What I do

Learning Research

The purpose of a learning document, such as a Learning History is to provide a record of development that explores the process of change and what that change means as it develops to the wider system and the individuals within it. That’s about thoughts, feelings and a record of actions as much as the process and outcomes. It provides a valuable reflection of learning that is useful in helping the future system understand what has changed and how and to others undergoing similar processes. It also helps create an awareness of the current change that can be useful in developing the future actions of the change programme.

Much of the learning document is captured through observations and informal conversation in the form of loosely structured interviews, which aim to explore the reflections on what is happening for those involved in the work.

All interviews are treated with the strictest confidentiality. By agreement, the interviews may be recorded and photographed to ensure the researcher has an accurate recollection of the conversation. The data will always be anonymised and will be collated and presented as verbatim quotes. Identifying data will only ever be used with individual permissions.

A Good Conversation…

Perhaps you just need help getting started, or you find yourself stuck along the way? Holding your ideas and dreams in your head can sometimes be a heavy burden, a tangled web and a mire of deep confusion. The unfinished report and the masses of data can be be an overwhelming experience.

Sometimes clients come to Emma a little hesitantly. They have a project, or an idea, or something half finished and they don’t know what to do with it, or they’re stuck, or are  overwhelmed by the complexity of the chaos before them. These commissions are often very small, perhaps just half a day. Beginning with a mail, a call, Emma will talk through what the client wants from their work. What their hopes are, where they are now. Working with the client, exploring together their existing  data and research, Emma will help guide them through to discover their own path forwards.

Emma is more than happy to pick up your work with you along the way. She will assess where you’re up to, offering a listening ear alongside a questioning insight built on her experience and knowledge. This is often all that you need to get yourself started, to find your own direction for your work.


If you’ve got qualitative data, and aren’t sure what to do with it, need to make sense of it, develop a framework to work from, need a book framework, or  a frame in which to present a proposal, or even need your material writing up, then Emma can help.

Emma often works helping develop formal book or report frameworks for private clients wishing to author their own material. These clients have included a globally well known company who provide digital and social media consulting and coaching, and a private consortium who host an acclaimed innovation podcast and whom are publishing a book concerned with intrapreneurship and innovation in organisations.

These commissions require Emma to read, analyse and  synthesise reams of data from across a variety of sources. Looking for pattern, sense-making, and finding the potential of the human voice within them. She then created formal frameworks to enable her clients to develop and hold their own extended material. Typically such projects take around 2 days.


In addition Emma also works from scratch, being involved with clients in change programs, or those seeking to understand the human process of change from their very first steps, designing and conducting bespoke qualitative research projects to support change makers.

Emma will collect original research materials through a variety of methods, such as interviews, (in person or via phone, Skype, or email),  group observations or questionnaires. She will also assess the data and  formally present the research in written or electronic format.

Final reports are often ghost written by Emma and are presented in a variety of different formats, including learning histories, web resources or as formal written documents.

Emma often works on large projects writing or ghost writing reports from research that has already been collated by the client: Change makers who need reports…

This may involve simple short reports of just one or two pages, ordering questionnaire results, writing conference reports, short overviews of change programmes and the lessons held within them, or larger reports of several thousand words collated over several months.

Open Innovation research. Analysing the qualitative data from a long term Open Innovation intervention across four European cities and writing a comprehensive report that captured the nature of the interventions, successes and difficulties and progress to date.

Systems Leadership programme support with clients including; Leading Communities and Big Blue Experience ltd. Collating information and compiling reports to support systems leadership work within local bodies, councils and health boards. (Systems leadership work includes work under the Local Vision programme and support to the Health and Social Care Integration Pioneers and NHS(E) Vanguards).


Research and Writing

Emma also works with clients in the development of research programmes that are inclusive of the change programme that they are in, as well as writing and presenting the research material in a variety of different formats.

The Leadership Centre; ‘The Art of Change Making’. This ambitious programme sought to capture all the learning and approaches used by ‘enablers’ in their work on complex social issues. Having identified the approaches, I researched their original sources and produced over 70 descriptive summaries that enable those new to this sort of work to understand their essence. I was required to liaise with the enablers to capture from them examples of the practice being used. I was also involved in the overall shape and design of the finished document, which runs to some 280 pages and has been exceptionally well received.

Cornwall County Council; The Food and Cornwall Programme. Emma’s role was to research and produce the Learning History report for this ambitious programme whose aim was to ensure; ‘no-one in Cornwall goes hungry’. The brief included rounds of interviews with professionals from the local accountable bodies, local business leaders, ‘celebrity chefs’ and users of and organisers of food banks.She then collated this data within a Learning History format for publication.

Other information

Emma is based in the South West of England, she typically work remotely, drawing on material submitted electronically and where appropriate through structured telephone interviews. This allows her to accept both UK and international commissions. Such commissions are often immediate and Emma is happy to undertake work that only needs an hour as well as those big projects that require months.

Emma is always willing to take on commissions in this field. Her ideal work asks her to be curious about a social situation, to observe, to question, to slowly see the bits fall into place and then be able to capture that in a way that helps others make new sense of it. This has made her a valuable addition to people’s change programmes; sometimes we get so caught up in our own story and enthusiasm we miss what others are feeling, thinking and saying. Emma has a knack of quietly getting to the heart of this.


contact Emma Loftus at ejlresearch