2023 Year in review

Jan 2024

As we look ahead to another exciting year in 2024, we first wanted to pause and reflect on last year – our wins, our challenges, and what we learned. The unique work of systemic design is an evolving art; so it brings us great joy to share all that we can from our journey to help guide you on yours.

Let’s look at the year that was: 2023.

What made us proud: working with Argidius to plant the seeds for decades-long system change.

When we first partnered with the Argidius Foundation to explore the ways that donors fund Enterprise Support Organisations, we could never have imagined the scale and enormity of the project that awaited us. 12 months, 30+ interviews with 40+ participants, and one report later that we feel embodies the value of systemic design, we look back with gratitude and pride.

For Snowmelt, it was an incredible opportunity to work on a global systemic challenge with esteemed global organisations (such as The European Commission, USAID, and DFAT). The Sustain Impact report, which only officially launched in October, has already started some important conversations worldwide, which we look forward to continuing into 2024. We thank Argidius and our project partner Will Scott-Kemmis, alongside the 20+ organisations we engaged with for their insight and opportunities created.

“The Sustain Impact report is pivotal for this sector. I think in the future we'll look back and see that this is the moment where things started to change."
Andrew Shaw, Manager, Impact, Head of Ecosystems Technical Assistance and Grants, FMO - Dutch entrepreneurial development bank

Download the report or its summary here.

2023 was a big year of reflection for our brand.

Like many young businesses, our first few years were transformative for figuring out our identity and what our place in the world could, and should, be. Our brand-new website called for some creative deep-diving into just that – and we were proud to launch snowmelt.io last year.

In 2024 we celebrate our sixth year in business, and we really can’t believe how far we’ve come. Team Snowmelt have enjoyed flipping back through old notebooks and seeing how our current brand is still very much aligned with our early vision. We look forward to bringing you more from our birthday celebrations later in the year.

You're on the new Snowmelt website. Your opinion means a lot to us, so we would love to hear your feedback.

Exploring our brand

We found a new home on the harbour.

In 2023 we moved harbourside to our beautiful new office in Miller’s Point. Our heritage-listed 150-year-old headquarters is beautiful, filled with natural sunlight, original wooden floors, and…a trapdoor.

We are so happy to have a bright and welcoming space to bring network and community together - the weird and wonderful are always welcome here, so don’t be a stranger.

The new Snowmelt studio in Millers Point, Sydney
Our neighbourhood
What we learned: the weight of complexity should be shared.

Where most businesses ride the peaks and valleys of order and disorder, Snowmelt has the unique challenge (and opportunity!) of permanently sitting in organisational complexity. Our job is to meet our clients within their complex challenges, and help them to make decisions to progress.

Here are the top three things we learned:

  1. Carrying complexity - all its permutations and possibilities - is intensive; and difficult to work on alone. Getting multiple perspectives on each project is invaluable, and creates contingency.
  2. Maintaining team rituals even through crunch and pressure (such as our ‘morning check-ins’) helps to stay connected and makes a big difference… even if this is easier said than done.
  3. Context switching costs even more when working in complexity. Yes, working across multiple projects and clients leads to invaluable cross-pollination, but also exaggerates stress and pressure. It’s critical to make space between projects for a mental reset; especially as they start to run on longer timeframes.

How do you find ways to pause and reset during your projects? We would love to hear from you.

We supported the iconic Botanic Gardens of Sydney.

This year we partnered with not-for-profit organisation the Foundation & Friends of the Botanic Gardens to lead a comprehensive strategic review. With a deep examination of their stakeholder relationships (read: interviews and workshops with over 100 people!) Snowmelt assisted in articulating their purpose, vision and plan to enhance their impact.

Our work resulted in a long-term strategic blueprint, enabling the Foundation & Friends to have a clear path to achieve their community engagement, organisational growth, and sustainability ambitions.

We saw our profile of work shift to larger and more systemic projects.

It has always been Snowmelt's ambition to work on large-scale system challenges, and in 2023, we were happy to find ourselves working on several of these locally and internationally. Beyond our work with Argidius and the Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens, we’ve also worked on building capacity to address a state’s transportation system, transforming Australia's architectural capabilities, improving accessibility of clinical trials in the US, and enabling addiction recovery peer support networks.

These bigger projects with longer timelines saw us step into our full capacity as systemic designers. You will hear more on these soon.

B Corp certified – what a privilege.

We were excited in November to receive our official B Corp certification. As a company who values sustainability and diversity, and closely measures our environmental and social impact, we deeply resonate with the B Corp certification. Our work is all about system improvement, supporting multiple perspectives and working together towards a common goal – something we see strongly supported in the B Corp model.

See our B Corp listing.

Snowmelt literally melted in hot and muggy Boston.

In September Murray and Emma visited Boston, Massachusetts to lead a week-long workshop series with our long-time client, HealthMatch. This engagement built on our earlier work helping the team to tell the stories of 7,903 patients to quantify and improve diversity, equity and inclusion in clinical trials; to shape and deliver a new value proposition with the HealthMatch team.

In the weeks after the trip, we engaged a global biopharma leader to understand their most pressing patient questions, and worked with HealthMatch’s patient network (over 1.3 million strong) to find answers. Results were presented to the world at the flagship CNS Summit Conference in November.

We topped the trip off with a spin - and swim - around Boston in their famous ‘Duck Tour’; including quacks at passers-by.

Check out some of our recent work with HealthMatch here.

We shared the systemic design goodness with new cohorts.

Snowmelt founders Dr Tim Tompson and Murray Stubbs have continued to spread systemic design to new places:

  • Tim continued his tenure at UTS, lecturing in the UTS Master of Design Organisational Design program. See his slides from the class ‘Startups and Enterprises’.
  • Tim and Murray both coached the Startmate Women Fellowship to help ambitious women gain the tools, connections and confidence to hit the ground running in the startup ecosystem.
  • Murray continues to mentor founders, startups and teams across Climate KIC Australia's various programs and competitions.

Our team continued to grow…

In 2023, we welcomed and farewelled the wonderful Emma Ramsey, one of our talented systemic designers. Emma joined us early January and was a key player in some of our biggest projects this year. At just 23, Emma has a lot of world to see and is off to pursue her passion for the Arts.

In late 2023 we welcomed Maggie Kelly to the team as a senior strategic designer. Maggie is a former journalist and content strategist with a passion for storytelling – so we greatly look forward to applying her skills to the Snowmelt ideology.

…as did our community.

Systemic design is a small but close-knit community here in Australia, and Snowmelt was pleased to once again host our annual collaborator event in December. Familiar faces from came together for some delicious food and drinks, strategic-themed banter, and live entertainment as we watched Ben Crothers scribe our conversations on the whiteboard.

If you’re interested in working with Snowmelt, we’d love to hear from you! Email us an introduction to: hello@snowmelt.io, or check out our careers, and we’ll find a time to chat.

What our clients and partners had to say in 2023:

“We have worked with Snowmelt for years. Having a partner that knows us and can deliver what we need from a 15-minute conversation is invaluable."
Manuri Gunawardena, Founder and CEO of HealthMatch

“We developed a framework and undertook focus groups that led to the successful recruitment of 21 PhD students. It was a delight and a fantastic partnership.”
A/Prof. M. Hank Haeusler, Director Computational Design, Faculty of the Built Environment, UNSW

Looking forward...

And now, we look ahead to 2024 – another year to grow, learn, and seek out new ways to use systemic design thinking to improve ways of working around the old. We’re so excited to have you on this journey with us.

Happy new year!

Team Snowmelt.

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Dr Tim Tompson
Co-founder and Principal
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