This is part five of our five-part Better Meeting series.
Welcome to the final part of our Better Meeting series! Before we embark on this victory lap, here’s a quick recap of what you’ve learned in the series thus far:
In section five, we’ll explore the future of work and the vital role collaboration plays within it to lead us to success. Let’s dive in.
If we hope to build a better world — through innovative products, organizations, and businesses — we have to work together. Collaboration is the key, which is why understanding how we collaborate today and how we might collaborate in the future is fundamental to setting ourselves and our teams up for success.
We see the future of collaboration unfolding from two major components. One, the hardware & software that makes collaboration easier; and two, how teams adopt more efficient ways to interact with each other — ways that make teams more productive. Finally, it’s where these two components collide that the most powerful vision of the future becomes clear.
Let’s take a closer look.
When we talk about collaboration tech, we must consider both hardware+software. The two together make collaboration easier and more efficient. We dove into this subject by covering existing remote collaboration technology in Part 3 of this series. As we all know, having the right tech is table stakes for remote collaboration — because if you can’t communicate at a distance, you can’t collaborate.
How do we see this playing out? Whether for fully remote, fully in-person, or hybrid teams, technology will be at the center. Improvements in hardware+software will make remote collaboration faster and reduce friction.
The future of work looks bright with tech on our side. Imagine this: You show up to work in an integrated office, like a studio, where you’re not confined to your chair and laptop/desktop. With the use of advanced tools, you have the ability to walk around the entire space, similar to being on a production set. The camera and audio follow you. It’s like you and your team members are each on your own Ted Talk stages and interact with one another in this way. You use a combination of in-person and virtual tools to deliver the best working experience. This could be the future; an entirely new way to interact with one another in hybrid environments.
While this imagined future may not be here today, we are seeing many advances in hardware+software. For example, consider the following advancements we’re seeing — many of which we are already beginning to experiment:
Looking to upgrade and futureproof your at-home tech setup right now? Here are a three ways you can create a productive workspace:
With your tech squared away, you can focus on doing the work together. Groups need systems to help them work together effectively. You’ll recall we’ve discussed this subject throughout this series. For example, we’ve covered how using visual methods can help guide us as we go about understanding and solving problems. We’ve also explored the benefits of facilitators and the art of facilitation as ways to bring out the best in teams. Systems can help us work together productively time and time again.
Darden professor of Business Administration Jeanne Liedtka has studied how people work together for years. She’s focused specifically on design thinking. You’ll recall from Part 2 that design thinking is a structured approach to turning problems into solutions. Liedtka sees design thinking as a form of “social technology.” What does that mean? Professor Liedtka shared more on the concept during MURAL Imagine:
“If we go back to the actual origin and the meaning of the word technology, technologies allow us to turn knowledge into practical outcomes for design thinking. What we urgently need is a social technology that allows us to deal with the diverse kind of wicked challenges we've got today. And that social technology has to be more than software, as wonderful as MURAL software is. And it has to be more than simple rules like turn-taking. It has to be an entire approach that lets us harness whatever it takes for human beings to have better conversations that allow them to work together to produce better outcomes."
💡 Jeanne Liedtka | MURAL Imagine
Social technology is a structured system that helps teams get the most out of their work together. You might think about it as when a sports team knows how to play together. They know how to combine the strengths of different players, run structured plays, and play better together. The result is they’re more likely to win. When working collaboratively, teams that know how to “run plays” together — getting the most out of each other’s work — are more likely to succeed:
"[By] supplying a structure to the innovation process, design thinking helps innovators collaborate and agree on what is essential to the outcome at every phase. It does this not only by overcoming workplace politics but by shaping the experiences of the innovators, and of their key stakeholders and implementers, at every step. That is social technology at work."
💡 Jeanne Liedtka
“Social technology” need not be limited to design thinking. And similar to hardware+software, we see emerging systems of working together that increase the productivity of teams.
One specific area where you’ll find these focused systems of working together is within workshops. Workshops are facilitated sessions that help focus a team’s energy and imagination for a specific purpose. Here are a few examples:
Now here is where the future gets most interesting: at the intersection of collaborative technology (hardware+software) and collaborative social technology. Today, more than ever before, we’re seeing new discoveries as teams adapt to both, together.
And this is where MURAL is focusing its attention. MURAL offers teams workspaces for visual collaboration — that’s the software (and the hardware can be anything from a Surface Hub to an iPad). And within MURAL there are also means to turn on social technology — through interactive templates. You’ll recall that templates have been used throughout this series — from identifying meeting pitfalls and opportunities to make them better to improving remote team collaboration and honing your own facilitation skills:
Templates offer easily repeatable exercises for teams — you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you want to plan strategically, build a customer journey map, or just run a weekly stand-up meeting. They are a shortcut to bringing some of that social technology into your collaborative sessions. And because MURAL is digital, it’s easy to discover new templates for whatever your team needs to do. It’s also easy to copy and repeat what works. That means you can scale success across your organization, accelerating how your team works together.
Ultimately, what we see at the collision of hardware+software and social technology is the future of team collaboration — a future bright with possibilities.
We began this Better Meeting series with the goal of making meetings better. Starting with addressing the meeting problems most of us face on a daily basis, we dove into the exploration of the systems and processes needed to not only improve meetings but take meetings to the next level. We then explored the concepts visual collaboration, remote collaboration, and the emerging leadership skill of facilitation. Now that we’ve gazed into the future, we’re left wondering, “What’s left to do?” How do we continue to level up as the future unfolds?
Simple. Now is the time to take what you’ve learned and improve how your team works together. Discover a whole library of templates to give your team a social technology boost (See also the Voltage Control template library).
And if you’re interested in seeing how leading teams are making the most of their collaborative sessions, join MURAL Imagine to hear from teams at ThoughtWorks, Spotify, Atlassian, Zapier, and Emerson: Register for MURAL Imagine.
That’s a wrap on our Better Meeting series. Stay tuned for future content series as we expand and explore the ever-evolving future of work and how we can best operate within it to achieve radical results.