The Pizazz : What is it NOT?

With the release, at Easter 2021, of the PIE Abacus, the on-line version of the Pizazz, it is time to repeat the comment in the original publication announcement, that spelled out what the Pizazz on paper was NOT trying to do.

"After many months of discussions and development, we are finally able to announce to all PIElink members the release of the PIES self-assessment and service specification – a.k.a the PizazzAnd it’s entirely free, to all registered PIElink members; and to all you may share it with.

As always, you will find the full documentation, and all the background, on the PIElink; and we’d recommend that you start here: Pizazz pages (on the PIELink)

But for this announcement, we have here a VERY brief introduction to what the Pizazz does, and doesn’t, do:

  • What IS the Pizazz?
  • What is it NOT?
  • Why is it called 'Pizazz'?
  • How come it’s free?
  • Also….

What IS the Pizazz?

The Pizazz is an approach and an assessment framework especially suited for services that must cater effectively for individuals who may be chronically or multiply excluded, traumatised and stigmatised, where extra care is needed as to how the service as a whole works, to meet those needs.

The Pizazz is a ‘distance travelled’ measure. It does not take an ‘either/or’ approach to development as a PIE; instead it allows services to ask themselves how far they have come already; and what they mean to do now.

Despite the title, the Pizazz actually offers far more than a simple ‘point in time’, snap shot assessment. It also asks useful questions about what helps and hinders a service's development; and what action the service can then take, to build on strengths and tackle problems. It then becomes a change management tool, and not just a static, one-off assessment.

The Pizazz is also designed to prompt and facilitate a more informed discussion between service providers and funders; between frontline staff and Head Office; and also for researchers, looking at the nature and/or the effectiveness of particular aspects of the PIEs approach. (For more on the development, and the need for this approach, see the HomelessLink blog: 'PIEs ten years on: where are we now?'  which is HERE.)

What is it NOT?

  • An outcomes evaluation measure
  • An accreditation process
  • A PIEs instructions manual

Outcomes evaluation.
The Pizazz aims to assess the extent to which any service has developed, and wants to develop, as a PIE. For those services that are commissioned according to expectations of specific outcomes, you will still need to discuss appropriate outcome measures with your funders. (For more, see : Evaluation by outcomes : HERE)

The Pizazz is a self-assessment process, with peer-review as its final stage, rather than reference to any external assessor.  Focussed on ‘horizontal’, peer-to-peer accountability, it is intended as a constructive community of practice alternative to ‘authoritative’ accreditation. (For more, see : PIE accreditation? : HERE)

For those services that actually do want to have some form of external, authoritative assessment, we tend to recommend the Enabling Environments award, managed by the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists, as being the closest both in spirit and in range. ( See: Enabling Environments on the PIElink, HERE)

A PIEs instructions manual
The Pizazz does not tell you how to be a PIE. Instead, it asks for your own views on 'where you are at'. But it comes with a Handbook (also free: HERE) of “Useful questions”.

You are certainly entitled to take these questions as an indication as to the kind of things that may make a PIE. But it’s an indication only – you will have to think for yourselves about how relevant those questions are for your service. And then come up with your own answers, and further questions of your own. (See : Questions : HERE)

PS: On the PIElink you will find plenty more illustrations, issues, case studies, commentaries – enough inspiration for any service to get started on the process.



Further background reading/listening/viewing

PIElink pages

The Pizazz - on paper or on screen : HERE

The Pizazz - a new and fully customisable framework for PIEs assessment: HERE


The paperwork (for the Pizazz on paper)

The basic Pizazz assessment summary sheets :  HERE

The Pizazz Handbook, 'Useful questions' : HERE

Pizazz assessment levels guidance :  HERE

Advice for Pizazz assessment facilitators : HERE

Creative Commons licence terms :  HERE


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


The PIE Abacus

The simplest, most effective way to evaluate and improve your PIE from Daniel O'Brien on Vimeo.

The PIE Abacus - an on-line Pizazz (summary) : HERE

Getting started with an Abacus account : HERE