a) In 100 days, we will reduce the average time from a crisis call to someone on the scene from 30 minutes to 10 minutes, with at least 3 service providers ready to support the victim. 

(b) During the last 30 days of the 100-Day Challenge, stress calls will be responded to within at most 15 minutes, and 3 victim care providers will be available on the scene within 1 hour.  

Contrast these with the following goals:

(c) In 100 days, we will train all police officers in the district on victim-centred care.

(d) Within 100 days, we will develop and deploy an app that can connect directly and discretely to the sexual assault hotline and all relevant service providers. 

Our experience is that there will be a temptation to frame a 100-Day goal so it includes delivering on a number of commitments that look like the last two goals (“c” & “d”). These may be existing initiatives or ideas for projects that leaders are excited about. These will inevitably come up in the early workshops of the 100-Day Challenge journey.

It is important to take note of these initiatives and ideas, and to offer them up to the 100-Day team as suggestions for their 100-Day work plan. But the goal of the 100-Day project needs to look more like the first two goals (“a” or “b”).   We will dig deeper into this in the first two Landmarks of the programme.

We refer to goals (a) & (b) as “Results-orientated goals”.  These are the types of goals teams set in 100-Day Challenges.

Goal (c) & (d) are “activity-orientated” goals which could be part of the 100-Day work plan.

We will dig deeper into this in the first two Landmarks of the programme.

Now let’s go back to when you received the Challenge Note, what is the work that led up to this? 

The Challenge Note was signed by one or two individuals who probably self-identified as Mentors of the 100-Day Challenge team (in the Challenge Note). Who are these mentors? 

The Mentors

The mentors are senior leaders in the local organisations working on gender based violence and femicide. One of them, for example, may be the head of the local police department. And they were elected by a group of organisational leaders who came together and decided to tackle this issue in the district, using 100-Day Challenges as a strategy for mobilising people for action, across the various organisations involved in this issue locally.

So mentors were elected by other local leaders… Who are these local leaders, and what role did they play?

Local Leaders

This is the group that came together and discussed the issue, and decided to start by focusing in the first 100 days on accelerating response time and improving service integration. Based on this, they decided on the organisations that needed to be represented on the 100-Day team, and the specific team members. They also elected the mentors so they represent them vis-a-vis the 100-Day team.

During the 100 days, these local leaders continue to support the team, as needed.  The mentors will update the leaders on the teams’ progress and share the insights that are emerging.  

And who convened these local leaders, and asked them to get this 100-Day Challenge journey underway? If you look into it, you will see that one person sent out invitations to local leaders to join them at an event that they may have referred to in the invitation as the Leadership Design Workshop. This person is the Convener. More on the Convener below.

The Convener

So the 100-Day Journey starts with the Convener. The Convener can also play the role of the Mentor, or they can train to be a 100-Day Challenge Ambassador. More often than not, these are two distinct roles, with the Ambassador working with the Convener first, then with the Mentors, and then with the 100-Day Team.  And they continue to work with all of them during the 100 days. 

After the 100 days are over, the 100-Day team, with the support of the Mentors, passes the baton over to the Leadership Group and to the Convener. They will decide on what to do to build on the work that the 100-Day team accomplished.   

Here are all the travellers on a 100-Day Challenge journey.

One more reminder about where all this work happens

The team, mentors, and system leaders are all local – they are associated with a geographic region such a court or a district or a municipality.  The fundamental premise of 100-Day Challenge work is that people involved in the work are in the best position to know the issues and find the solutions. And their involvement in developing the solutions increases the chances that these will be implemented wholeheartedly. So leaders and others in national ministries or corporate headquarters have an important role to play in shaping policies and long term strategies. But the actors we talked about above cannot be from national ministries or corporate headquarters. They are always “local”!

This completes the narrative of the 100-Day Challenge journey.

Landmarks on the Journey

 We can view the 100-Day Challenge journey as a series of interconnected events, each building on the other. 

First, let’s watch a short video on how the events connect, from a leadership perspective, and then we will dig a bit deeper into each workshop.

Digging deeper into Each Workshop

The image below depicts all the workshop on a timeline. The 100-Day Team is the primary player in the middle three events, at the start, middle and end of the 100 days. And the Leadership Group is the primary player in the two events at the edges of the journey, 30 days before and after the 100 days.

Click the buttons below to see the components of each workshop,  framing these so they relate to the 3 key elements we discussed before:  goal, plan and team.

Leadership Design Workshop 

Goal: Leaders decide on the “impact indicator” that the team will use in setting their 100-Day Goal

Plan: Leaders identify the current GBVF initiatives their departments and organisations are involved in

Team: Leaders identify who should be on the 100-Day team, and they will elect mentors to support the team.

Team Lift-off Workshop

Goal: The 100-Day team sets their “nearly impossible” goal

Plan: The 100-Day team develops their initial plan, including new ideas and experiments to test 

Team: The 100-Day team elects a leader and develops a team operating agreement. 

Refuelling Workshop

Goal: Assess progress and confirm or adjust the goal as needed.

Plan: Adjust the plan and experiments for the coming 50 days, as needed.

Team: Assess team dynamics and adjust team agreement as needed

Landing Workshop 

Goal: Decide on a preliminary goal that can be sustained beyond the initial 100 days. 

Plan: Develop ideas for building the systems that could sustain the goal.

Team: Decide on leaders who need to participate in the Re-Launch Workshop.

Re-launch Workshop

Goal: Confirm sustaining goal; decide on next impact indicators to focus on

Plan: Finalise plan for building systems to sustain the goal

Team: Decide on the leadership team to drive the system building plan; decide who will be on the next 100-day Challenge Team.

Apart from the events, there is the “Exploration” work during the 100 days. This is the day-to-day work of the 100-Day team. The team meets weekly during the 100 days. At the weekly team meetings, the team looks at three main things: 

Goal: Progress against their goal, using a tracking chart where possible

Plan: Progress against commitments in their work plan

Team:  Quick check on how the team is doing, who needs support, and how to provide that.

The Learning Programme is organised into 7 Landmarks corresponding to the 5 Workshops, the Exploration work during the 100 days, and the Pre-Design work before getting to the Leadership Design Workshop.

Thought starter reflection questions

Jot down thoughts on these questions – to the extent they are relevant to your experience at the session:
  • When did the mood in the event shift from “why are we here?” to “this could be interesting – I am excited to be part of this.” What triggered this shift? 
  • When did you have to go “off script” on the agenda or to change the agenda? What triggered this? What did you adjust? How did it go?
  • What was most surprising to you at the event?
  • What new insights did you gain about the issue at hand, and about the way leaders in the system interacted with each other?
  • Where did the conversation get stuck? What got it unstuck?
  • How would you characterise the level of trust among participants in the meeting? To what extent did this shift as the meeting progressed? To what do you attribute this shift, if indeed it happened?

Thought starter...

Reflection Questions 

Jot down thoughts on these questions – to the extent they are relevant to your experience at the session:

  • When did the mood in the event shift from “why are we here?” to “this could be interesting – I am excited to be part of this.” What triggered this shift? 
  • When did you have to go “off script” on the agenda or to change the agenda? What triggered this? What did you adjust? How did it go?
  • What was most surprising to you at the event?
  • What new insights did you gain about the issue at hand, and about the way leaders in the system interacted with each other?
  • Where did the conversation get stuck? What got it unstuck?
These are 100-Day Challenge Mentors. 

They did some work before you received the Challenge Note. This included:

  • Writing the Challenge Note, and making sure that the leaders of all the organisations represented on the team are comfortable with it – and committed to supporting the work of the team
  • Helping the leaders of these organisation recruit you and your colleagues to the team
  • Gathering some baseline data and other information that will help you and your teammates set your 100-Day goal and develop your plan.
  • Making sure all the preparations are made for a successful Lift-Off workshop, when you and your teammates will meet and get your 100-Day Challenge started. This includes venue, facilitation support, food, swags, comms, travel arrangements and whatever else is needed.


Mentors will participate in all or part of the Lift-Off Workshop, mostly at the start to provide context and answer questions, and at the end to give you and your teammates feedback about the goal and plan you develop.

During the 100 days following the Lift-Off Workshop, here’s what the Mentors will do:  

  • They will check in every two weeks with the team leaders to see how the team is doing and what support they and the team need.
  • They will keep other organisational leaders informed and engaged during the 100 days, and pull them in to help as needed.
  • They will participate in the last part of the Refuelling Workshop, halfway through the 100 days, to see what additional support the team needs, and to begin to plan with the team for sustainability and scale-up.
  • They will work with the team at the Sustainability Workshop to finalise recommendations on sustaining the results and building on the work of the team.