Drawing on international best practice, Genio applies an action research method to informing the rollout of complex change efforts where problems are intertwined and there are strong, differing views across stakeholders about the nature of the problem and the ways in which it should be addressed. 

In the areas of homelessness, mental health, disability, dementia and addiction there are services that are often seeking to provide greater choice and adapt to more effective approaches. However, staff are often struggling to implement multiple competing objectives and senior management usually have urgent, emerging crises that they need to respond to. 

Action research uses a cyclical method to promote shared problem-solving and focuses on resolving implementation challenges in ‘real-time’ as they emerge.

Using interviews and focus groups Genio facilitates discussions using themes drawn from the perceptions from senior and frontline staff to discuss opportunities and challenges during implementation. When challenges emerge they are rapidly surfaced and discussed. A key component of the approach is to help social services to bring people using the services into the heart of the reform effort by building processes to listen to and respond to their perspective and choices. For further detail see an article by Genio in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Academic context

The Action Research method adopted by Genio draws heavily on the work of international experts such as Professor David Coghlan. Genio also draws heavily on the Adaptive Leadership concept developed by Ron Heifetz at Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. In addition, the approach also draws on concepts of institutional theory to understand why ingrained beliefs and practices exist in fields and to understand how these beliefs and practices can be purposefully changed.

The Service Reform Fund Action Research team have close links with the Centre for Social Innovation at Trinity College Dublin and a number of staff have adjunct appointments with Trinity. This emphasis on maintaining close linkages with academic institutions ensures that staff stay abreast of emerging best practice in the field.

Complex Systems Change

19-21 Westland Square
Pearse St., Dublin 2, D02 YH27, Ireland
Phone +353 1 707 1700
Email [email protected]