Redesign: New ways for teams

From silver bullets to complex initiatives for complex challenges

Teams working in complex policy areas such as sustainability, climate change, health, and education have been faced with the continuing problem of having to deliver more outcomes with less resources.

For many, the pandemic has added to the complexity. COVID has also made the work more difficult to deliver because people are spread more thinly and are just tired from working from home, restructures and a general sense of being at different stages on the roller coaster.

For many such teams, Coronavirus has amplified the need for their work even further.

For years gone by though, there has a problem lurking in the background that we are largely unaware of. The way we have been shaping our projects has fired silver bullets at challenges that are shaped more like an octopus. The bullet may land in one part of the octopus, but it doesn’t match the shape of the octopus. The octopus just grows another leg. The silver bullet project doesn’t resolve or progress the issue much at all.

From our growing understanding of living systems or complexity, we now know that the shape of the ‘solution’ to complex challenges needs to match or meet the shape of the challenge.

To achieve this, we need to redesign the way we work and deliver ‘projects’.

About Redesign, the program

Redesign is a team coaching program designed teams working in complex policy areas. At its core is the promise to bring the lens of complexity or living systems to your team, its work and role within the system. The intention is to guide the team to gain better leverage and be more effective in complex circumstances. Additionally, we expect to see team energy and motivation increase too as we engage the whole-ness of all team members too.

The program is co-designed with the team to meet their specific needs but might typically include:

  • ½ day team review workshop
  • Six, 2-3 hour group coaching sessions at approximately three weekly intervals.
  • Regular progress discussions with the team leader.

These sessions might consider:

  • Shared and co-created team vision and purpose within your system of interest
  • Identification of the team’s position of privilege within the system and refinement of their role (e.g. from providers of services to facilitators of networks)
  • Reconfiguring the way work is allocated within the team
  • Review of projects to understand how they reflect the team vision, purpose/role
  • Identification of KPIs (measures and indicators directly related to the vision)
  • Discussion and development of a team learning process to capture, and record lessons learned.

The program can partially emerge through regular meetings with the team leader as we progress. The design is intended to provide seeds for new ideas and time to implement the implications of new thinking as we proceed. Thought provoking materials are included.


“Josie has gently guided our team to develop a rich, shared understanding of our purpose and strengths, which resonates with each individual and the team as a whole. She has helped us to discover ourselves, to think more laterally, and become re-energised in a time of constant change. Our work with Josie has helped us to clarify what our team does which is required in the wider system – and what parts of our work is more important. Her deep understanding of complexity, experience with practical approaches to working with it, and exceptional coaching skills, have allowed our team to test ideas and become confident navigators in complexity.” 

Tania McDonald, Urban Sustainability Team, Department of Environment and Water, South Australia

Published Case Study

Download a copy a case study with the Urban Sustainability Team.