Learning and enquiry 101

An attitude of the organisation

In the PIEs 2.0 account, "Learning and Enquiry' describes an attitude of mind within an organisation or service, which can be expressed in many ways. The term "Learning and Enquiry" covers all the ways in which the organisation itself tries to understand what it needs to be doing. This can include

  • creating a 'culture of enquiry'
  • encouraging reflective practice
  • engaging with other services, to recognise and understand changing needs
  • evidence generating practice

A culture of enquiry

Creating a 'culture of enquiry' means  adopting an attitude and an atmosphere of learning from specific incidents or from general shifts in the needs and the work of the service.  The opposite of a culture of enquiry would be a culture of blame - whether blaming the client or the staff. But equally, it might mean a culture of adherence to the rules, or the contract.

Reflective practice

Reflective practice can take many forms, from individual to team to the whole organisation. In some services that are particularly keen to encourage reflection and learning from experience in 'frontline; services, putting time aside for reflective practice sessions may be helpful.

But as we mean it here, reflective practice which is shared, in teams, seems to do most to establish the attitude of a culture of enquiry, and to translate thinking with emotional intelligence into practical responses.

Systems engagement

A culture of learning and enquiry, rather than adherence and blame, can also operate at the level of whole systems, local partnerships and pathways. The systems change and system brokerage efforts we have seen in many areas are examples of system-level learning and enquiry.

This element, in the PIEs 2 framework, asks how much opportunity there is for staff - and others - of any service to get actively involved in improving the coherence of the local eco-system of services. This might for example mean encouragement of staff - and others - to attend local forums to discuss needs: 'mapping and gapping'.

NB: When we come to self-assessment of a service, though, using the Pizazz assessment and development process (either on paper or using the PIE Abacus software), the analysis in this section of what helps and hinders can also address what is missing in the local system as a whole. This may be valuable feedback for local managers, funders and commissioners.

Evidence generating practice

Being involved in formal research is fairly rare, and so ‘evidence generating’ in the strict sense of producing publishable research cannot really be set as a hallmark for all PIEs.  But there certainly is a need for more research in the filed of homelessness; and for more of a research-friendly culture in the sector.

More formal research projects and agencies do therefore have a clear place in the new framework as a focus for their efforts. Outcomes measurement and research still has a place here; but recognising the trie complexity of people's underlying needs means the assessment of success, and the overall focus of research, needs to be broader than simply quantifying the outcomes of interventions.


Clustering practice issues

NB: For more on the thinking behind creating this particular cluster of issues theme as a central theme for PIEs, see: 'Learning through enquiry', in the discussions section : HERE





Further background reading/listening/viewing

The other key features of the revised version are then briefly outlined and explored in turn:

    • Psychological awareness ; HERE

      • Empathy and emotional intelligence : HERE
      • Approaches and techniques : HERE
      • Psychological models : HERE

      Training and support : HERE

      Learning and enquiry : HERE

      • Reflective practice : HERE
      • A culture of Enquiry : HERE
      • Sector engagement : HERE
      • Evidence- generating practice : HERE

      Spaces of opportunity : HERE

      • The built environment : HERE
      • Networks and surroundings : HERE
      • Pathways, systems and system coherence : HERE

      The Three Rs : HERE

      • Rules and procedures : HERE
      • Roles and relationships : HERE
      • Responsiveness : HERE


      A lived experience view of PIEs : HERE

      What's the Big Idea?  : HERE

      From PIEs 1 to PIEs 2.0 : HERE

      Will there be a PIEs 3? : HERE

Digging Deeper

Learnig through enquiry : HERE

So: where is 'relationships' in the PIEs 2.0 framework? HERE

For more on the development of these areas,

see: PIEs 2.o - the development process HERE

Also: Pizazz: A new and more customisable working framework for PIEs HERE


Further useful reading/viewing

Implementing a Psychologically Informed Environment in a service for homeless young people HERE

Introducing PIEs through reflective practice in Bristol mental health services HERE

Creating a culture of Inquiry; changing methods – and minds – on the use of evaluation in non-profit organisations HERE

A Whole New World - funding and commissioning in complexity HERE