The iAbacus® Story

This is the story of iAbacus, its foundation in research and development, a summary of the process, and how it transforms the way people plan for and sustain success.

What is iAbacus?

iAbacus is an online, self-evaluation and strategic planning tool.


Thousands of individuals, teams and organisations worldwide, are using it to look at what they do with a view to doing it better.


Users plot ability, achievement, output or performance against criteria as they plan and implement improvements. From quality assurance to operational efficiency, the process works for a whole range of evaluation and improvement needs.


It’s attractive, with the visual interpretation of a physical abacus. It saves users time and effort as they progress, intuitively, through simple software. The proven and research-based improvement process is reliable and compelling. 


“Staff knew they had to self-evaluate but didn’t know how - iAbacus showed them how. As we went through each screen, it was collecting our thinking and producing a cumulative report to print off and share! It’s a blessed relief from wading through pages of Word document plans.” Jill Boyle, Headteacher 2012

Why and how was iAbacus created?

iAbacus was launched in 2012 but the story began in 1970 when John Pearce embarked on five decades of success across senior posts in education, public services, business and the charity sector. John’s practical experience (strengthened by his university research, published academic writing and consultancy) led him to design a deceptively simple sequence of activities that enabled effective self-evaluation and success planning. He called it the Abacus.

Using an early abacus

The Abacus process replicated a traditional abacus with single beads moving, left to right, representing increased levels of achievement. Users plotted their performance against known standards as they planned and implemented improvements. The kinaesthetic simplicity and focus it offered was well received and John received requests to share the approach more widely, in business and charity sectors.

Daniel & John at the AWARDS

In 2010 John met Daniel O’Brien, a successful pioneer in internet technology. As John described the self-evaluation activities, Daniel instantly realised Abacus could be transformed into a powerful software tool. Their partnership blossomed and in 2012 the iAbacus was launched. It was heralded as a unique and transformational software tool and in 2014 it gained official recognition as a Bett Awards finalist, as a piece of ‘genuinely innovative ICT provision and support’.

What is unique about the iAbacus process?

The iAbacus is founded on proven leadership and development methodologies, and over 50 years of experience applying them. It’s unique because it combines all of these into one simple, logical sequence.

Users (an individual, team or organisation) are asked straightforward and emotionally intelligent questions within each step of the software.

  • How well are we doing? 

  • What’s our evidence?

  • What’s helping and hindering success?

  • So, what will we be doing to drive improvement?

As iAbacus users answer these questions they become increasingly aware of what success means and how they can achieve it.
iAbacus begins with users making a judgement about their performance. Judgements are checked against agreed criteria, secured with evidence and then a deep analysis of factors affecting performance informs the planning.
In the strong tradition of <action research> iAbacus recognises that receiving a judgement and having a detailed plan, are no guarantee of future success. It is the implementation and subsequent review of plans that makes iAbacus transformational.