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Pioneering systems-led design: bushing the boundaries of design

By

  • Australian Taxation Office (Lead designers based in Melbourne)

Description

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) faces increasingly complex challenges as custodians and administrators of the taxation and superannuation systems. It represents a vast and interconnected network of businesses, data, money and people; their reach extends to all Australians by providing the revenue that underpins our way of life. Recently, the ATO also plays a leading role in Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

In order to respond to this complexity, the ATO needed to transform the way it understood the systems it is custodians of, and design and embed changes. To do this, it has developed and is pioneering systems-led design.

Key Features

1

Systems-led design aims to balance idealism and pragmatism, and is therefore about balancing functionality with quality and sustainability, both in its philosophy and approach as a practice, and in the way it deals with complex challenges.

The ATO undertook a co-design process to develop a tailored, systemic design framework.. It also understood that in order to successfully embed and gain benefits from the practice, it needed to change its environment. As such, redesign of culture occurred, integration of SLD into the organization’s governance and change processes and enterprise strategies.

2

Systems-led design sets a new benchmark for design. It is one of the few widely-adopted forms of systemic design (a new emerging field of design) across a large, government organisation in the Victoria, and the world. It has already demonstrated immense impacts in the ATO, including in COVID economic recovery and the organisaitonal strategy.

Furthermore, it has already advanced the profession of design in Victoria, Australia and the world, with universities (RMIT/UTS), private agencies (including Melbourne’s portable, and other private agencies), government (SA, VIC DELWP, VIC government etc) internationally (systemic design community Norway, Finnish Tax Administration) etc.
Having spoken in a collaborative session with RMIT university on SLD, we have already demonstrated the advancement of the reputation of the speakers, and the practice to Victoria’s design professionalism and innovation.

Since releasing the SLD guide, we have had hundreds of people contact us to help us build this capability in their space.

https://www.themandarin.com.au/136615-introducing-the-atos-systems-led-design-guide/

3

Systems-led design sets a new benchmark for design. It is one of the few widely-adopted forms of systemic design (a new emerging field of design) across a large, government organisation in the Victoria, and the world. It has already demonstrated immense impacts in the ATO, including in COVID economic recovery and the organisaitonal strategy.

Furthermore, it has already advanced the profession of design in Victoria, Australia and the world, with universities (RMIT/UTS), private agencies (including Melbourne’s portable, and other private agencies), government (SA, VIC DELWP, VIC government etc) internationally (systemic design community Norway, Finnish Tax Administration) etc.

Having spoken in a collaborative session with RMIT university on SLD, we have already demonstrated the advancement of the reputation of the speakers, and the practice to Victoria’s design professionalism and innovation.

Since releasing the SLD guide, we have had hundreds of people contact us to help us build this capability in their space.

Guide: https://www.themandarin.com.au/136615-introducing-the-atos-systems-led-design-guide/

4

This project is incredibly innovative. While the ‘glass-ceiling’ or design in its ability to deal with complex system problems have been articulated in the literature and practitioners alike, no government agency or large organisation has been identified that has integrated systems thinking into its design practice. The promise of systems thinking is far reaching, but has not yet been widely applied either, thus making this SLD approach innovative in many ways. It has been designed by us, for us, and is now being looked at to be adopted nationally and internationally.
https://www.themandarin.com.au/136615-introducing-the-atos-systems-led-design-guide/
The ground breaking design features is related to systems thinking and foresight as well as BI to really deepen drivers of users. Furthermore, it doesn’t just focus on a user group (common complaint of HCD), but really deals with plurality of users, and recognizes design for one may have adverse impacts for others. It is used to respond to the most unprecedented circumstances Melbournians are facing, and all of Australia.

This has been applied to the covid stimulus measures, allowing us to see more holistically the cumulative impacts on the system and ripple effects, allowing us to design each measure with more information than we had. We have also used this to redesign our organisational functions to better support the emergent property of workforce capability.

By embedding SLD, it has really set the ATO up to be future-focused, and to think systemically to allow it to grow, build capability and design better outcomes for the whole community – core to design strategy.

5

Systems-led design is a philosophy and practice, comprised of a model, principles and tools. The Guide can be accessed here: https://www.themandarin.com.au/136615-introducing-the-atos-systems-led-design-guide/

– we have also included: capability building to help designers feel equipped, ensured designers know the why so they are motivated, and provided designers with the right culture and space to feel empowered.

– it is now part of the Chief Executive Instructions of design change in the organisation.

– Finally, the SLD guide, as well as the cases applied go through thorough SLD approach and was designed by its users as well.

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