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Triple Task Method: Systemic, Reflective Action Research


This brief article introduces a new methodology for systemic action research—Triple Task (TT)—and sets out its rationale and initial progress in becoming an embedded method for group working. Arising from the authors previous work with soft systems approaches, the Imagine method for sustainable development assessment and action research in a variety of global locations, TT provides a means for groups to engage together in purposive work and, at the same time, for facilitators to understand how the dynamic of the group influences the groups output. TT is based on an ambitious concept and at the time of writing the results of TT applied in the context of an EU Framework 7 funded project are in their early stages but importantly, significant insights are already arising including the answers to some puzzling questions:

  • Do purposeful groups always produce the most insightful outcomes?

  • Do conflictual groups produce incoherent results?

  • What makes a ‘good’ group?

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  1. The authors are aware of the danger of a research method presenting as a means to extract data and not share findings in partnership between researcher and researched. The ‘do-it-yourself’ version of TT will help to address this concern. Much more will be said about this in subsequent papers.


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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under the Grant Agreement No. 217207 (POINT Project,

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Correspondence to Simon Bell.

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Bell, S., Morse, S. Triple Task Method: Systemic, Reflective Action Research. Syst Pract Action Res 23, 443–452 (2010).

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  • Triple task method
  • Participatory approaches
  • Action research