Outcomes & CO

conversation openers
Published in Tools on 8 May 2017

Outcomes & CO: conversation openers was created to support practitioners and managers across the social services sector reflect on their views, values and experiences of a personal outcomes approach. Personal outcomes are defined as what matter to people accessing support and their unpaid carers (adult and young).

Outcomes & CO provides a framework for open, honest conversations about personal outcomes. It does this by supporting reflective practice and building common understanding. It is flexible and can used or adapted for a range of audiences, including health and housing.

This tool builds on a range of resources developed by Iriss and partners to support an outcomes-focused approach in the social services sector, in particular, the Leading for Outcomes series (Iriss, 2010-2013) and the Values and Principles Paper developed by the Personal Outcomes Network. A list of other resources referenced in the tool are also available.

The design of this tool was inspired by Relationships Matter (Iriss, 2016), a conversation tool to support practitioners reflect on caring for young people who are leaving care.

Outcomes & CO - printed set

Anticipated outcomes

  • Increased awareness and understanding of the key components involved in a  personal outcomes approach
  • Improved understanding of the landscape in which a personal outcomes approach exists
  • Improved awareness and understanding of the views, values and experience of a personal outcomes approach for individuals and teams
  • Shared understanding of an outcomes-focused approach across teams and between practitioners, the people they support and their unpaid carers
  • Increased confidence about understanding and practising an outcomes-focused approach
  • Improved reflective practice


This tool comprises seven themes, each with a set of related questions. A set of information cards outline the building blocks of the personal outcomes approach. The information cards are relevant across the themes and aim to foreground the questions. These can be used as stand-alone conversation prompts or background reading before using the tool.

Outcomes & CO cards closeup of question sets
Outcomes & CO - question sets

There are no right or wrong ways to use the tool. It is flexible and can be used in a variety of ways, for example, by individuals, in one-to-one or group supervision, or in learning and development sessions. We strongly encourage you to use examples from your own practice and experience to help you relate to the questions. Overall, the questions assume a working knowledge of an outcomes-focused approach. In cases where there is limited hands-on experience, the questions should be adapted to encourage reflection on anticipated actions, reactions and responses.

Three simple steps to use the cards:

  • Choose an individual question / group of questions or an information card
  • Use the question / information card to encourage reflection and or discussion
  • Consider how you / your organisation will action the learning from your reflections and conversations
Outcomes & CO - information cards
Outcomes & CO - information cards

Get the tool

In addition to the downloadable version of the Outcomes & CO tool on this page, we also have a small supply of full printed sets available.

If you'd like to request a pack, please use the form available on this page and we will post your pack out.

We may contact you to find out how you used the tool and for any feedback.


It is important for us to understand the difference our tools make to inform how we work and what we focus on. We invite you to share your feedback via this short survey.

Based on survey feedback gathered between May and October 2017, we did an inital evaluation of Outcomes & CO which gave us some valuable insights and tested some of the anticipated outcomes. The evaluation highlighted the range of people in the sector using the tool, how they used it and what they learned.

​ Outcomes & CO - sample card
​ Outcomes & CO - sample card


Grateful thanks to Emma Miller (University of Strathclyde) and Moira Oliphant (Scottish Government) for their contributions to the development of this tool.

Would you like to learn more?
We offer hosted sessions expanding on our tools and their use. Contact services@iriss.org.uk for more information.