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What Happens When Teams Put Imagination to Work?: Livestream Recap

Written by 
David Chin
July 16, 2020

Last week as a part of MURAL Imagine, our Co-founder and CEO Mariano Suarez-Battan delivered a live, keynote presentation, discussing the core challenges and opportunities regarding how teams “put imagination to work.” 

Read on for the key takeaways, including a replay of the keynote, presentation mural, and all the resources Mariano covered in the discussion.

Make space for imagination

What is imagination but the ability to visualize in your head new possibilities? It's combining ideas, concepts, pictures in new ways. Imagination gives us the freedom to consider how things might be different.

"I think it's really important to give yourself a chance to explore what you're curious about...a curiosity to fix a problem led to this project, which then led to the solution being available when we needed it most. This is what having the freedom to innovate is all about."

💡 Ivan Rahman | Digital Product Manager, Northwestern Mutual

The challenge is for us all to open up to curiosity so that we might explore different ways of doing things. Once we’re free to imagine, the next step is to take what’s inside our heads and put it out into the world. Getting ideas into a visual space allows us to shape those ideas - and share them with others.

That’s where collaboration comes in.

Make collaboration from anywhere, easy

It’s not enough to be able to see each other on video calls or pass messages back and forth over email, chat, or comments on documents. We need a way to get past the forms of communication to see what others mean. And that’s not possible unless we make collaboration easy.

What’s more, as more and more teams have been forced to work remotely, making collaboration easy requires extra care. Teams not only need the ability to connect at a distance using software and hardware, they need a way to account for all the nuances of collaboration … nuances that come easily in person and yet can be insurmountable at a distance.

That’s why teams are finding novel ways to use technology to make collaboration easy. When teams are able to connect without friction, ideas can be easily shared and improved.

Guided methods facilitate imagination

With imagination comes possibility. Yet with possibility can come paralysis. “Blank canvas paralysis” is the essence of this problem. Without any constraints, where do you begin? How do you focus your imagination?

Here, we look to guided methods to facilitate imagination. By turning to tried-and-true techniques and best practices — i.e., design thinking, frameworks, double diamond, etc. — we are able to tease out the insights we need to better understand problems and pursue opportunities.

(Remote) facilitation as a core competence

Leading companies are seeing that facilitation is a core competence. An expert facilitator, for example, knows how to activate the raw talent of a team and create a synergistic atmosphere for imagination…and innovation.

"We're making it possible for other people to guide teams by building processes, toolkits, mural templates, education experiences. We launched this week a facilitator growth program where we're growing more facilitators in our ranks, and that eventually will be offered to anyone in the company.

💡 Erin Hauber, Director of Human-Centered Design Practice, USAA"

What’s possible tomorrow when teams put imagination to work today?

When teams are free to imagine together, they have the opportunity to understand problems and work toward innovative solutions. That’s why we focus on these four vectors:

  1. Visual thinking and imagination,
  2. Making collaboration from anywhere easy,
  3. Guided methods as a social technology to focus work, and
  4. (Remote) facilitation as a core competence.  

For each theme, Mariano shared resources and opportunities within the MURAL community to learn, grow, and lead as a pioneer in the space.

Teams that can put imagination to work from anywhere can accomplish anything.

Replay the livestream 📹 

Access the presentation mural 👀

Additional resources to explore 🔭

▶️ Watch the latest MURAL Imagine Playlists
Original, on-demand video content from expert facilitators and guests speakers like John Maeda.

🦸 Develop your Facilitation Superpowers
Grow your facilitation capabilities, unlock the potential within your teams. Discover what’s possible when you have MURAL superpowers.

🤝 Meet the Playmakers
The strength of the MURAL community is driven by passionate and talented individuals and organizations who love MURAL as much as we do. Playmakers are MURAL experts who help others scale innovation and achieve their goals through visual collaboration.

🎟️ Sign up for MURAL Backstage Pass
Backstage Pass gives you an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at how distributed teams collaborate on real work. From brainstorms to product launches, follow along as we share our processes for organizing and executing our work using MURAL.

🛠 The 7 Tools That Every Remote Team Needs
Forbes covers essential software for distributed teams.

✍️ MURAL Templates
Best-in-class guided methodologies used by teams to focus work and drive better outcomes for meetings, brainstorming, mind-mapping, design thinking, and more.

🤔 LUMA Anywhere
Learn design thinking skills and strategy from the LUMA Institute. 

Upcoming events 🧠

🏃‍♀ July 28 - July 29 | Design Dash: remix your ideas and leverage your curiosity 

👩‍💻 August 25 - August 26 | Remote Design Sprints: utilize tools and techniques to successfully run your own remote design sprint 

Join MURAL Imagine and explore the future of imagination work

This livestream was part of MURAL Imagine, a multi-week event in which we explore the future of imagination work and remote collaboration. If you're not already signed up, register now to get access to updates about all the upcoming content. 🪁

📝 Livestream Transcript

[00:00:00] Justin: Greetings. My name is Justin Owings, for MURAL, and I'm welcoming you, welcoming you today to, Marianno's keynote. At MURAL, our mission is to empower imagination workers, wherever they may be. And today I'd like to introduce, Mariano Suarez-Baton, the CEO and co-founder of MURAL. Mariano will be discussing the challenges and opportunities for imagination workers; as well as resources to help foster growth and innovation in the community. We're going to kick it off right now and Mariano will go through his talk. And at the end, we'll have a Q&A period. So get your questions ready! And now I'll pass it over to Mariano. 

Mariano: Thank you, Justin. And that was beautiful Spanish.

So hello everyone: good morning or good evening, wherever you might be. As Justin was  mentioning, we have a big, bold mission around powering, powering up [00:01:00] imagination workers globally. And that means a bunch of things. One is inspiring, inspiring everybody with a brain to use their imagination. We believe everybody has a big imagination, but they just forgot about it in school.

We also believe that visual methods are a very important, common visual language that we should all have as modern workers. Collaboration should be able to happen anywhere, not limited to a room, and of course, facilitation, right? As a key component of collaboration as a way to level us up. So, as part of that mission, we also, besides providing software, try to bring community around us. Right? And all of you, who don't have community. And we try to gather brilliant minds in the community to help us share what's going on out there in the world of [00:02:00] modern work and this time of a global pandemic, right? Where we're seeing, and I don't know, rethinking what work means and how to better adapt work to what their needs are.

And in particular, we like to think about the opportunities and challenges that we can see, that we see, in the market around bringing imagination or visual thinking and collaboration to the world. And we see a lot of challenges and the good news is that there's a lot of people like you out there. They're overcoming these challenges.

I wanted to share a little bit about that throughout our talk today. Most importantly, I wanted to share this quote by Ivonne where he's inviting us also to again, use this moment to, to open up to curiosity, to play and be able to explore different ways of doing things. I think that is something that is important for all of you, as [00:03:00] to introduce this way of working to many other people that might be less prone to change.


Imagination. So this little weird things in here, like characters that I was sketching, I don't know, 10 years now, when we first started MURAL. I was a game designer. We had a video games company that we sold to a company called Playdom and then to Disney. And we were coming up with the next game. We had a soccer game. I'm Argentinian, and so we had to do a soccer game. Very popular, 20 million people played in 2010 and I needed to create the next one. Right? And I had this, this game about emotions in my head. The game would change depending on what people were Tweeting or feeling around the world. And your job was through dance, through descriptors, bringing them back to balance.

So it was early [00:04:00] on in this process. This game was never produced. One day, I will probably want to do that work of art. But what I did do was start putting ideas or things that are inside my head into a PowerPoint deck; with characters, environments, and mechanics and storyline into this PowerPoint deck that helped me see and think through the idea.

The problem that I had though, is that I was flying around Silicon Valley Argentina, and I needed it to be a digital medium because they needed to collaborate. This was 10 years ago, with my team in Buenos Aires. But every time that I shared this keynote people would be like, first of all, confused; because the keynote was very linear, when I was delivering this message. But also, I didn't get the possibility and the feeling for them to [00:05:00] co-create with me. They thought that whatever was there in the keynote or PowerPoint deck was final. There was no permission, no affordance in the medium to get your hands dirty and change it and contribute to it and eh, give more and different perspectives to it.

So something that we are, I mean, that's a core of why we started MURAL, is that we believe that there should be space for imagination. And the space, of course, is physical - or virtual - in this case. But space is also time. Space is also a moment, especially in this context of remote work, where we need to like, leave some room to think, to serve, to download your ideas.

And I, and I think that it's an important part of our jobs, because if not, we're just optimizing, we're not coming out with the possibilities. We like to talk about imagination workers, right? So [00:06:00] people that see the world in a different way first; but then, of course, gather teams - more disciplinary teams - around them to be able to make these things happen.

The great news is that in the last ten years, five years, there's been a lot of movement around visual note taking first, but then visual thinking, visual collaboration. We have part of, of, of, of the talks coming on. Ole and Loa will give another talk on the building blocks of visual thinking and visual collaboration. How to basically draw very basic stick figures or start people to express things. Express not just big ideas, but also processes.

Changes in culture, anything can be described visually and can be understood visually; much better than if it's just inside your head and you talk about it. There's also crash courses that we're doing, that we recommend that you check them [00:07:00] out and sign up. There's a lot going on also in our backstage passes, as part of our learner section, they should also enjoy they're all free. And Mark and our team did a phenomenal job in bringing these types of exercises for you to practice with your teams; well also by yourselves, because I believe that you should be enjoying your time thinking and creating by yourselves, too. So when we were, when we were like putting this, the initial versions of MURAL out there, we started with, again, a very loose open space for peers of people to be able to collaborate on something new with the affordance, this.

We talk about flexible structure, right? So like the possibility to just start with, from something very chaotic and start shaping it a little more. But what we learned when we were in IDEO, when we had started working with the guys from Steelcase also, is that the [00:08:00] world had already evolved. There were already a lot of methodologies, right?

Those are common in the double diamond, but then empathy maps, customer journey maps, different formats of two way two; all organized in what we now know about called design thinking. Or if it's a little more process driven, the same sprints that not only allow for imagination work to happen, but also make it better and make it better because of a couple of reasons.

First of all, It's a guided way of communicating, collaborating, and creating with a multi-disciplinary team. Right? Most of the innovations that we're going to bring into the world, like big iPhone innovations, but also like needing  improvements to certain processes. We generally need someone else. And I believe that these methods can become, will become and are becoming; to be honest with you, [00:09:00] standard in our language. They're becoming a visual language that we use and we're starting to see many more people walk to a meeting - virtual or not - and say, "Oh yeah, that's a customer journey map." "Well, yeah, that's an empathy map or that that's a UX flow and I get it. I understand it." And you don't need to be explaining over and over as we had to explain over and over five to ten years ago. 

These guided methods are accelerating and inviting everybody that not, might not come intuitively a good imagination or bring a good creativity, but allows them to play along, right? Like a rock band, high school rock band, trying to jive together. They're not musicians just yet, but at least they give them the guidance and the confidence to at least play the game.

Right? So that the stars in you, you are facilitators, you are designers. You're [00:10:00] going to be like making this, this, this happen. But as you're bringing these people in as part of the method, first of all, they give you the different perspective. But then, as Jeanne Liedtka talks about it, we continue to talk about it in multiple books ;she believes - and I believe that too - that design thinking is a social technology. That allows us as teams as a bureaucracy to change how we work. And she believes that the same thing can be like total quality management many years ago, that gives people that empowerment to be able to innovate; and don't need to ask for permission or go to the innovation center to do it, right?

As more people feel more or less comfortable with working this way, they're going to be able to innovate much better. So, I encourage you guys to consider how in your own groups, in your own teams, in your companies, you define the set of [00:11:00] methodologies that you truly believe in and use it over and over and over and over again; because that's the only way they're going to get better as a team.

Something that Jeanne shared in our last webinar with her, I recommend you watch everything that she put together, and it's all recorded. Check it out. But she starts by this idea of design thinking and unbundling what design thinking means and the different steps. But also, she recently talked about her research that she found that people and teams. The most important part of, of design thinking, because there's a lot of instructors, of course. Is that not about getting them, anybody like a, not a non-designer to become an expert designer and replace designers because designers are very important and their, their craft is unique now, but having people being like rupees and Thurmond to like, I mean mid-level layers, the impact on the results was astounding.

So, I recommend, [00:12:00] check out this because it'll give you talking points on how to pitch for this type of work inside your company. We also gathered great speakers, right, guys; from Cprime, Voltage Control, on sharing how to, in the case of design, dashes make these meetings be more compact and getting to decisions faster. Jim just shared on Jobs To Be Done, our Head of Customer Success, and also recommend that you check out the presentations by eh, LUMA, eh, because they have been able to put together a system of methodologies that you could take yourself and use as common visual language to employ in your company.

And then, please check out Playmakers, a new section that we added in our website with people, right? They have methodologies that you can use, take advantage of, and maybe [00:13:00] bring as part of your toolbox on your common visual language. Imagination, guided methods for imagination.

But of course we've been observing this for a while, right? So these methods were mostly created and popularized, by folks that have the luxury of being together in beautiful offices, great project rooms for a long period of time. That wasn't the reality for most of you six months ago. Right? There was friction.

You had to fly. You stay for a bunch of days in a hotel, get together in the project room. The meetings were mostly exciting, but this happens every once in a while. So he didn't get to like jive all the time. Plus these workshops were costly. We're seeing for the last four or five, six months that [00:14:00] the world entered a global pandemic and that forced us to go home and stay home and work from home. So everybody is now embracing remote work, but not everybody is doing it willingly. Right. A lot of people are suffering a lot. It's not easy to engage with people through a screen. Like, it's not natural. We're, as human creatures, social creatures. We like to gather around the fire pit.

Right. But it's a reality that we need to brute force our way through. But I truly believe that there's advantages to it. Right? A lot of people are thinking of how do I jump from them becoming a, in, the early adopters? Like you get it, the wanting to help the people that are not that savvy with technology or not like, how do we help them go through the custom of product options or social technology adoption.

Right. [00:15:00] So we're seeing this pattern of reaction in conversation with people. And they say: Before the pandemic, we didn't believe that remote workshops could happen. During the pandemic: Thank you for existing, because you felt: let's keep on going. But we are seeing something very interesting. They are unlearning and relearning fast.

They're realizing that there's benefits also to be able to work in this very visual immersive high energy work. We're also doing it digitally. I'm on fluidly and not needing to travel, to spend all this time and so on. And we're seeing some things going on, for example. Well, first of all, IT means accelerating the standardization of technology to allow for everybody to work securely and properly from their homes.

Right for IT organizations in, in, in, in [00:16:00] global corporations, having worked really, really hard as many of you have. But the nice thing is that there were best practices before this, too. Right? Eh, we have, I mean, IBM is one of our biggest employment because it means, okay. And they did a really good job five years ago already on standardizing making official a set of tools that they use and blessed, so that everyone in the company can take advantage of. And of course people are, are, are, are jumping into this the same way. It's a technology thing. And because again, at its core, the first layers are connectivity, security, hardware; of course, videoconferencing. And then there's many other things that need to be there, but you'll realize it's not just all technology and you guys know that, right?

It's about changing how we work. And first of all, is rethinking the workshop. This guy that told me, I mean, he helped us survive. He realized that they don't really [00:17:00] need eight hour or two day eight hour workshops. Right. We invented that in the past because we had to fly everybody. So let's maximize together time.

The reality is that most of those eight hour days, we're eating muffins, drinking coffee, building rapport and camaraderie; but not really, really working. Right? And of course, it's important to get together and we recommend it. Right. It's part of what we do as a company ourselves. A global retreat this year, we'll probably miss it, unfortunately. But, the reality is that once you get into creative problem solving mode, you don't really need to wait three weeks or two weeks for everybody that needs to be in that meeting, that workshop to be available, because he can find chunks of time. Of course, because the calendars are busy, but also because of time zones, right?

Especially you guys that have team members all over the world. You may have like, two or three hours per day only to live collaborate. So people are [00:18:00] starting to realize that they can unbundle workshops. When there's like solo work, there's together work. Solo work, together work, and so on. And people are realizing that by doing this, and of course, saving the time traveling to work they are able to run, in this case a Fortune 10 company CEO group said before the pandemic, "I was able to run one of these workshops for a week.

Now I'm going to have to run seven of these per week." So we're seeing a productivity boost because of two things. One is the digitalization and the possibility to work faster and Amando, but also people that are coining this methodology and using them over and over because they're digital. They're digital, they're there. You press a button, you get started.

Right? And most importantly, people. They use it over and over. You don't need to start the first 30 minutes of your workshop or your meeting explaining what [00:19:00] the method, methods are because you already did your work, teaching them, using them beforehand. And now when you are together, they're ready to go.

And once these methodologies, these templates, these workflows work, they're digital. They'll be there. Copy and pastable. Remember You can check out how some of the best in the business do it, get in there, check them out, copy/paste it, book it into your, into your tool box. I believe there's going to be like a productivity boost after this pandemic, because people are going to be learning from each other much faster and embracing methodologies much faster.

There's of course Tony's his apartment, which is. Understanding it's hard, right? It's hard. There's loneliness. Some people need - the extroverts - need to talk to each other. The introverts might go to the extreme of depression. [00:20:00] So there's a lot of human factors that need to be involved here. That it's about that, that part of like, not, no possibility to build rapport with people and so forth.

There's things that can be done around that. Icebreakers, right? Energizers making time, not just for imagination, but making time for also having fun. I'm playing around. And, and we have a lot of those that we have putting in templates and they can be copied and pasted. So we'll make collaboration from anywhere easy.

It's our job. It's your job as early adopters, as part of our community, to make it easy for the folks that are learning both how to work in this way and doing it remotely in the context of a global pandemic. So we need you, and we asked John to share some of that. Publicis [00:21:00] Sapient has gone through big changes as a company services company that they were used to being in person with the clients, and now they can't and had to adapt to that fast.

And he shared that story there. Of course, same situation. Keep promoting backstage passes. I mean, our team. Bringing in others, by the way, if you're interested in sharing something, please reach out because we want this to be a communal experience. Each one of you has brought like little tidbits here and there that are necessarily to be spread out around the world.

And then there's also already people who have their comments on, which is a stack of the knowledge I need to remember. It's not just technology. It's also methodologies and continued methodologies to become standard through your organization.

Which gets me to facilitation, right? Facilitators and facilitation. [00:22:00] So facilitators, we care deeply about. Why? Well, when we started MURAL, we thought of the type of work that we support as a very peer-to-peer type work. We were all like, I'm a product engineer and designer improvising and jiving together, like a jazz quartet.

But the reality is that we observed, right, people getting into this work. And there was always someone or a few people that were guiding these people, but they were teaching them. They were, like, helping them think differently and so on. And then when people got bands, same. Right. They took them from good collaborators to amazing because they help us navigate these problems really fast.

And the reality is that facilitators, as full time jobs, are going to [00:23:00] becoming more and more popular. But, facilitation as a core competency is something you and I as meeting leaders do all the time; maybe not thinking about it. We may be not preparing properly for the meeting. We might not be good at it. I'm sometimes good and sometimes not that good, to be honest with you; but it's something that we all need because we all work in teams. Right. And even though there's asynchronous work and that will happen. A lot of the time, we'll still be working synchromatically, building on top of each other's ideas, discussing, generating conflict within our half ideas to make something bigger.

So when it comes to facilitation and facilitators, right, we've been embracing this. So, first of all, these are the people that bring in the methodologies and teach them to others. But also, we're seeing a lot of facilitators struggling in this context of this [00:24:00] pandemic. And if you are one of those, reach out to us, because we have a set of programs that we can help you out with gearing up your confidence as a remote facilitator; because there's people that were saying, "No, no, no, I'm great in person with the people. They pay me a lot to do this in person." And now they can't. Right. And they're struggling, but I think that there's going to be a lot. By the way, if you want to hire one of them, let us know, because there's a big community of you guys that we can also connect you with some facilitators.

Right. We made a talk. The conversation with Erin the other day it's going to be published really soon, and they are hiring full-time facilitators. And they have a program on how to hire them, how to find them and what, and how important they are to introduce these methodologies to someone else. Of course, we have facilitation superpowers, right?

Most recent one, one of my favorite features of MURAL to celebrate: pretty hard to celebrate remotely. The other [00:25:00] day, we wrapped up our quarter at MURAL as a company. We shipped boxes to everybody out there with a little mimosa kit, little party poppers and so forth. This is one of the things they told me before for like, the remote work life.

Right. It's really hard to have someone remotely with the party in the back and things like that. Make time for that celebration, too. Brute force it in and also enjoy the rest of the facilitation superpowers. So we give software, but we also give access to the best in the business, right? These guys, so Ross over in the UK, the guys from XPLANE are helping with some of the visuals in this presentation.

And then of course, Randolph at Cantina, and Lee. Officially, Lee has to facilitate meetings in one of the biggest corporations around the world. Right? With a lot of people: 400,000. So, there's different types of people there. So he has a lot of interesting [00:26:00] stories there, how he brings confidence to, to the room. And then, don't forget to check the facilitator superpowers and more on backstage pass.

So how does it all come together? Okay. We leave that. You need to leave space for innovation, right? Imagination work is important and these guided visual methods are way to bring imagination, work, visual work to wherever in your company. We'll keep doing more and more and more thought leadership. 

Thank you for that timer. Now I know I need to wrap it up. New feature with a sound.

 And then collaboration should happen anywhere. We shouldn't be confined to a project room to go to innovate from there. This should be having any moment, any, at all, at all times; and facilitation as a way to level up the collaboration to help us achieve better things together.

This is what we live in. This is where we're obsessed about. This is what we're focused about. [00:27:00] And what we also believe in is that we, you know, I joke around to the Jenny, Jerry Maguire thing; all facilitators out there, all Playmakers out there: you complete us. Right? The software is not, I mean, it's just software, right?

People hire MURAL to help them go through creative problem solving activities with our teams. Of course, there's organization. Of course there's white boarding. And, in the case of either working in, in large organizations; deploy best practice that's key and will the creative confidence or imagination confidence on one side, but also the remote work confidence on the other side. Because it's hard, and it's hard to them all at the same time.

So thank you for listening to me and we need you to keep on going with us so that we can help the rest of the, of the word right now that it's struggling to, to get better at this type of work. And also doing it remote. [00:28:00] So now I think we're going to be going through some questions that hopefully, eh.

Justin: Alright. Thank you, Mariano. That was great. Let me pull up some questions for you, from our audience. I'm going to start with, Eric. Eric had a question and he said, "Hi, Mariano. Fully agree with what you were saying about design thinking. This relates very much to ideation of new products and services, but how about the next step prototyping and building the solutions? Do you have insights to which extent, and how, for example, scrum and agile agile teams use MURAL?"

Mariano: Sure. So I like the quote from Jeff that says something like agile has no brain and it's a little challenging, but the idea behind him is that agile helps us [00:29:00] coordinate into quickly releasing testing with the market.

And of course, a culture of continuous learning and continuous improvement. But early on, it was missing the component around the user. Right? I mean, there was a product owner that had like the, the, the needs, but the nice combination comes with design thinking. Human centered design, humanities center design, anything that helps us observe the desirability right in the market combined with the possibility to execute it properly and fast and iteratively. So yes, we see a lot of agile practitioners getting into MURAL to do two things. One is, do their planning exercises, retrospectives, user story mapping, and so on. But interestingly, they're bringing, they're being brought in also by the [00:30:00] designers and so on.

So that they can be participating more and more and more early on in innovation imagination, because an engineer's mind early on will give a new, a new set of possibilities. That's where the importance of that multidisciplinary team early on, because the ideas shouldn't come just from the designers.

Right? So we're seeing engineers coming in early on and embracing the full thing. So, understanding the problems. I mean going deeper and selecting which ones to focus on, learning more. How to think about the customers and empathizing more, doing alignment diagrams, either customer journey, maps, experience maps, job-to-be-done maps, depending on the team, what they prefer. Then, going into brainstorming possibilities, voting on which ones they're going to go after, and then crafting a blueprint of whatever's going to be their experiments. They're going to be running in the sprint. So, we [00:31:00] like to think that it's like a nice full arc. And then the blog managers out there generally combine that with some sort of plan, like a PI plan or, or a timeline of, of a roadmap of sorts. So you see a combination of use cases in designing, planning ,and agile.

Justin: Pretty good. 

I have a question from Gretchen. Gretchen had this to say, "Hi Mariano. This is great. Thank you. Can you please speak to the fatigue that is also occurring as a result of working from home? We're working all the time on Zoom using MURAL on PowerPoint, et cetera. It's part of how we get people across the chasm."

Mariano: Sure. So yeah, I mean, we are. I mean, we're working from home. We're working remotely, working from home remotely in the context of a global pandemic. Right. So, all right. Let me call on a big team of, of, of [00:32:00] people in Argentina. Argentina is still in lockdown. I mean, these guys are doing an extra effort right now to not go nuts, right? They're locked down in their homes.

Eh, so. Yeah, empathy. Right. So, I mean, that's where it all starts, right? Not only for innovation, but also for your own team. So that's why like, the moments around this icebreakers, sometimes we ask, Hey, how are you feeling today? Right. Or what do you wish to do when the pandemic is over? Or talk a little bit, not just about work but about life, right?

I mean, the reality is that we're all humans, so we don't just work. If we're all working all the time, it's boring. Right? This, I think there is like a, a saying about that, dull boy - or "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" or something like that. So it's just like putting it out there and probably, you don't, you don't need to work as much.

Right? And this [00:33:00] starts from the beginning around flipping it. I'm thinking of it as, eh, objectives and outcome driven and not so much about output. Right? My voice is like this though, because I'm, I'm saying all this, but it has been demanding for me. I've been talking a lot through a screen. I mean, doing speech therapy sessions to help and so on.

How do they know how to speak, speak? And so it's hard. But we tried to make moments. We tried last Friday, we tried to, let's not work today. Let's force it because it's hard. You're always close to the computer, right. You're totally at home. So it is hard. Just embrace it and put it out there, make it a topic of one of their icebreaking exercises.

Justin. you're on mute.

Justin: Sorry about that. The next question we have is from James Thomas. He had that, [00:34:00] he had this to ask: "Where do you see the development of MURAL, as far as the functionality in the tool itself or integration with other tools?"

Mariano: So. We'd like to think of MURAL in, in, in three layers when we think of the product, right?

So there's a visual thinking canvas, right? So the, the diagramming, the tagging, the filtering. We're going to be doing much more cutting. You play with information to cut the, you, I can give you patterns. Maybe like you see things in a different way. We're plugging in with IBM Watson. Very super simple today.

Well find interesting, eh, patterns in images, for example. On the other side, eh, we see a lot around. So, so again, in the sense of, of a, that integrations are key. We're working hard to be able to pull in content and render content from anywhere, right? Pulling in content and render content. Eh, talking about agile, where we're planning a [00:35:00] JIRA integration, that's going to be really, really cool.

Both for backlog grooming, but also for after the session is done to make sure that they have all of your, to-do's and user stories done in JIRA. And there's going to be much more there. To be honest with you, that's one of the areas of the product that it's less advanced than others, but you're seeing what we've plugged in.

Google Drive, there's many things around rendering content. And then the other part of the product that we see, based on the user is this facilitation layer, right? We will be able to answer at the time we were voting. Now we're experimenting with starting codes from the canvas, the celebration that I showed you and so on.

Right? So there's going to be more integrations with calendar, probably. More integrations with, with things that help you hook this part of the, of the working process into whatever workflows you have right now. So expect a lot there. And the other part is, which is key for us for integration, is if you're [00:36:00] using VM interpreting thinking or LUMA, or many other of the, of the methods out there, be able to deploy them at scale and be able to track who's using them.

Give them the tips and tricks, and also be able to connect facilitators with people that might be running meetings. So integration with, call it like a professional network. So there's many more things going on and stay tuned because I'm going to be doing a Q&A session with our team, our head of product, where we're going to be talking about what's next in our product roadmap.

Justin: All right. Next, we have a question from Toby Turk to be asked. "How do you recommend quickly getting a group up to speed with using MURAL when they're coming together for a limited time? So for example, a remote board of directors meeting." 

Mariano: So [00:37:00] you shouldn't introduce MURAL in your remote board of director's meeting, right?

There's too much at stake there. There's tension. You bring them something new and they're going to be like, what is that thing? No, unless you carve out time. In general, though, what we recommend is to do something remotely. It's not, you don't need to wait for the event, you can do the 15 minute session a week before just to play.

Right? And so guys, we're going to be doing a little exercise in preparation for a board meeting next week. We need just 15 minutes of your time and come here, sign up to this thing or not - don't sign up right now. You don't need to sign up to MURAL to use MURAL, right? You know that to the visitors and make an exercise.

So introduce yourself, add a picture of you. Let me draw something with the icon here, right? Ross Chapman put together, an ice breaker that's [00:38:00] available on, which is like a, I mean, dress up your, your doodle. Have them be able to feel comfortable in the Zoom interface, fool around and crack a laugh. So that then when you come to a meeting, you, you have that vibe in it.

And then they feel comfortable in the virtual environment. Don't have them, you know, it's not, there's too much cognitive load needed to learn a new environment, a new tool moving around and pay attention to the actual board meeting. So if you don't have time before that at least carve out time, like the first 15 minutes, 20 minutes to just play around .And people, encourage humor, right?

People like to laugh, like to play. And that would bring a lot of creative juices going. 

Justin: Speaking of creative juices, Mariano, we had a question about music or no music during silent activities.

[00:39:00] Mariano: Oh, play. Experiment. See what your team likes. Right? The good newsL you can ask them, "Hey, did you like the music?" And they say, no, turn it off. Turn it off. 

Justin: So something that you talked about with the, comment about the board of directors or hinted at, and you, you hinted at this in the keynote is asynchronous versus synchronous work.

What do you see as some of the benefits of, of asynchronous work and then what are some of those, some of the challenges that come along with that and how the, how are those challenges being addressed? 

Mariano: Sure. So, first of all, it is needed, right? I mean, I mean, we need to all work solo heads down to actually produce the work, right?

It's not just about thinking, planning, reflecting, innovating, incorporating, creating. At some point we need to build a prototype or a storyboard or a video or a document or a strategy, something [00:40:00] that's actually crafted to be delivered and put out in front of people. So that, that is necessary. Now in the context of meetings, though, there are folks at Steelcase talk about informative, evaluative, and generative moments of meetings or meetings by themselves.

I believe that education is innovated more than a business in the context of the flipped classroom approach. Or they realized early on that it made no sense for lectures or reading or watching videos to be happening in the classroom. The classroom is amazing for project work for actually doing things together.

So, I think that one important thing is like not using the first 30 minutes, maybe an hour of a meeting, to just read through stuff or watch materials or watch a video. It's not necessary. There's, there needs to be discipline to come to a meeting prepared for that, right? So [00:41:00] sometimes, maybe the first step is always, let's use 15 minutes now to touch base.

But the reality is that I've been in a lot of meetings where the first 15 to 30 minutes, I'm very disengaged because I'm aware of the context and the content. And also probably aware of, it's kind of like when you are educating others on what's a customer journey level, whatever I zone out. The reality is like, I don't want to be there.

I mean, I'm not energized, right? So I think that there's room for it to think of the meeting design in a way that you maximize generative and evaluative things to make decisions or to come up with informative things. And that seems to be a good asynchronous mode. Now, the other part about asynchronicity and not big, but small is that best practice that we've seen.

In the same sprint, for example, which is solo post-ops, right? It's important because of multiple things. First of all, you want individuals that [00:42:00] are there, they're there for a reason, right? We want them freely opening up and posting up all of their observations or ideas, first; because if not, it's always the, I mean the most talkative people that get to grab the mic, right?

So we want everybody, even the most introverted people to like, offer stuff, because there's very going to be probably a lot of nice friction. When a lot of different people can post up. So there's also like that, that, that part of synchronous and asynchronous and think it through, think through your meetings. Design your meetings to take advantage of synchronous and asynchronous solo teamwork, informative evaluative and generative moments.

Justin: Right. 

Excuse me. Very good. We'll take maybe two more questions and then we'll wrap it up. A question, a question from Jack, he said, "Hi, how would you explain to your client about [00:43:00] the importance of imagination and its relation to making better work and decisions later?"

Mariano: Sure. So, imagination without this organization makes no sense. Right. So, yeah. And the idea we talk about imagination work, but the reality is it's important to be patient it's important to, to, to put it out there, right? It's inside your head. It makes no sense. So I think that there's exercises for that.

And I think that it's one of the easiest ones, is to do, at some sort of like an empathy map or a customer journey map. Right. You don't need to be, like, really fancy on your drawings and so forth. And that one also it's about empathizing and observing more, more than just creating. So it's easier right.

To observe that. But we see a lot of people saying, "Oh, I didn't think of it that way." When they, they see the diagram. So these alignment [00:44:00] diagrams, maybe they're not super fancy and visual and, and crafted. So it's not what you expect, like imagination. There'll be visualization or what's there and that joint perspective.

It's already enough for them to say, "Oh shit, I understand it." And then you get into the generative imagination; but just do it. It's impossible to talk about this, right? That's a reality. 

Justin: Just do it. We have a, we have a number of questions that, that are about how people could contribute successes to, and share their successes with the community and I'm curious if you had any thoughts on how they might best do that and what you would recommend that they do.

Mariano: So we can help amplify. I mean, how I like a very broad community that people are paying attention; and that care and, so reach out to us or publish it in written format or video, just put it out there.

I don't, don't keep it to yourself. It's [00:45:00] important because of two reasons, one is it gives you confidence. But the other one is that, eh, those stories are going to be the ones that other people pick up in your companies, in your teams and get jealous about. They will want to do it like you, right? So yeah. Put them out there, reach out to our team. We'll help you broadcast them. 

Justin: Very good. I think we're going to wrap up now. Mariano, do you have any, any last words for the audience? 

Mariano: Thank you. Eh, bring in play. Have fun. Work is not about work. Work should be fun. And thankfully we have computers getting better at computing, right? So we're going to be able to outsource the boring part of work.

And most of the work in the future will be around imagination and collaboration. That's [00:46:00] what makes us human, right? Like we always say this. Like we're able to take pictures of the future and communicate with themselves into small teams to be able to innovate. Right? So, eh, yeah, it's gonna get better. It's gonna be fun. Hang in there.

Justin: Thank you everyone for joining us today. We have much more content to share with you from the MURAL imagine program, as well as all the things that we're doing at MURAL. You can find that content at and as Mariano said, if you are interested in sharing things, please reach out to us. We would love to amplify your voices, but don't hold back; and get your voices out there and, build and, and share with the community.

Thank you. And join us again. We'll have more coming soon. 

Mariano: Bye bye. Thank you. [00:47:00]

About the author

About the authors

David Chin

Creative Lead
Creative Lead at MURAL // Moving beyond the pixels to connect intuition, reason, and opportunity.