Public services can be effective, affordable and sustainable; the key is understanding complexity. Our unique approach to solving complex problems combines insight, innovation, a discovery mindset and a genuine commitment to better outcomes. It is called EDGEWORK.
EDGEWORK enables us and our clients to move beyond the conventional ways of seeing a problem. By redefining the edges of systems, we have changed behaviours, shaped public demand and improved outcomes while reducing costs.
EDGEWORK is our philosophy and our methodology. It is:
- a framework explaining how and why we see local public services differently
- a set of unique Inventive Methods – our applied tools and techniques
- a language to describe this approach.
A brief history
Our clients often tell us that we "just get it", that we can "get teams to do things they won't do" or that they partner with us "to tackle the difficult stuff". But what does this feedback really mean?
We have always seen public services, particularly front-line public services, as complex social systems where people are the key drivers of complexity. To try to simplify complex issues, other consultants often draw narrow boundaries and act within silos. Within these silos, designing improved linear processes imported from the private sector is relatively straightforward, but can only deliver limited change.
At iMPOWER, we believe that the key to sustainable, effective and affordable public service reform is managing the complexity within systems. We are the experts in this field. We understand that responsibilities within complex systems are distributed across boundaries, and that success depends on creating effective relationships across those boundaries to deliver sustained behaviour change. This approach often requires reframing problems at the outset to ensure that we are working towards sustainable solutions rather than fire-fighting. We also apply our inventive methods – our unique tools and techniques – which have been developed through almost 20 years of insight in the public sector.
Therefore, when clients acknowledge that we are different, they are really saying that we have a more sophisticated understanding of the complexity of public services, that we reframe problems, and that we apply our unique insights and inventive methods to drive sustainable change.
How did EDGEWORK get its name?
iMPOWER specialises in addressing complex problems that move through and cut across wider systems. By definition, they involve, influence or affect a wide range of people, and organisations and public services, linked together and interacting in ways that are not always obvious.
EDGEWORK redefines the edges of systems.
One of the biggest challenges when working within any system is establishing limits or boundaries. Our approach is to draw those boundaries beyond what is immediately under direct control to include spheres of influence, but not drawing the boundaries so broadly that they become meaningless.