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Who we are

We are a strategic design consultancy, working with leaders to create new and better futures – vibrant communities, strong economies, sustainable environments and trusted institutions.  We believe in a positive future world that balances the needs of the collective and those of the individual.

As a global network of studios, we design with change leaders from the public sector, private sector, and the non-profit and voluntary sector. We work with local and central governments, businesses, industry bodies, not-for-profit organisations, non-government organisations, community organisations, cross-sector partnerships, endowments and foundations, and development agencies.

Creating new and better futures is a team effort that includes those who drive change and those who will experience change. We engage with the complexity and the messiness of real human experiences — how people live, work and play; how people experience products, services, regulations; how they navigate systems they interact with — health, education, energy, economic, regulatory, social welfare, to name a few. This gives us an understanding of the depth of human experience.  We also map the breadth of diverse stakeholders that shape the system that people experience.  We uncover their intentions for the system, mapping the different intents.

We use this understanding to generate innovation that meets multiple needs because it is grounded in real human behaviour and broad system understanding. Whether we are working on a large-scale transformation, or designing a small-scale but meaningful change, we work from insight to impact, empowering people to create change that matters. We transform systems to work for people. Design is only as good as the experiences that are generated.

We have a strong core of expertise in collaborative human-centred design, innovation and complex system transformation. We combine these core strengths with relevant approaches such as gamification and big data analytics. We also experiment to find new ways of tackling these challenges and achieve transformation, to build new insight, and to ensure our capabilities evolve and stay relevant.

We have the courage and optimism, as well as the capabilities and reach, to design for positive impact at scale.

What is the discipline of designing in complex systems?

Designing in complex systems is an emerging discipline that is part art and part science.  It is as creative as it is disciplined.  It requires the designer to consider simultaneously the depth of human experience, the breadth of all stakeholders, and extrapolate time from current to future.

Immersion in the human experience through ethnographic research and human-centred design gives depth through empathy.  Complexity and chaos theory plus big data provide breadth of understanding.  Scenario planning imagines possible futures over time.  Strategy, behavioural insights, gamification and sociology exert intentionality through motivations on the system.  Finally and importantly, the field is deeply ethical, always questioning what is the right thing to do and what is the real impact on people.

The methodology diverges to understand and converges to iterate towards preferred futures.  Within that methodology, tools from all the fields are drawn on as needed to give insight and generate options.  The design process relies on wide and diverse engagement.  Expert and values driven facilitation is a pre-requisite to broker diverse voices, create new ways of seeing the system and to ensure we generate ethical futures.

The discipline transforms big systems by understanding the deep experiences within them.  Projects continually zoom between the big complex system and empathy for the individuals that make up the system.  It does not “do” things to people, but rather designs “with” people.