“Create a better leaf blower” is the prompt Christina Koffskey’s college professor gave her in her introduction to design course. She had just started her mechanical engineering degree, but she never had any interest in creating a better leaf blower. “I had zero interest in a better leaf blower — I quickly realized that mechanical engineering might not be for me,” Christina says. “So I started to look at other kinds of engineering and industrial engineering caught my interest.” It didn’t take long for her to change majors and move into industrial engineering, where she would focus on system efficiencies, automation, and how people interact with technology. That’s ultimately what set her on her path to where she is today — a senior enterprise transformation manager here at MURAL.
Though Christina has always considered herself a logical person drawn to mathematics and the sciences, she’s passionate about people and how they interact with technology. “Because of that, my focus in school was on human factors — that is, examining how to design experiences that match the human experience and take into account our limitations as people,” she explains. “I loved human factors because it was the most people-focused discipline within engineering and combined my logical brain with my passion for people.”
It’s no surprise then, that Christina ended up working in the world of human-centered design (HCD), but she actually got into the field by accident. While she was working on research for her graduate degree, Christina found herself on the same floor as the Human-Centered Design Institute at Emerson. “I was approached to join the group because of my background in human factors — turns out, the two fields complement each other well — and I’ve never left the field since,” she says.
For Christina, HCD is all about putting the focus and emphasis on people over the technology itself. “It turns out I didn’t really care about the leaf blower but I did wonder about the person using it,” she jokes. One thing Christina loves about HCD is that it isn’t prescriptive, but instead provides a framework for tackling problems — it serves as a tool in her toolbox that helps her approach any kind of problem. “HCD is almost like a safety net for me: No matter the challenge, I know that I have the tools to approach it in a systematic way,” she says. And HCD is versatile: Its frameworks can be applied in the home, government, technology, consumer goods, and more. “At the end of the day, HCD puts the spotlight on the person and breaks down the problem space through the lens of what that person is trying to achieve,” she explains. “I’m constantly drawn to that because I’m interested in humans and our experiences,” she says.
It was when she began scaling the practice of HCD across Emerson that Christina first dipped her toes in facilitation. She’d partner with people to empower them to go out and employ frameworks — like HCD — on their own, facilitating workshops and meetings to introduce them to and train them in HCD. “People would experience how productive a human-centered approach made them and get hooked because it provided them a structured approach to solving problems and creating solutions,” she says.
As much as she enjoyed facilitation and introducing people to HCD, Christina lived for watching groups achieve an end result. “There can sometimes be a bit of apprehension when you ask engineers to sketch and ideate on sticky notes for the first time but then they begin to see the team thinking bigger and more broadly than before, aligning and getting agreement faster,” she says. “At which point they’d realize how productive their time together had been, and when they would see the end results — they were sold.”
Throughout her facilitation work, Christina often wondered how she could take in-person facilitated sessions — which involved sticky notes, walking around, and lots of visual collaboration — online. “I was searching for a tool that would enable visual collaboration, digitally — and then I found MURAL,” she says.
Eventually, Christina became an evangelist for MURAL and it became part of her job to ensure teams were successfully incorporating MURAL into their human-centered design practice. “I became a MURAL superfan — of the tool, the company, and the culture,” she says. So when she reflected on her job and what she enjoyed doing, it was HCD, design thinking, facilitating, and teaching people — all using MURAL. “I loved when I had mural-focused meetings on my calendar — it’s when I realized my love of the platform that I decided I wanted to join team MURAL.”
Christina is now a senior enterprise transformation manager at MURAL, where she works to make sure that our members (that’s what we call MURAL users) are successful. “In this context, MURAL is the platform, but members are using it for some reason — to achieve their goals — so I help them grow and seamlessly weave murals into their work so that they can be successful,” she says.
Helping teams become successful can be challenging at times. Going digital is new to many, so Christina works to make it more approachable and easy to learn. She works closely with members as their primary point of contact to resolve issues, build workflows, and get better at using MURAL.
“There are so many uses of MURAL — you’re really only limited by your imagination,” she says. “I personally love using MURAL because it’s where I go to get stuff out of my head and turn it into plans, actions, and results — I love getting to do that with our members, too.”
“One of the things I love about working with MURAL members — and at MURAL — is that I get to put HCD to work every day,” Christina says. For example, the way her team was running meetings wasn’t scaling as the team grew. So Christina got together with a teammate to evaluate what was working and how they might improve the structure of their meetings. They used HCD to find better ways to get the most out of their time together and now have more engaging, interactive meetings.
By applying her HCD approach to everything, whether it’s facilitating client sessions, educating customers on how to get set up using MURAL, or improving the way she works with her team, Christina sees how HCD is embedded in MURAL’s DNA. “I love that we incorporate HCD in everything we do and the way it helps us constantly change how we work together for the better — so we can better serve our customers and build the best version of the future of collaboration, together,” she says.
Interested in joining Christina and applying HCD in your everyday work? Check out our open positions on our careers page.