• Simon George Bell Open University, UK
  • Stephen Morse


Triple Task, soft system, reflective practice, stakeholder participation, Symlog


The European Union Framework Package 7 project POINT (Policy Influence of Indicators) is exploring the use of indicators in several domains (most specifically sustainable development) in order to see how their value and ultimate usefulness can be maximised. One key aspect of POINT is to assess the ways in which groups and communities work to gain greatest use of information. Using an innovative methodology called „Triple Task‟, the authors are applying a three cornered approach in order to gain an understanding as to how groups work, how they assesses themselves and how they appear to function from an external perspective.
In this paper, the three stages of Triple Task are described and explored. Task One is effectively an adapted „soft systems‟ approach, encouraging a group to work together on problem identification and action planning. Task 2 is a reflective, „outside in‟, external review of group dynamics which makes use of the „BECM‟ matrix for group systemic assessment first developed by the Systems Group at the UK Open University. Task 3 is an „inside-out‟ self-reflective group analysis applying the well-known SYMLOG method. By use of a tri-analysis involving both qualitative and quantitative approaches, the authors show how during Triple Task managed events a „story‟ emerges of group learning and development and, how a potential diagnostic tool for educing purposeful group behaviour has emerged. The research is in its early stages, but following the analysis of numerous groups from a range of sectors from across the European Union the authors are gaining clarity over what features are most consistent between purposeful group behaviour and group makeup. This is leading towards the development of a „Triple Task‟ heuristic device for measuring and even predicting the systemic and reflective capacities of specific groups and communities and this could in turn result in means for improving participative effectiveness in a wide range of social engagements.

Author Biography

Simon George Bell, Open University, UK

Senior Lecturer

Communication and Systems Dpt. 



How to Cite

Bell, S. G., & Morse, S. (2010). TRIPLE TASK AND THE PHILOSOPHERS STONE: DISCOVERING A METHODOLOGY FOR SYSTEMIC AND REFLECTIVE PARTICIPATION. Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2010, Waterloo, Canada, 54(1). Retrieved from