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A government-backed support system to help small businesses thrive

​The Challange

The IRD is New Zealand’s tax agency. They undertook a major transformation program in 2015 to renew the overall tax system with a view to make it as invisible as possible to all taxpayers, companies included.

The Project

The IRD called Fjord to re-imagine and deliver on the tax experience of small and medium businesses. Since SMB represent 90% of companies in New Zealand, we were thrilled to take on the challenge and have a lasting impact on the New Zealand economy. In parallel, the IRD was training its staff in design-led approaches to problem solving. This project was then a great vehicle for them to put their theoretical knowledge in practice.

My Role

As service design lead, I structured the engagement with a view to perform user research and create solutions alognside IRD staff. Coaching was a critical part of this engagement, as the IRD wanted its staffed to be able to perform some part of a service design process by themselves.

The Result

We prototyped and delivered two major service concepts that helped small businesses get more compliant - and get reassured about it. This project provided good insights about how an organisation engages in capability uplift in design. Adapting coaching styles, creating learning sessions or helping people understand the value of design critique were critical for IRD, as their team progressively learnt how to create impact through design, reaching a point where they became totally autonomous on a variety of design tasks.

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