Introducing the ATO’s systems-led design guide

By Misha Kaur

Friday July 31, 2020

We all have character strengths (aka superpowers) (Adobe)

If you have been following along the journey for the last year, you would know that here in the ATO we have been pioneering systems-led design. This transdisciplinary approach to equips us to deal with the complexity of the systems we work in – a challenge many of you will understand.

In my last post I talked about how hard it can be to implement systems-led thinking. It’s a big undertaking, and you’d be forgiven for wondering ‘Why is there no instruction manual for this!?’

Well, I’ve got good news – now there is! Allow me to present the ATO systems-led design guide.

OK, so it’s not an instruction manual per se – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to thinking and designing systemically. But this tailored guide, produced as a playbook for our own teams here the ATO, provides some great insight into how we bring a systems-led perspective to the way we design and embed change. It lays out the thinking that underpins our approach, including our model, principles, and some handy tools and techniques.

So what makes the ATO so special? Why is our experience worth learning from?

Well when it comes to scale and complexity, it doesn’t get much bigger than the tax and super systems. These systems represent a vast and complicated network of businesses, data, money and people; their reach extends to all Australians by providing the revenue that underpins our way of life. This has never been more true than now, as the ATO plays a leading role in Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19 by administering some of the most significant government support measures.

This means that every day we are faced with new and unique challenges, as we navigate this complex interplay of factors to protect the health of a vast, interconnected system. For the ATO, systems-led thinking isn’t a luxury – it’s a must-have.

So while we’ve still got a way to go on our journey towards systems-led design, I think we’ve got a lot of experience to share – experience that you can learn from. We know that we are not alone in the challenges we face, and that many public sector agencies are looking to systemic thinking and contemporary approaches as a solution. We hope that the insights we can share from our experience will help you along your own journey.

Have a read of the guide, and let us know how you go applying systems-led thinking in your organisation.

I would like to acknowledge and say a huge thank you to my amazing ATO Design Branch for collectively bringing systems-led design to life. Special acknowledgement to Rob Tristram, Nathan Baird, Gareth Rydon, Vic Casson, Moh Nur, Luke Craven and Susan Cullen for their leadership, as well as our friends and partners, including Toby Lowe, Katie Stubley, LUMA Institute, Birger Sevaldson and many others nationally and internationally who have given us inspiration, techniques and words of wisdom along the way.

This article is curated from LinkedIn.

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