SBS Designing a Culture of Continuous Innovation


In 90 days, we harnessed design to create organisational change among SBS’ executive leadership and hundreds of individuals. The focus wasn’t to design products and services – it was to design a culture that would enable leaders and teams to design change for themselves – evolving how they think, behave, and work.

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  • SBS is a purpose-driven organisation that provides radio, television and digital media that inform, educate and entertain all Australians. Externally, SBS is faced with existential threats of a rapidly changing competitive landscape (Netflix, Stan, et Al) and an audience whose needs and tastes are constantly changing. Internally, the organisation operated with both strong silos and hierarchy, which perpetuated this perception that change was the responsibility of the next level up. Our challenge was to design a sustainable model for continuous innovation at SBS, one that truly empowered leaders and teams with the mindsets, behaviours and tools to co-design change together.

  • Mentally Friendly designed a process for SBS leaders and teams to co-design change in 90 days. + We formed a “council” of change agents who had the influence, skills, and desire necessary. + We aligned leaders and teams on the organisation’s core problems by creating an environment of psychological safety and honest feedback across all levels and divisions. + We also trained over 100 SBS managers on new tools and experiments to empower them to be more effective leaders. Once aligned on the problem, we then experimented with new tools and ways of working by creating prototypes, running pilots, learning and iterating.

  • By the end of our 90 days, we had created not just tangible tools to solve some of SBS’ biggest challenges, but we had embedded a culture of continuous innovation – leaders now approach their teams with more empathy; team mindsets shifted from siloed interests to organisational-wide benefit; and “council” members were empowered to create the change that SBS needs for the future. SBS is now able to more effectively adapt to the existential threats it faces, all in a way that is more collaborative, sustainable in the long-run, and delivers on SBS’ purpose with greater impact.

  • This program of work has resulted in real, tangible change across SBS – across divisions, levels, and products and services: + Experimented and implemented a more collaborative, cross-divisional planning and prioritisation process. + Simplified KPIs across the organisation. + A framework to design products and services to deliver on real audience value (validated by user testing with real SBS audiences). + Changed mindsets, as reflected in feedback and surveys captured at the end of the program: “This project has helped to enlighten me on how our business can be run. True collaboration can be obtained – if you’re willing to let go of protecting your own patch and invest in the greater good. This work makes me want to be a better leader and team player.” – Alex, Team Lead “I’m so proud of all the change that we’ve made in such a short period of time. For the first time in awhile, we feel truly uncomfortable because we’re challenging ourselves in new ways, trying new things, and actually working as a team within such a complex organisation. The team is empowered to run the business; if they see something that needs to be changed, they can change it.” – James Taylor, Managing Director