Pathways, systems and system coherence

The ‘Spaces of opportunity’ theme is about how people move through a service - quite literally, in the case of entrance ways, rooms and corridors - and more metaphorically, in the networks, pathways and 'service eco-systems' that we create, to come to any service by, and to move on to.

It might even be said that a services eco-system is itself 'a built environment'.  But if so, it is an environment of such a different order that it needs treating as a key element in its own right.

*NB: this page is an excerpt from 'The Book of PIE', one of the 'Other writings' : HERE


Hard to engage systems

In recent years, and especially over the last decade, we have seen the arguments of the social model of disability being applied to homelessness, and to the more complex personal and 'psychological' issues that arise with homelessness, or give rise to it.

As early as 2006, the UK government produced a report, called "Reaching out: an action plan on social inclusion(HERE) , which argued that a large part of the problem of so-called 'hard to reach' people with apparently 'complex needs' was as much to do with the inflexibility of services, which allow many people to simply slip out of reach.

This report, along with the thinking behind it and the programmes that it led to (such as the National Social Inclusion Programme for mental health, or 'NSIP', and other programmes in similar vein, such as Supporting People), have been identified as some of the more significant developments in the history and the origins of the PIE approach (HERE).

Since then, a number of national agencies outside of government have attempted to take up the same theme.

The UK Big Lottery's Fulfilling Lives programme (HERE) sought explicitly to fund services that had some prospects of delivering not just innovative individual support models, but vehicles for person-centred service change; the 'systems broker and navigator' (HERE) approaches, for example, or Bristol's 'Golden Key" (HERE) grew from this aspiration.

Yet these well-crafted and well funded efforts also demonstrated the enduring rigidity of the wider systems in which they attempted to introduce more fluidity, with limited success.

More recently we see a chorus of voices calling for system change, not now coming 'top down' from government, but more often 'from the bottom up'.  Some of those comes from 'providers'; and some from those thinkers and activists who work with the support 'provider' services.


Calls for system change - the theory

Some of this rethinking critique comes from quite 'high level' thinking. Joy MacKeith's recent Enabling Help report (HERE)  pinpoints four dominant ways of thinking that have led to unhelpful or 'disabling' service provision.

More broadly still, as an equally forensic critique of misguided paradigms of expertise, the Cynefyn framework (HERE) identifies the dysfunctional results when the wrong approach to expert knowledge in decision-making is applied in circumstances where it does not go

The Human Learning Systems (HERE) similarly mounts a powerful critique of the impact of New Public Management in this area, and on the commissioning culture - 'the purchaser/provider split', that then seeks simple, marketable solutions to complex, systemic problems. Instead, HLS advocates for trust and constructive dialogue between planners and services.


Calls for system change - the practice


Further links and background

The built environment : HERE 

Networks and surroundings : HERE


What is 'an environment'? : HERE

A PIE of pathways : HERE

A 'PIE of pathways' : HERE

Whole systems as PIEs : HERE

Commissioning : HERE

Can smarter commissioning help to encourage PIEs? : HERE

The case for an against a 'PIEs 3' : HERE

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


Where are relationships in PIEs 2.0? : 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