"How's things?" - the coffee break Pizazz

The Pizazz assessment, since it was published in pen-and-paper form in 2017, is proving an effective way to operationalise the PIEs approach and specifically the PIEs 2 framework. It uses the five stage service review approach that we had 'borrowed' from education, and the iAbacus software; and we have now amalgamated the two, with the PIE Abacus - the Pizazz in software. (See: Why is it called the PIE Abacus: HERE).

But as the PIE Abacus is integrated with the full PIEs 2 framework, which itself has five 'Big Themes' and another fifteen or so more specific areas of focus, it can look a tad complicated; and may be quite daunting for those just at the start of the journey.

So to bring it all down to earth and de-mystify it a little, it may be helpful to separate out the two, to see how we can also use the Pizazz process in a very 'light touch' fashion.  Let's see how you can manage a Pizazz assessment, informally, in just a few minutes; and in ordinary English.

Let's imagine you run into an old friend or former colleague, quite casually, at a cafe; or a bus stop; or wherever.  So you ask:

  • "How's things?"

Your friend replies; and maybe it's a bit of a mixed picture. So you go on to ask:

  • "So what's actually happening then?"
  • "What's stopping you?"
  • "And what have you got going for you, that could help?"
  • "So - what are you thinking to do then?"

And then you might even suggest:

  • 'Let's talk again, some time soon, to see how it all went.'

And that's it.

We are always saying that the PIE approach is not a new list of things you must do, but a way of looking at what you do do, that allows you to see it more clearly, and then decide what you want to do.  So here is a PIE'd way of seeing that simple, supportive conversation.

Right there you have all the five stages - the 'initial assessment', the 'evidence', the 'diagnosis' of helping and hindering factors, the 'action plan' - including the peer review. Fifteen minutes should do it.

That's the coffee break Pizazz.

To be sure, it might well help to have in mind the key areas in complex needs services, that we have picked out, in the PIEs 2 framework; given more time, it may help to go into more detail. There may be ideas, examples, suggestions there that might be useful.

But as we've said, in the pages on peer review (HERE) - just do what you can.

But for the full framework....

NB: All Pizazz documentation is found in the PIElink members' Library. To access this and any other content in the Library, it is necessary to register as a member.

The basic Pizazz assessment summary sheets are  HERE

The Pizazz Handbook, 'Useful questions',  is HERE

Pizazz assessment levels guidance is HERE

Advice for Pizazz assessment facilitators is HERE

Creative Commons licence terms are HERE


The Pizazz also come in two formats - the 'pen and paper' format, and the electronic/on-line format, known as the PIE Abacus.

The 'pen and paper' format is suitable for simpler and smaller services, where getting round a table to meet and discuss face-to-face is an option.

The electronic/on-line format ( the "PIE Abacus') is geared for more complex and/or larger services, organisations and networks, where face-to-face meeting is impractical.

For the PIE Abacus, see: The PIE Abacus - an online Pizazz 


NB: The PIE Abacus now comes in two forms - the short and the long form (a language borrowed from Tai Chi).

The short form is particularly recommended for services that are up-to-speed with the PIEs approach, but have very limited time; or are still only at the outset of their journey of development as PIEs.

The long form allows services to drill down in finer detail into their assessment and process. It is more useful for those services that have come some way already, and wish to go further.

See: Which form of the Pizazz is right for our service?


For a note on current and future costs of using the Pizazz, see: Pizazz costs