From my very earliest conversations with Mariano, dating back to 2015, it was clear that he was not thinking of MURAL as a digital whiteboard. From the beginning, he was envisioning a whole new way of helping people collaborate.
With the acquisition of LUMA Institute (LUMA), and the launching of a new category, Collaborative Intelligence, MURAL is taking another bold step in realizing that vision. Collaborative Intelligence combines collaboration spaces with collaboration design to amplify a team's ability to do their best work together. Having joined forces, LUMA and MURAL will advance the Collaboration Design Institute™, coming late 2022. Together, we will work to ensure collaboration is never left to chance again.
When I stepped away from LUMA in February 2020, it was a bittersweet moment for me. It meant leaving a company that I had helped build into a recognized global leader — LUMA transforms how teams collaborate and innovate at enterprise scale. And I was still determined to pursue my original mission: inspiring and equipping people to work better together.
A month later, I joined MURAL. I knew what was possible once collaborative problem solving could happen regardless of location or time. I had also seen how MURAL could enable digital transformation across large, global enterprises. By building the principles of design thinking and collaborative problem solving into MURAL’s DNA, Mariano and Agus had created a potent ecosystem for facilitators to run more effective, inclusive meetings, and spark innovation more often — and more predictably — than ever before.
Now, LUMA and MURAL are one. For me, personally, this is an incredibly fulfilling moment as it means that millions more people will ultimately experience the benefits of the LUMA System in their everyday work. The combination brings new and lasting value to the entire MURAL community. It’s also a critical step in launching Collaborative Intelligence and helping teams connect to unlock their potential.
For collaboration to work, teams need a common place — a "where" — to come together. As put in our recently published Principles of Collaborative Intelligence:
“Teams require a shared place that’s accessible and inclusive of everyone — a common space. These spaces can be adapted to best serve the needs of the team. This means there is a single source of truth, a better way to track progress, and a more inclusive approach to meetings.”
Historically, physical rooms and office spaces served as the default place where work happened. Offices and meeting rooms were collaboration spaces powered by simple technology — whiteboards, sticky notes, markers, and flip chart paper.
Now, having your entire team in the same place at the same time is wonderful but rare — and physical spaces were never without their shortcomings. For example, how many people can fit in a typical conference room or in front of a whiteboard? Boardroom tables — even round tables — arrange people to be focused more on each other than on the problems they’re trying to solve or ideas they’re trying to share. With more and more teams working in distributed, remote, and hybrid environments, it’s less and less feasible to expect teams to be able to join the same physical collaboration space.
In comparison, digital collaboration spaces offer a rich environment that makes it possible to communicate and share complex ideas from anywhere and at any time. Everyone has a front row seat. When collaboration happens digitally — like working in a mural — everyone can participate from wherever they are, whether people are in an office, at home, or anywhere else.
However, as important as the collaboration space is, even more important is that teams know how to collaborate effectively — that is, they know how to connect with each other, how to unlock their collective potential, and how to direct that synergistic output toward a common purpose. That may sound simple, but it’s far from it.
Thankfully, helping people learn the skills to solve problems together is what LUMA has been doing for over a decade.
Collaboration spaces are not enough. A stage, outfitted with musical instruments and people to play them is a great start — but it takes a shared language to elevate the collaboration from cacophony to symphony.
What teams need is collaboration design. And that's what LUMA has been working on for over a decade.
LUMA Institute was founded on the principle of bringing design thinking and collaboration know-how to every team. In creating the LUMA System of Innovation, we landed on 36 core methods across 3 categories: looking, understanding, and making. These methods can be arranged and combined in different ways to solve specific problems, making the system both robust and flexible. Through LUMA, individuals, teams, and entire organizations have been empowered to drive not only wholesale culture change, but also better business outcomes.
That's the power of bringing purpose and intentionality into how teams work. The discipline of collaboration design will elevate all meetings, transforming them into collaborative experiences that enable you to connect and innovate with your team.
Imagine a future in which collaboration design practices become an expected part of every team interaction. In that future, people look forward to meetings rather than bemoan them because they have smarter ways to collaborate. And a common vocabulary that brings clarity rather than confusion. People experience more joy in their day-to-day work as collaboration feels less transactional, and more relational.
That’s a future I think everyone can get behind. And when you combine MURAL’s ability to bring collaboration spaces to enterprise companies with LUMA’s track record of transforming how teams work … well, that future seems a lot more likely.
The future of work will be hybrid — really it already was, but the past two years just accelerated the process. That means we need well-constructed, flexible frameworks that can adapt to any working situation, from real-time to asynchronous, in-person to remote. And that is exactly what we’re building at MURAL.
Going forward, LUMA customers will have the opportunity to extend their collaborative capabilities with the MURAL platform, including the unique tools that help scale collaboration design across organizations. And with the extended reach of MURAL, more people will have the opportunity to learn and apply the LUMA System.
LUMA and MURAL both bring a decade of experience to the table — yet this is just the beginning.