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EDGEWORK is IMPOWER's unique approach to understanding and delivering change in complex systems. If you are new to EDGEWORK and difference between complex and complicated problems, the video below provides a simple introduction.

Public services can be effective, affordable and sustainable; the key is working with complexity, not against it.

Taking an EDGEWORK approach enables our partners to:

  • Identify the many new opportunities to improve outcomes and save money
  • Create real confidence in seizing those opportunities
  • Deliver savings at a scale that makes a real difference
  • Build resilience to deal with changes in demand or resources


The EDGEWORK Manifesto

The EDGEWORK Manifesto makes the case for a new approach to public sector leadership and consultancy. The culmination of 20 years of working at the frontline of change in the public sector, the book explores why smart, dedicated and experienced public sector leaders find it difficult to make measurable and sustainable improvements within their systems.

We clarify the difference between ‘complicated’ and ‘complex’ issues, build on our own innovations and experience, draw on the latest academic thinking about complex systems, and explain why better outcomes should cost less.

One of the biggest challenges when working within any complex system is establishing limits or boundaries. Using EDGEWORK, we draw boundaries beyond what is immediately under direct control to include spheres of influence, but not drawing boundaries so broadly that they become meaningless.

Controllable System: Too narrow

The Controllable System encompasses elements of the system where an individual public sector leader has direct command and control over staff, services and spending decisions.

Influenceable System: Refined system edge

The Influenceable System is chosen by the individual public sector leader and is the additional space in which they have practical influence over activities beyond the controllable boundary. Elements in the influenceable system might be in a different part of the organisation, in a different part of the public sector, in the wider community or just down the corridor from their own office.

Whole System: Too wide

The Whole System stretches beyond the influenceable boundary and includes people, policies and activities which are part of the same system but where the individual public sector leader has no practical or useful ability to influence them. This might include the mainstream media, central government policy or demographic changes.

An Example of Controllable and Influenceable Systems: SEND Transport

The actions of myriad groups, organisations and individuals impact on the provision of transport for children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). A Director of Children’s Services must therefore consider a wide range of stakeholders, some of whom work in the controllable system but most of whom work in the influenceable space.

An Example of Controllable and Influenceable Systems: SEND Transport

Work with us

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss the challenges your organisation is facing.