TACSI - Principal (Design) - two positions

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation is looking for experienced designers to help us develop, test, and spread innovative solutions to some of Australia’s biggest social problems.

Who we are

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) partners with government, not-forprofits, philanthropy and business to develop and spread innovations that change lives for those who need it most. We believe that the best solutions to the problems we're trying to solve come from working with the people who are facing those challenges.

We focus on creating impact in the areas of Children and Families, Ageing and Caring and Disability. Our core activities are insights, solution design, capability building in innovation and large scale system change initiatives.

TACSI’s is structured around a number of small multi-disciplinary teams we call Pods. Pods are primarily responsible for the design and delivery of projects and initiatives as well as some business development activities.

A Pod does social innovation work for a range of clients, Federal and State Governments, Philanthropists, and Not For Profits. Pods are supported in their work by a team called the Platform. Platform holds many traditional management functions, such as human resources, finance, strategy, and operational support. The Platform’s job is to make sure that Pods have the skills, knowledge, and information to deliver great projects on time and on budget.

What you’ll be doing

The role of Principal (Design) is to work alongside the Principal (People and Policy) to provide day-to-day leadership to the pod so that they are able to best contribute to TACSI’s mission to develop, test and spread innovations that change lives. You will also lead and contribute to the scoping and delivery of projects.

What we will expect from you

Design Leadership

  • In this role we expect you to lead the design elements of projects and initiatives and the intersection of design process with the people / policy elements. This means that you will hold the responsibility and accountability to ensure that our projects and initiatives are appropriately framed, based on sound design and generative research work, involve testing and prototyping, and consider how scaling and embedding could lead to greater impacts.
  • We are committed to leading the field in design for social innovation, and in this role you will ensure that our work is both rigorous and practical, and that we can demonstrate that good design can result in greater social impact.

Stakeholder Engagement

  • In this role we expect you to generate, nurture and maintain strong relationships with a range of stakeholders who are key to our work - ranging from people experiencing a range of social issues, to people leading initiatives for engaging with social issues through political, policy, financial and service provision positions. At TACSI we are seeking to engage with the whole spectrum of people who experience and seek to change social issues.
  • We expect that some of these relationships with stakeholders will include generating and scoping business development activities - and engaging with stakeholders to scope out, design, produce proposals, cost and manage projects, programs and initiatives.

Social Innovator and Co-designer

  • In this role we expect you to lead social innovation initiatives - to be innovative in content, context and process, and to ensure that this innovation is co-designed, that is, design WITH and not FOR people. This commitment to co-design is practiced both internally (so you will be expected to codesign projects and processes with your pod colleagues) and externally (we are committed to co-designing outcomes with people experiencing the issues on which we are focussed in projects).

Project Manager

  • In this role we expect you to lead substantial and significant projects seeking to make a difference in relation to a range of complicated and complex social issues. You will be required to manage these projects and ensure that this management meets organisational expectations in terms of both financial and human resources sustainability. In addition, the core of our work is about achieving social impact, so there is an expectation that the projects are managed in such a way to maximise their impact - which often involves stretching the brief. We expect you to be able to manage the tensions this can create for delivery and for team pressures.

Action Learner

  • In this role we expect you to be an active contributor to building capability with your colleagues through training and coaching - and to be an active learner in your own right. This will require you to contribute your expertise to TACSI’s internal and external learning sessions and to share what you learn through blog posts and writing case studies based on the work you and others will undertake.
  • TACSI is committed to developing itself as a learning organisation, and as Principal (Design), you will play an active role in leading reflection on and learning from the experience of undertaking various projects, both from a content and a process perspective to contribute to wider learning and improvements across TACSI about how we can shift significant social issues.
  • As an active learner you will be asked to set and achieve personal learning objectives that grow our collective capacities for social innovation, and that align with the objectives of the organisation.
  • In addition you will have the opportunity to work on a number of special projects that will help build TACSI as an organisation for example: building a TACSI approach to measurement and evaluation, building a TACSI approach to storytelling or developing a new systems change offer for TACSI.

The kind of person you are

Your qualifications

  • You will have education to degree level in relevant field or fields. In this role experience and portfolio is far more important than formal qualifications.

Your experience

  • You will have at least 15 years professional experience, including at least 10 years’ experience successfully delivering social innovation projects with a strong process (this may have been alongside commercial innovation)
  • What areas we expect you will have demonstrated experience and knowledge in Service Delivery, Service Design, Policy, or front-line practice in areas relevant to social issues;
  • Direct engagement with people experiencing a range of social issues and vulnerabilities - including some that are relevant to TACSIs focus areas of disability, ageing and children and families.
  • Different client groups - non-profit and civil society organisations, government, social enterprises, business, corporates.

  • Different activity areas - design research, service design, prototyping, evaluation, implementation, facilitation, training, presenting, user-centred design, participatory design, writing and publishing.

What your capabilities and skills are and/or could be

  • You can excite prospective clients about the benefits of investing in an innovation approach that starts with people.
  • You can shape big ambitions into practical projects that lead to impact.
  • Your clients love working with you, despite you regularly provide them with constructive challenge.
  • You can design delightful and effective interactions: face to face, on the phone, online and in print.
  • You'll have command over a range of software for print, web and film production.
  • You're a big picture thinker and a details person, when you need to be.
  • You can hang out with users, make them feel at ease and hear their story.
  • You can make a compelling argument in a board room.
  • You have good knowledge and practical experience in qualitative research.
  • You have good knowledge and practical experience in service design.

The behaviours you will model

  • You have a genuine commitment, energy and passion for the objectives and values of TACSI. You throw your heart and soul into your work.
  • You have excellent interpersonal skills and high levels of emotional intelligence
  • You thrive in uncertainty and change and can lead others through it, getting your head around complex and uncertain situations, seeing associations and explaining them to others.
  • You have a down-to-earth, practical and outcomes-oriented approach - and you can put ideas into practice.
  • You set challenging and realistic goals with clear measures of success. You motivate and inspire others to help achieve these goals.
  • You’re always improving what you do, seeking out new sources of inspiration and sharing what you learn with others


There are two positions we wish to fill in Adelaide, South Australia. You may also submit and early expression of interest for a position in Sydney which will be advertised later in the year.

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