PIEs 3 - the case for and against

Will there - could there and should there – be a PIEs 3 at some point?

There are good arguments both for and against introducing even the possibility of a PIEs 3, at this stage.


Arguments for a revised version

(1) The world has moved on, since PIEs 2 was published, and the calls for systems change are growing louder; and more pervasive and more clearly articulated than they were in 2006, 2015, 2017.  The momentum for system change is rising.

As more services start to engage with this at all levels, including questioning the hand that feeds them, and the PIEs frameworks needs to reflect and support that as clearly as possible.

(2) There is considerable evidence that commissioners and funders and policy makers think it’s not about them. The hierarchical assumption built into NPM leads then to think that a PIE is what they expect of other services, a long way down the chain of command.

A much clearer statement of direction for commissioners and policy makers may be needed, and a new version of the PIEs framework that speaks directly to their concerns and needs may help to make the point more clear…

(3) Finally, with the author and prime mover of the PIEs approach, PIElink editor Robin Johnson, proposing to stand back after this year and let others take the reins, it is helpful to have his endorsement and his particular thoughts on this, at this stage.

This is at least a good time to tap into his knowledge of the policy frameworks, based on his earlier experience with the National Social Inclusion Programme.


Arguments against

(1)  Any change is destabilising; many services and most policy makers have not yet even come to terms with there being a PIEs 2.   Any change would be uneven as it spread, which might add to confusion lower down the line.

(2) One of the ambitions and strengths in the design of PIEs 2 is the breadth, combined with 'customisability', the capacity to translate the framework into the specific language and issues in many different sectors.

To suggest a  framework specifically for commissioners and policy makers could cut across and undermine the value of having the same framework for all.

NB: The PIE Abacus has all the same customisability and more. Although we would have to recommend some care in how any modified version might be used, issuing further advice is readily done.

(3) The forums on ‘Top-to-toe embedding’ seem to suggest that efforts to spread the PIEs approach to senior management team and Board level in the more progressive of organisations are already quite successful. Though this does not so far tend to extend to commissioners, it potentially could.



Taken together, these arguments for and against might lead us to conclude that it is better for the moment to stretch the existing PIEs 2 framework to cover local commissioners; and perhaps also to find the language that conveys the PIEs approach to policy makers via a revised or specialist version of the Handbook - 'Useful questions' (HERE).

In that, it is on a level with other suggested areas where a more customised version of the Handbook's questions might be useful - such as a service user-friendly vocabulary (HERE); and a version more specific to Housing First (HERE) and other outreach/in-reach work (HERE and HERE)

For the moment, then, that is the state of play. The next page in this series (HERE) therefore starts to explore  where the significant changes might best sit, in locating system change efforts even within the current PIEs 2.0 framework.



Further background reading, listening and viewing

PIElink pages

PIEs 3 - in detail : HERE

PIEs 1,2 - and 3?: HERE

Is the PIE evolving? : HERE

A single framework : HERE

Rigidity and system change : HERE

Customising the PIE Abacus : HERE

The PIE Abacus - text and video briefings for PIE leads : HERE


PIElink library

A new and fully customisable framework for PIEs : HERE

Pizazz : A new and more customisable framework for PIEs assessment: HERE

Do complex needs need complex need services? (Part One)  : HERE

Do complex needs need complex need services? (Part Two)  : HERE


Like-minded agencies and resources

Lankelly Chase : HERE

Human Learning Systems : HERE

Nesta : Alliance for Useful Evidence : HERE

Nesta : Re-imagining Help : HERE

Triangle/Outcome Star/Enabling Help : HERE