PIE Abacus pilots, phase 1: preliminary conclusions

PIE Abacus pilots, Spring & Summer 2019
Preliminary conclusions and proposed survey questions.

This is a preliminary round up of the experience of all those who took part in the pilots, and have given feedback in email form, in advance of a more systematic survey.

NB: the main proviso in this ‘assessment of an assessment’ process is that we can’t know about those who did not reply to the requests for feedback; let alone from all those who did not take up the offer to be part of the pilots. But the feedback we DO have possibly allows us to read between the lines, to a limited extent.


• The basic iAbacus process is welcomed, and works smoothly, with perhaps some small changes in detail that some folk have suggested.
• The terminology of PIEs 2.0 seems to fit well with the iAbacus approach
• Some have nevertheless found some of the language more perplexing
• The purpose of self-assessment does not seem to have been seen as threatening.
• The process is generally seen as constructive in itself

• The ‘Pizazz on paper’ is more accessible, to some, for technology reasons
• The ‘Pizazz on paper’ is more accessible, to some, for other reasons
• Being able to run a Pizazz on paper and then in-put that to an Abacus does work
• Those who have used the manual (its not clear how many did) found it helpful

The delays and dilemmas in piloting have tended to be more to do with
o Other pressures, and limitations of staff time
o The timing – some had delays in getting started due to extraneous demands
o Lack of familiarity with the underlying PIEs approach


Preliminary conclusions:

The early feedback from the pilots of the Abacus seems to suggest that it probably works best where folk are already reasonably familiar with the overall approach of PIEs, and with the self-assessment framework.  That does also reflect my own view, that the Abacus is not the place to start ‘the PIE journey’.

It is often better – and more natural - to start with the PIE framework and ideas, and try them on for size, so to speak, in quite informal discussions.  If they make sense and seem to help, only then would I suggest teams trying to assess how far they are down the road; and what they want to do next.  Once they are thinking like that, they are already self-assessing; and the paperwork version and the software just help that process along, with some structure.

But to be really useful and creative, and not just another demand and a burden, it has to be an empowering experience for the staff; so there is some real delicacy in how it is introduced and presented. The training course that will accompany the release of the PIE Abacus will need to make this point.

* which anyone can download and use in a pen-and-paper form (‘the Pizazz on paper’) before trying the PIE Abacus, the software version (‘the Pizazz on screen’).