Co-design approach lands Nous Group another Good Design Award

11 September 2023 3 min. read
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Nous Group has received a Good Design Award for its co-design approach to improving Victoria’s local government planning approvals processes.

Australian-origin management consulting firm Nous Group has won yet another Good Design Award, this time for its work with Victoria’s Department of Transport and Planning to streamline and improve state-wide planning approvals processes.

It’s the third time in four years the firm has been recognised by the top design and innovation body in Australia following accolades in 2020 and 2021, the latter for a collaboration with Victoria’s education and training department.

Co-design approach lands Nous Group another Good Design Award

The latest assignment for the Victorian government on the Better Planning Approvals Project saw Nous Group join with the department and 19 local councils to co-design, test and iterate a suite of solutions to improve processing times, user experience and efficiency around approvals, with more than 30 councils now having taken part in the program.

Strategies, lessons and updated solutions from each council’s implementation are then added to the project for the benefit of other councils.

As was the case with the firm’s last winning entry – which related to the development of a child well-being information sharing system – Nous Group placed significant importance on the human-centred and co-design aspects of the engagement. Indeed, an adherence to such principles is somewhat of a mantra at Nous Group, including on their last Good Design winning project, in which the firm worked directly with at-risk youth to shape a program aimed at improving their short-term employment prospects.

“Victoria has 79 local councils, each with its own structure, system and way of working. With this level of complexity, we knew co-design would be essential in making this program successful and sustainable,” stated principal and design lead Brenden Carriker. “The project represents a significant shift in how local councils solve problems to achieve better outcomes. That shift would not have been possible without the department’s commitment to co-design and collaboration.”

And the Good Design Awards judges agreed, selecting Nous Group as a winner in the service design category (one of eleven divisions) after evaluating more than 900 entries according to criteria including design, innovation and impact, stating; “It is clear that the minds behind the Better Planning Approvals Project have taken the time to understand the needs of Victorian residents and business owners. This is a fantastic use of co-design that we hope to see more often in government.”

In addition to Carriker, those minds behind the project on the Nous Group side over the 18-month assignment included Dan Fine, Kasia Mierzejewska, Alannah Tran, Trisha Santhanam, Jasmine Lewin, Cristina Cañiz Perez, Belinda Gaddes, Aidan Jago, Justine Caldwell, Rachel Flitman, Garima Verma, Robert Carreon, Gavin Williams, Linh Do, Lillie McDonagh and Jared Johnson.

The Department of Planning team was meanwhile led by urban design doctorate-holder Marjan Hajjari.

Hajjari stated: “It has been a pleasure working with Nous Group who were with us from the start of the project and showed us how to develop best practices through meaningful collaboration and partnership by applying human-centred design approach. This award acknowledges the dedication, professionalism, and contributions of our local council partners, as well as the consultants (from Co Squared and Pinnacle Group) who joined us at various stages of the project.”