How Mural links design thinking and Agile

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
May 21, 2024
A decorative illustration showing a colorful representation of the Agile development lifecycle as a bridge
How Mural links design thinking and Agile
Written by 
Bryan Kitch
May 21, 2024

When taking on a challenging project, or even something as significant as organizational change, you’ve got to take pains to make sure that you’re working on the right things (‘what’s the right problem to solve,’ or ‘what’s going to move this project forward’). 

Enter design thinking.

Built to bring a consistent framework to how we analyze problems and build solutions, design thinking is a great way to identify the right work to do. 

But, no matter the scale, cross-functional projects can become overwhelming. With so many stakeholders and competing priorities, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Enter Agile.

Rather than being overawed by the scale of any project, Agile says, let’s break this down into smaller steps, collaboratively design solutions, and involve the customer along the way. That way, we can bring even the largest projects to life more quickly, and make sure we’re delivering on what the stakeholders actually want, by using a system that integrates feedback along the way. 

Related: What is Agile project management? Our comprehensive guide to Agile methodology

In short, design thinking defines the right work to do, and Agile is the right way to do work — but how do you bring them both together? 

Enter Mural. 

Mural, which is purpose-built to facilitate design thinking practices, is also a platform that enables Agile teams to collaborate more effectively and map the relationships across their work back to the underlying strategies that define their goals. It bridges the gap between the right work to do, and the right way to do work.

It's a platform where people can explore ideas and build relationships; where they can create designs and gather feedback; and where they can share their progress with everyone involved in an intuitive, fun, and — dare we say — even beautiful way. 

Related: How Mural supports Agile, from learning to development

TL;DR: The most important thing about Mural is that it allows organizations to easily see and understand shared information, and the relationship between the strategy and tactics to achieve their goals. This can help them make better decisions about how to do their work.

‘But how does Mural do such a thing?? It seems truly miraculous!’ You’re probably saying to yourself. 

Well, dear reader, let us explain.

Why visual collaboration trumps all

Mural helps teams think better, get on the same page, and understand concepts more clearly. They can then use these ideas and concepts to guide their work. 

Visual collaboration addresses many of the shortcomings of traditional collaboration methods by using the power of visual communication. In other words, it takes the phrase, ‘see what I mean?’ and interprets it literally. 

When considering an idea, you have to use a certain amount of your processing power just to bring it to life in your mind. When you use visuals to help map out the idea, you relieve that pressure on your internal processing — it not only makes the idea clearer to others, but also frees up space for you to consider more variables by reducing the stress on your brain. 

Some of the key benefits of visual collaboration include:

Empowering every team member

Visual collaboration democratizes the process of idea-sharing, placing all team members, regardless of their hierarchical position or technical experience, on an equal footing. 

Faster alignment and coordination

By visualizing thoughts, teams can achieve a shared understanding more rapidly, moving from abstract discussions to concrete visual representations.

Enhanced participation

Visual methods invite contributions from everyone, making it easier for typically reserved individuals to express their ideas and take an active role in discussions. It also leads to a broader diversity of perspectives, and is more inclusive of other points of view. The result is a more accurate and holistic picture that directly informs the outcome.

Rapid context switching

The human brain processes visual information swiftly, allowing team members to grasp complex information quickly and switch between topics without losing focus.

Building connection and trust

Working visually can make collaboration more engaging and fun, helping to build trust and strengthen team bonds. 

Learn more about how visual work solves so many of the problems that plague traditional teamwork and collaboration methods with our complete guide to visual collaboration.

Mural links design thinking and Agile development

Teams need a clear purpose and confidence in their work to be effective. While virtual work has proven successful, challenges remain in communication, collaboration, and outcomes. The challenge lies in transforming qualitative problem-solving into market-ready solutions. 

This is where Mural excels. It helps Agile teams both plan and execute their work effectively. Program increment planning, for example, brings teams together to align goals, discuss capabilities, plan development cycles, and identify dependencies. Mural provides a dynamic online space for teams to collaborate, regardless of location. 

Mural facilitates both brainstorming and prioritization

Mural is a powerful tool that allows teams to brainstorm and prioritize ideas in an efficient and organized way. With Mural, teams can quickly capture and map out ideas in a collaborative space, facilitating the generation of new ideas, and encouraging team members to build on each other's thoughts. 

Also, Mural offers features such as anonymous voting and grouping (including AI-powered clustering for Enterprise customers), which allows teams to prioritize ideas based on their importance and feasibility. This helps turn ideas into action items by identifying the most valuable and achievable ones — turning their ideas into actionable plans.

Kickstarts collaboration

Templates are a great way for teams to start using Mural quickly to organize Agile work. There are many Agile templates to choose from, but sometimes teams need to customize templates to fit their needs — you can easily modify and share any Mural template with your team, so that it’s tailored to your specific project. That’s part of what makes Mural a dynamic and customizable workspace that gives teams just the right amount of both structure and freedom. 

An image showing the Mural Daily Scrum Meeting template in the Mural platform
Get started with the Mural Daily Scrum Meeting template

Enhances communication

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and a diagram is worth 10,000 words. Okay, technically we just made that second part up, but it’s true when you think about it. Mural allows team members to visualize their workflows, user stories, and sprint plans, making it easier to communicate complex ideas and make sure everyone is on the same page. 

Remember: Agile isn’t just about knowing what work to do, or breaking down projects into smaller tasks — the key to effective Agile project management is to know how to prioritize your tasks so that you’re always working on the right things. 

Helps gather better feedback

By using visual tools like user journey maps or service blueprints, teams are able to not only collect but also organize feedback visually. This helps in identifying patterns and insights that might be missed in traditional text-based feedback.

Ensures that your product reflects client needs

Agile teams can use Mural to actively involve clients in the collaboration process. Real-time sharing of visual notes and iterative designs helps make sure that the final product aligns closely with the client’s expectations and requirements, reducing revisions and rework. 

Also, the visual nature of Mural makes it easy to bring every stakeholder into the conversation, so that you can be confident that you’re working from a shared understanding. 

Related: Welcome to Mural: how to get your team started

Streamline your Agile processes with frictionless collaboration

The best teams — be they NBA champions, or even fictional heroes with superpowers (and sometimes even capes) — have team members that understand their roles and how their work as individuals affects team goals. They know the work that needs to be done, and they divide it among team members to get it done right.

Mural brings everyone together, empowers every stakeholder, invites feedback and iteration, and fosters better alignment. The strengths of the Mural platform map neatly onto the Agile development lifecycle, and benefit every team as they work together from beginning to end of any project. 

Mural makes it possible for enterprises to implement and scale Agile methodologies in a visual, collaborative way. Contact our Sales team to learn more about how Mural powers enterprise collaboration.

About the authors

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.