Blog Search
Press Shift + F on your keyboard to open the blog search on any blog page.

Getting Lost and Found in Research: MURAL Working Session Recap

Written by 
Catherine Collins / Alfredo Ortiz Aragón
November 5, 2020

Facilitate meaningful conversations to align your team during long-term, complex collaborations using MURAL

We’ve all worked on complex, long-term projects involving multiple stakeholders — projects where there is no one solution or answer. Managing that complexity can mean the difference between a successful outcome and an unsuccessful one.

To help you solve this challenge, here is a new strategy that uses collaboration to bring order to a long, time-consuming project.

Service designer and founder of Moxie, Catherine Collins, and professor and action researcher, Alfredo Ortiz Aragón led an exclusive working session for MURAL’s nonprofit customers to share tools they have developed for bringing order and clarity to the difficult phases of a project.

Read on — or watch the recorded session — to learn these techniques for yourself. Look out for Catherine’s tips on how to facilitate a similar session with your own teams below.

About Moxie: Moxie works with teams to understand what matters to their participants through research, co-design, and facilitation. Their past work ranges from reimagining benefits with early childhood educators in Vermont, to developing improved job placement programs with recently arrived migrants to Sweden.

Why should you use this framework?

    • Make space for all team members to step back and reflect on the project
    • Increase comfort levels within the team by embracing moments of divergence and convergence
    • Introduce a common language around when to create choices and when to make choices
    • Bring clarity to yourself and your team during overwhelming moments in a long-term, complex project

Finding where it is natural to diverge and converge

Early in the session, Catherine and Alfredo explained the importance of diverging and converging —  recognizing when more opportunities should be created versus when decisions need to be made.

Convergence and divergence are concepts that design thinking borrowed from psychology — but they’re useful techniques for everyone, not just designers.

Divergent moments are when you are creating choices. This can be done through interviews, collecting information, and data.

“There is a lot of possibility in divergent moments.”

💡 Catherine Collins, Service Designer & Founder | Moxie

Converging is about making  decisions. This can be done using the information and data collected during divergence.

After a quick explanation of these terms, participants reflected on current ongoing projects that they wanted to bring some order to.

🚀  FACILITATION TIP: Use the summon facilitator superpower to make sure everyone is working in the same area.

The “Let’s Take a Moment” exercise

To analyze the projects they had selected, participants went through the Let’s Take a Moment Tool that was developed by Catherine and Alfredo at Moxie. The tool encourages teams to think about diverging and converging moments at each stage of a project and to understand when to make decisions versus continue to create possibilities.

Reflecting on where we are, to figure out where we could go

The initial steps in the framework are about identifying the moments when they've created choices (diverge) and when they've made choices (converge) at the project level, in meetings, and in informal conversations.

🚀  FACILITATION TIP: Give individuals time to think on their own to accommodate different learning and communication styles before sharing out or using breakout rooms. Private mode in MURAL is great for this.

Reflecting on where we can go 

After individuals reflected on their own, Catherine and Alfredo had everyone discuss  in breakout groups what they noticed while going through the questions. Participants then came back together to share out what came up in their groups. To increase the engagement of everyone in the group, there is a section in the template dedicated to capturing ideas, further questions or comments. After each group shared their ideas and conclusions, everyone individually contributed next steps to work on after the session.

Working through this tool with your team will leave each individual with an understanding of where they are in a project and where they will be going.

“Every tool or method is just a lens through which we can look at the world. Ultimately, they help us to connect as people, in meaningful conversations and actions. It’s successful not if we did it right, but whether it produced good conversation or not.”

💡 Alfredo Ortiz Aragón | Professor & Action Researcher 


Watch the full replay or dive into the presentation mural to experience how the template can be used in action to orient your team. 

Replay the webinar 📹

Access the presentation MURAL

Access the template

Additional resources to explore 🔭

🙌 Visit MURAL for Nonprofits to see if your organization qualifies for a free workspace

🕒 For quick tips on remote work, check out our MURAL Minute YouTube Series

💻 Need support with upcoming research or a challenging project? Contact Moxie to learn more about how they can help. 

Upcoming events 🧠

Have a MURAL story you’d like to share? Contact

💡 12.03 Moxie’s Ideation Workshop

About the author

About the authors

Catherine Collins / Alfredo Ortiz Aragón

Catherine Collins started Moxie to further ideas that matter to communities and non-profits using design thinking and action research methods. Alfredo Ortiz Aragon is an action-researcher and designer/facilitator of organizational change processes, working in international and local development contexts for the last 18 years.