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Foster Virtual Team Connections: Webinar Recap

Written by 
Emma Schnee
September 9, 2020

During the month of September, MURAL's weekly Backstage Pass webinars are focused on working with social impact imagination workers. Each week, a new nonprofit or educator joins the MURAL team to engage in a live, collaborative coaching session to address a challenge they've been facing. Register here.


Accelerating Social Transformation is a social innovation leadership program from the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. AST brings together individuals and organizations that are futuristic thinkers and method-driven changemakers working in the social development space.

Their team is partnering with MURAL to adapt their program for remote learning. Throughout this process, they've found that some aspects of live events are easier than others to translate into a virtual space.  

The AST Team recognizes that in previous years, one of the most valuable experiences for program participants was the unstructured time between activities where they could connect with their cohort, network, and bridge together their global group of social innovators. The question then became how to intentionally create this space virtually.

Recently, Genevieve Tremblay, AST learning experience designer, and Benjamin Lee, AST project coordinator, joined MURAL's Hailey Temple and Emma Schnee for a live coaching session. 

In this 60-minute webinar with audience participation, we leveraged the creative capacity of the MURAL changemaker community to problem solve. We started by reframing the challenge as an opportunity for creativity rather than an obstacle of going virtual. Watch the recap below and explore the presentation mural to be inspired by the many different ideas on how to intentionally create meaningful space for participants to connect virtually. 

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Additional resources to explore 🔭

🙌 Learn more about MURAL for Nonprofits and see if your organization qualifies for a free workspace

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💻 Learn more about the Accelerating Social Transformation program

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Backstage Pass: Impact Edition

Visual collaboration experts coach nonprofits and educators making change.

📅 September 11 | How might we build process flows that scale? 

📅 September 18 | Challenge to be announced

📅 September 25 | How might we design virtual immersive experiences? 



Hailey Temple: [00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to MURAL Backstage Pass. I'm Hailey Temple. I'm one of your hosts today and if this is your first time on backstage pass; first of all: Welcome. And this is really a session that is meant to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how top teams collaborate together online to bring you inspiration, help you think about different ways to use MURAL, and to connect with other imagination workers like you. So use the chat to share inspiration, links, and ask questions because we'll be monitoring that throughout. Now, I'm so excited that we're kicking off our session - and this theme for September is called The Impact Edition. So we're working with educators and nonprofit organizations to help them think about how to bring people together online, especially with the pandemic and needing to make that shift towards remote work. So all through the month of September, we're working with organizations and coaching and collaborating and talking about how to make and build those experiences in MURAL. So today, I'm delighted to have Gen, Ben, and Emma with me who are coming from the AST program.

And I'm going to, in a moment, ask them to share a little bit more about their work and  the initiative and our focus today. But before I do that, I always like to invite some people from the audience to participate in our session to help give some guidance, share perspective, and think about different ways that we can all use MURAL in our work.

So, if you would love to join us as a participant [00:02:00] on audio and video; no previous MURAL experience is required. But if you're interested, let us know. Put a big 'all caps' YES in the chat. And as Gen and Ben and Emma kickoff, I'm going to promote some of you to panelists - about four or five of you - and we'll take it from there.

Emma Schnee: [00:02:21] So, for people that are volunteering, Hailey. I just want to add that. So, our big question that we're going to be focusing on today is this: How might we foster virtual team connections? And so, if you have some big ideas coming around then we'd love for you to join us. 

Hailey Temple: [00:02:36] Yeah, absolutely. If you've already. . .  That's a great point. Thank you. If you've done something like this before and have some advice, it'd be great. Perfect. Thank you. Okay, so Gen, welcome. And Ben, welcome. And Emma, who's goning to be my co-host throughout a bunch of these sessions. Tell us a little bit about the program and what we're going to be focusing on today.

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:03:02] Sure. Thanks so much, Hailey and Emma, for having us and inviting us  to this. So, the AST  program is Accelerating Social Transformation. It's a four year program really, or fourth year at the Evans School at The University of Washington. And it's essentially a social innovation leadership development program. And under normal circumstances, we'd be fielding a cohort of about 30 from mostly the United States, but from also other countries, in person for a five-day sorta compressed experience. You know, this condensed, really rich experience of learning and field work and, introducing them to things in the region. And then, obviously because of constraints, we have jumped to a new model. It's a three week program. It's completely remote and we're using MURAL to, [00:04:00] really create the framework for the asynchronous and synchronous experiences that we're trying to queue up. And some of the advantages have been, of course, that we're fielding an entirely global cohort now. There's people from 12 different countries coming. We have about 50 participants this time. And of course, we had all our partners and funders step forward so that everybody could join for a much more affordable cost than flying here and taking the course. So, there have been some silver linings in the shift to online, and we're really looking forward to sort of amplifying the immersive aspects of the program. So that's a little bit in a nutshell. 

Hailey Temple: [00:04:44] Wonderful. Thank you. And did you want to share a little bit more here or where's the best way to. . . ?

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:04:53] Yeah. So, if you want to zoom in just a little bit. We had the great fortune of being introduced to Emma Schnee from MURAL who has onboarded us and also gotten us very familiar with how to use the tool and how to really start laying out what are the bones of the program in MURAL. So, huge, thanks to Emma for being part of our whole experience. We had the components laid out, so the program overview is on there. And if you want to back out just a little bit to this area here with the map and the cohort, that's going to be a way that we bring in, invite the cohort; even before the program begins. Emma is going to do an onboarding experience with them where their profiles are going to be there. Then, they're also going to be mapping themselves so that at a quick read, people can understand where everybody's coming from. The [00:06:00] program itself - you can zoom back out again - the session calendar is sort of where the real mechanics of what they're going to be doing for each day; so that's not completed yet. But the idea is they understand the flow of the method of what we're moving them through in the way of the learning experience; but also, all the details of where they're supposed to be. The toolkit resources and even a sort of feedback channel here, so that as these things progress, there'll be a way for us to quickly capture sort of a general feedback on everything. And then, if you move to the right a little bit - zoom back out again - the jewel in the crown of the experience has always been these virtual field trips that we do. So what we're introducing them to is sort of the philanthropic community here in the Northwest and really innovative approaches to philanthropy and social impact work here. So, what we have done in the past is we actually rent the University of Washington's football bus, the bus that the football team uses, and we jump in that bus and we go. We spend a day going to each of these sites and learning from all the thought leaders at the Gates Foundation, Microsoft philanthropy, Tableau, and Vulcan. And what happens is Akhtar Badshah, who is the founder of the program, really uses that time on the bus to frame the experience that's going to happen, to pair up people on the bus. And so they sort of are given prompts and it is the juiciest part of the program; where they're getting the opportunity to connect to each other. And then, on the way back, they're getting an opportunity to connect their experience to what they're [00:08:00] learning in the program. So, our team was thinking if we could work on anything with you today, it would be how do you creatively approach creating experiences like that where you're creating using metaphors and creating mechanisms for people to connect to each other, remotely, in imaginative  ways? If you just zoom out for a sec and go to the bottom here . . .  Later in the program, there's two other components; one of which is going to be a completely immersive design charrette. That's also going to be happening in MURAL and we're working with Avanade on that as well. So we're in the process of building with them now. That'll be slid into this MURAL as sort of a "jumping off" place for their culminating, immersive experiences that'll be happening also in MURAL. We'll have to be on another day. We'll come back. We thought that the opportunity might be, given the theme that you guys put forth, around creating virtual connections. 

Hailey Temple: [00:09:16] Awesome. I love it. Thank you. Thank you for the overview, too. And the wonderful MURAL that you've designed. We were talking about this before the call, but this MURAL looks amazing with all the branding and stuff like that, too.

So, I'm going to bring us back over and also welcome our panelists. So we have Andreas, Cassidy, Lauria - oh, I so apologize if I mispronounce anyone's name - Debbie, Linda and Jim who are all joining us today, so welcome. And you guys are going to act as kind of consultants, in a way, to our team here to help provide advice, ask questions, and share some [00:10:00] experiences, too.

As Gen was talking, making this experience of building connections between sessions more engaging. As Gen was saying, the challenge that we have here is that the bus trips during and between these in-person visits are no longer an option, right? Everyone's global, they're calling in across this month-long experience. So how do we bring this international group together to build meaningful relationships? What I'm going to do is invite just our panelists right now into this MURAL and I'm going to send it in the Zoom chat right now and you guys can start joining. And what I'd like to do is give our panelists, some opportunities to do a little bit of research. So, basically I want to give us some time to think about Emma and Ben and Gen as the people advocating for these students and creating this experience and coming from a very human centered design perspective; understanding what their needs are, to create that virtual experience. So you guys as panelists are kind of the interviewers and you are asking Gen and Ben and Emma as the interviewees, some questions. Let's set a timer maybe for about five minutes to ask questions. And what I'm going to ask the team to do: if you are not asking a question, I'd like you to use this bus space here to capture notes.

So if we have a bunch of sticky notes here, start capturing some of those key points and things you're [00:12:00] hearing on this bus. Does that make sense? Thumbs up if you're ready to go. Okay, cool. And I know another thought to another option is if, rather than just doing the bus, an empathy map might be a good option as well. Maybe a better way to think about it, but what do you guys think? And I'll ask Gen and Emma: what makes more sense? 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:12:31] You know, I'm not sure. Maybe leave both and then people can gravitate to the one that they think makes more sense.

Hailey Temple: [00:12:44] Yeah. Sounds good. Okay so I'll ask our panelists here to unmute if you have a question. I'm trying to think of the best way to do this. If you have a question, why don't you raise your hand and that way we're not worrying about talking over one another and we can start asking questions in that way. Oh, Lauria. Thank you. Oh my gosh. She put the pronunciation in her Zoom screen. Thank you for doing that. Alright, so I'm going to give us about five minutes to start. We can always add more time, but panelists or additional coaches: what questions do you have right now about the program and this bus experience?

Lauria, go ahead. 

Lauria Lindauer: [00:13:38] What is the one thing that they love the most about the bus that you can recreate? 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:13:45] I would sa y two things: it's a very compressed, [00:14:00] environment where Akhtar can sort of thread one experience to the other and he has everybody's attention in a way that shuffling from place to place doesn't really capture. So there is somewhat of a delivery of that, which I'm not sure how that's going to factor in. But the other would be, honestly, it's the first time that they're getting one-on-one with each other. They're all coming from very different places. So a lot of it doesn't necessarily have to do with the content of the program. It just has to do with the human connection and finding commonality and learning about what everybody's working on. Most of them are social impact, social innovators, and social entrepreneurs; so a lot of sharing goes on around what they're working on. Thank you. 

Emma Schnee: [00:14:58] I kind of agree with that where it's structured unstructured time where you're getting to meet these people, where you're not just interacting in an activity or something like that. And so it's creating that space for people to interact naturally, and connecting people that way. And Gen, once you had mentioned as well, when not only going to the site visits, but also when you're leaving the site visits, it's kind of a time to debrief, in an unstructured way with your fellow cohort members.

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:15:35] Yeah, exactly. The question is, can they access the MURAL or is that just for the panelists? I'm not sure. 

Hailey Temple: [00:15:48] It's just for the panelists. Yeah, for right now. But if those that are in the audience have questions that you want to ask as well, feel free to put that in the chat and we will [00:16:00] be sure to answer them as well. Alright, Jim.

Jim Kalbach: [00:16:04] I've got some questions and often I start with some basic kind of logistical things. I thought that was a great question, Lauria, but I want to maybe simplify things first, with what's the number of people that are on the bus? And then, what's the number of people that are going to be doing this remotely? Sometimes people think, "Oh, great. I can do it remotely. There's no limit anymore." So the bus might have a natural limiting effect. And then, anything that you plan or do, you multiply that by 10 and then suddenly, it's a different thing. So I just want to know, logistically, how big is the bread box? 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:16:41] Well, the breadbox has gotten bigger and part of me didn't want it to get bigger because we are sort of building the plane as we fly it, but the other aspect is, why not? So we've gone from maybe about 36 participants, but then, there were probably five more people from the program on the bus. It was around 45 to build, probably 10 or 15 more than that. Not too many more. 

Jim Kalbach: [00:17:12] It's not like, so not an order of mass magnitudes more. Okay. So great. So 50, 60 people. So, so that's kind of a little bit about the team. And then the tools that you're going to be collaborating with online in the virtual setting; do you have any sense of that? It'll be MURAL and then you're going to be doing Zoom. Is that what it is?

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:17:34] And teams. We're using teams. So, yeah, it's going to be sort of a whole pallet of, some traditional presentations. Imperative is providing a whole peer mentoring platform. So throughout the program and before they arrive as well as at the end, they're going to [00:18:00] be matched with people, on another platform, where it's actually a beautiful platform for supporting each other in the process and various sort of content materials. And then in person, we use liberating structures; we use appreciative inquiry, design thinking. I would say those three methods.  

Jim Kalbach: [00:18:26] That great. Yeah. Teams doesn't have as good of a breakout function. You usually have to do some work around there. I already saw somebody mentioned breakouts, so that's why I wanted to know the technology because that allows for or limits some of the things that we're going to come up with. Oh, I'm sorry, Hailey. I'm going to give my time to  another paneliss. Thank you.  

Hailey Temple: [00:18:47] No, I wanted to make sure that I'm putting  timers on to do a quick check-in as well. Like what do we know so far? So, I'm collecting some of the questions on the windshield of the bus that's coming from the audience. So what do we know? We know how many students there will be, or participants there will be. We know some of the different tools they're using. We know it's some of the value already of that bus experience. What are some other things from the team? I want to make sure we're filling out what we know so far - what you're hearing that maybe is not captured here yet.

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:19:31] Is that a question for me? 

Hailey Temple: [00:19:32] No, no. For our panelists. Debbie, I think I see you have something, but you're on mute. Or you're not on mute - the audio is not working. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:19:42] Hailey, I just wanted to introduce Ben, too. There's some questions about Teams and Zoom and Ben is going to be orchestrating sort of the tech end of the integration of all of that. We are aware that Teams has some [00:20:00] limitations, which we're in the middle of figuring that out as well. 

Hailey Temple: [00:20:03] Gotcha. Okay. And Cassidy had a question as well, or a comment for both of you. Go ahead, Cassidy. 

Cassidy Browning: [00:20:11] In terms of the value, I was going to say, and I think policy needs to be touching on this in the comments; but the randomness that happens. The organicness and something that's really hard to duplicate virtually because we have to do so much intentionally. So trying to think, how can that unique part of the experience be maintained when we're having to craft everything so intentionally? So, that seems like a particular value that was mentioned. 

Hailey Temple: [00:20:37] Yeah. The random aspect. I want to make sure that was a question. But they would randomly get on the bus and they're not assigned?

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:20:55] Yeah. 

Benjamin Lee: [00:20:57] We also are going to be creating with this on our MURAL, eventually. The more randomness and maybe sitting next to someone at lunch, or we're going to grab the coffee after a session. Instituting breakouts rooms that people can move into on our team site that we have links to on our MURAL; where after a debriefing session, they'll take 15, 30 minutes at maximum to go in and can randomly jump into a room with everyone and sort of discuss what we covered in the day, what the session was like; particularly after a site visit, as well, to go over that. Maybe mimic that "bus life" feel. 

Emma Schnee: [00:21:35] I agree. That is the important distinction between just putting people into breakout rooms and letting people choose where they're going and who they're going; not necessarily who, but kind of what topics they're going to be talking around. Having that choice of brains, that organic piece. Back to the equation. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:21:59] Well, and the other [00:22:00] piece too, and this folds in the role that, onboarding and the sort of pre-work that happens in building a cohort. If you've ever gone to a conference and you arrive and you don't know anyone there; as opposed to, I've been to conferences that sort of pre-pollinate the community before you arrive. So when you get there, you sort of know, "I want to make sure I bump into this person. I want to make sure I go to that session." You sort of have a map in your mind of an affinity group of people that you might magnetize toward. And I think what we're going to be trying to do in the weeks prior with some of the exercises; we're going to be doing a peer matching. The pairing up of the cohort to try to catalyze that a little bit before the event happens, because that's - and I like the combination of random - where you get matched with somebody you don't know. And then also by the end of this idea of more intentional, groups forming or connections forming; I think they're both really good to have. 

Hailey Temple: [00:23:14] Awesome. Okay. So thank you guys for sharing thus far. Do you want to give us another chance to ask questions? We have some great ones coming in. In the meantime, I know, since this is a little bit of a session on-the-fly, I wanted to make sure I was properly organizing everything, too. So here's what I did: I have questions that are coming in from the group and from the audience here on the bus about the bus experience. And then, we can capture insights and observations based on Gen and Ben, your thoughts; and Emma, your perspectives on this empathy map. And then we already have some ideas from the audience and from participants here. And so if you have ideas based on what you're hearing, please make sure you add them there. [00:24:00] And so that way we have kind of three different spaces on this MURAL to capture. Does that make sense, team? I'm just wondering. I need to make sure we have space for everything.

So, another question. I love this one from Debbie. Then, we'll keep going through these. I'm going to set another five minutes or so. When people get off of the bus, what do you want them to feel? Whether it's just like the metaphorical, the digital virtual bus, or the real bus when you guys were in person?

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:24:39] Well, obviously, anticipation on the bus to a destination. Then, coming back is a very different experience because they have just been introduced to our partners. Our partner venues are really robust and they involve so many different kinds of presentations and sharing out of what is going on with many projects all over the world. So, it's a lot of information to be processing. I would say the way back would be, maybe, you don't want them to be overwhelmed; but really filled up with information that needs to be processed. And so that's why the trip back might even be a different exercise than that trip to; because you're sort of having a different experience to process. That's actually a really good question. I mean, I was thinking of them of maybe being the same exercise, but now that they pose that question, it really makes me think differently about it. 

Hailey Temple: [00:26:00] Yeah. Okay. Is this when you're saying, I guess I want to make sure I'm differentiating what we want them to feel versus what they do feel and be mindful of that. And Jerone asked also in the chat, if there is an anecdote you have about the bus experience, whether that's. Yeah from pass sessions. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:26:24] Well, I'd have to think about that for a second, but I would say, the first part of that question anticipation on the front end, inspiration on the backend. I mean, if you were to really say what you want them to come and leave with that, that would be it.

But being overwhelmed in the process is usually sort of what happens because they, are introduced to so many exciting things all at once. And an anecdote, let me work on that one. Yeah. 

Hailey Temple: [00:26:58] And Ben maybe in, and Emma I don't know if you guys have been on that trip before, if you have something and a story you might have.

Benjamin Lee: [00:27:08] Unfortunately, I have not. This is my first year with AST. So kind of in the throngs of a virtual worker. 

Hailey Temple: [00:27:15] Nice. Or even things you're hearing from...

Benjamin Lee: [00:27:17] Gen and I actually have never met. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:27:20] I know all my, all my relationships are all so virtual now. I mean, if you were to ask any of the participants about their experience on the bus, it would really be, it would be connected to, to Octar Badshaws, it's sort of when he delivers, like the sermon on the Mount, you know, I don't know what it is about the environment of the bus that, where things sort of get crystallized, but, And just being on the bus and it's the, you don't football, but I don't [00:28:00] know what it is about it, but, it is a really interesting, little incubator, where a lot of stuff happens.

So that's. That's why I just, when I was talking to, I think it was Emma and Hailey in the beginning, you guys really grabbed onto the bus idea. And so, yeah, somehow re-imagining that in a virtual way is sort of a fun thing. 

Hailey Temple: [00:28:27] Yeah. So Lauria you had, you had your hand raised another, another question or comment?

Lauria Lindauer: [00:28:34] Yeah, but I just want to make sure that I'm completely understanding your, what, you know, your pain point. Cause I heard two different things. I just wanna make sure I'm on the right page to clarify. Is it that you're trying to recreate the bus experience online or are you also heard something I thought of when they're in between. Just want to clarify the pain point you're having. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:28:56] Well, I don't even know that it would, I would necessarily describe it as a pain point other than really the challenge of the whole program, in this format is how do we create connections? It's sort of the theme of the day is, you know, it's. It's entirely possible to deliver many of the things we've already created or the things that we will create.

It's entirely possible to supply them with resources. It's entirely possible possible to connect them to, speakers. But the piece that where we just want to craft properly is, the ability to really make personal connections and, and build sort of this community, you know. 

Lauria Lindauer: [00:29:44] Is that throughout the, you want connections throughout the program?

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:29:48] Yeah. I mean, the bus just being, we sort of picked that for the, for the exercise, but of course we want those experiences integrated throughout. 

Hailey Temple: [00:29:58] Right. Yeah. Okay. 

Emma Schnee: [00:30:02] It's usually the bus rides too aren't just one experience, because there are usually multiple site visits. And so it's kind of this back and forth that they're going throughout the program. And so it's that, I guess the bus ride is the common theme between them, but it is just that time to connect.

Hailey Temple: [00:30:25] That makes sense. okay. So another, check-in here to think about this. So we have, and it sounds like there are kind of two different potential experiences to think about, there's the anticipation when you're setting up to go to the visits and at the same time, that anticipation is a point for them to connect.

As, as student, participants apologies. I keep thinking of it's university. So it's students, but their participants, while they're going there. And then on the way back from this site visit experience, it's when they're processing a lot of information, they're kind of unpacking it with their bus partner and they might be feeling a little bit overwhelmed, but ideally we want.

You as a, as the program coordinators want them to feel inspired to bring this into their own work or to drive for initiatives. So, I'm trying to think in terms of the purpose of this session is to think about creating connection. Is there one facet that you want to focus on either building anticipation or building and creating moments for inspiration? 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:31:55] Or even you know, I just, when mean, I'm reading some of these comments and it's, [00:32:00] someone said something like multiple buses, like, you know, like where I was thinking. I think we, we all were thinking because of the way the bus is structured, you get on the bus and two people sit next to each other that's just the way the bus is set up. 

But once again, given a virtual scenario, you know, they could be taking separate Uber's, you know, and it could be four people, just the mechanics of how we would, create that experience. It's just interesting to hear people's thoughts on that? Oh look somebodys putting bus rides. I love that. That's so awesome. 

Jim Kalbach: [00:32:36] I've got a quick question on that point, just to clarify how many of the people that will be in the virtual one have experienced the bus in the past or will these all be...

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:32:46] Oh it's all new.

Jim Kalbach: [00:32:48] It's all new people. Okay. Because I was thinking there might be a, like a mental connection to the, Oh yeah. I remember the bus experience, but we don't need to overkill the bus metaphor.

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:32:57] No, no, not at all. That's what I mean. It was more of a I'm using metaphor in a virtual space, seems to be, it just catalyzes, tangible thinking about how you craft these experiences. 

So right. Right. So it's more, yeah, the theme is around that connection and then the bus being a point for that. But since this is of course a stretched, essentially this program is virtual and stretched over a longer period of time.

It's important to think about how do you do that for this, this global group who've never met. And they need to feel that connection throughout and given a working in MURAL and teams, they're going to be listening to presentations, across the four weeks. It's, it's important to think about the, that thread throughout the program.

Jim Kalbach: [00:33:57] Another quick question from Cecilia that was [00:34:00] in the Q&A, Hailey, it was how many time zones you said it's a global team, but is there, what is the range that we're talking about? 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:34:07] We have people coming from every continent. So, we're, we're starting at, I think eight in the morning and trying to accommodate, there will be some people that, are, it's not ideal, but that, that was, we were trying to, you know, hit a spot that would, would work for everybody. That specific, Pacific time we're starting, I think between seven and eight in the morning. 

Hailey Temple: [00:34:37] Okay. 

Emma Schnee: [00:34:39] And one more question also in the chat, is, will this be happening towards the end of the learning experience or will it be kind of throughout because that can change a lot, the dynamic that's happening if it's at the, on the first day or it's... 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:34:55] They will have it's I would say it's sort of in the middle, but it's more on the, closer to the end than the beginning. And it's, so the whole program sort of meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays for several times. And then this chunk happens like four days in a row of one of the weeks. One day they go one place the next day, the next day, the next day. And again, somehow possibly having the, the MURAL experience, be so there's the one on one connection piece of it.

But then when I think more about, what could happen. There could be a way in which the, the unpacking of that happens so that it's visible to all of it. You know, everybody's unpacking because becomes visible to the whole group, in some way as well, if it can serve both of those purposes, I don't know if that's overloading it or maybe at the very end, there's something that's more of a joint, experience that they have to sort of. [00:36:00] Stitch all their, findings together. 

Hailey Temple: [00:36:05] Okay. Interesting. So what I think makes sense and being mindful of time. I think we already have some awesome ideas on here and I want to, take some of these given the context that we have as well. What I'd love to do is have our, our panelists and you guys in the audience keeps sharing your ideas.

And, I'd love to do some sort of like a brainstorming their opportunity kind of ideate or start visualizing even better. What this might look like. So if you're in the audience and you have an idea, keep dropping them in the chat and Emma, I'm going to ask for your actually and Ben too.

I'm gonna ask for your help to capture these sticky notes, the ideas from the audience as sticky notes and put them on the ideas section. And then our panelists, you guys are going to have a little bit of a different experience. What I would love to do is give each of you an area. To start visualizing what this experience for these students, participants, oh my gosh, might look like. 

So I'm going to make a bunch of areas down here and invite you to claim one of them by putting your name at the top of them. So for example, Jim, I'm going to put you here. Cassidy here. And I'm what I'm going to do is give you time to start visualizing what this experience might look like.

Now, when I say visualize, you could do this in MURAL, and using icons shapes, images, things like that. You could sketch it. If you're not confident [00:38:00] using MURAL yet, that's okay. You could do it on a piece of paper and hand draw something, but start to create a really wonderful visualization of what this experience may be for this group of participants coming together again, from across time zones, they are looking as part of the program is to build inspiration, to build connection.

And how, how, what might that look like? So, what I'm going to do is give, does that make sense? Everyone have any, anyone have any questions? Everyone has a spot. I see. Cassidy has one. Andreas has one. 

Lauria Lindauer: [00:38:44] I have a question. 

Hailey Temple: [00:38:45] Yeah. 

Lauria Lindauer: [00:38:46] So is it that we're going to build just any experience, how to have connection throughout the program or specifically to recreate the bus? Cause I'm hearing like different things. 

Hailey Temple: [00:38:55] Yeah. That's a great point. And Gen, you can correct me if I'm wrong. I think it might be more beneficial based on what I'm hearing is to talk about connection throughout the program. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:39:06] Yeah, I think so. The bus was sort of an example, but these methods will probably be sprinkled throughout, especially if they're effective ones.

Lauria Lindauer: [00:39:16] How long is it? So that's, I missed that part when I was switching. How long has the program? 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:39:21] It's three weeks. It takes place over three weeks. Not every day. It's sort of like, two days a week, two days a week, four days a week, two days a week, something like that, but it's, it's more, it's sort of got stretched out like a string of pearls rather than a very, a compression model of five intensive days.

Emma Schnee: [00:39:46] And maybe we can start clustering ideas too if there aren't more in chat. 

Hailey Temple: [00:39:50] Yeah, let's do that. So while the team is building their visuals, I'm going to start, I'm going to give everyone about four [00:40:00] minutes to start creating a visual. Let's cluster and review some of these ideas and keep them coming in. Alright. So this is a question that our sites along the route, I'm going to move through these questions over here.

So Emma, what cluster, what similar concepts are you seeing pick them in? 

Emma Schnee: [00:40:18] So there's some of them, or just the like take taking seats on the bus and having it be very much like the bus being the space. So like bus being analogy, participant discussion teams, it's kind of like a seat on the bus. 

Hailey Temple: [00:40:37] Yeah, I know what Paul said earlier, did something like that a couple weeks ago in a backstage pass where it was a table and everyone grab a seat at the table. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:40:46] That's a good one. 

Emma Schnee: [00:40:47] That's what I'd heard. And then the tables have different like zoom links or team meeting links. 

Hailey Temple: [00:40:53] Yeah. I'm just using the content library to share the table analogy. Yeah, it could be the seats in the bus. 

Benjamin Lee: [00:41:01] I think that would be helpful too. We were considering having on our main MURAL board links to different channels within teams. And they can be these maybe like differentiated by time of this is just a coffee room or a coffee channel. People who move into for a five minute, just catch up or discussion or refresher. And then other rooms can be more of an actual dialogue that they, that they hold that we'll have different rooms for that, which is good idea. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:41:27] The other distinctive feature of the program too, is, people are working on, there's a sort of personal development aspect to it and a professional development aspect to it.

So there's an assessment that they do before they arrive that really, sort of as an analytic that, assesses their, strengths as, as leaders and what scale they work at. And so. All along when they're being exposed to, different projects and things that might map to things they're working on as [00:42:00] professionals, there's this other more personal, process going on as well.

So they're also working on that. Some, some, people use this program as their, they want to move into the social impact space from, from another domain. So, that's why some of the personal connections really, are personal, you know, they're not just professional project based. So I just thought that would be interesting for you guys to know about as well.

There is an example, this isn't a bus story, but this is a perfect example of what might happen in our program. One of the participants is from India and he runs a, an orphanage in India and, he and his wife run the whole thing. I think there's I over 75 children at this orphanage. And, one of the other participants, ended up in the same year that, that they were together in the cohort, flying to India and visiting him in the orphanage.

He works for another sort of nonprofit. So these, this kind of bonding over, both professional and personal stuff really gets ignited.

Hailey Temple: [00:43:17] That's really neat. What a cool group to bring together to, like you were saying, usually it'd be in person. And so if there's limiting factors of course, for travel, but being able to have a global community together.

Just taking things and clustering and naming here and keep adding your ideas crew. So a lot of so far talking about like different channels for different topics, having this idea of like, a passport or bus ticket in a way. So you get on and get to know each other, you know, like a passport for each visit.

There's a gallery walk idea. That looks really neat. So maybe you could even, you use MURAL to [00:44:00] capture for people to capture insights or observations from each presentation. Then there's like a walk around the MURAL to see what people captured. Yeah. And having discussion space for that.

Yeah. And to our panelists, how are you guys doing? Is, do you need more time? Do you have, your ideas shaped? Okay. So I'm going to give everybody about, let's take like, like I'll start the timer for a minute. Let's see how much time we need, but, let me know that you're ready to share by giving the little cursor party.

So basically like bouncing your cursor up and down around your area. Let me know. I love the cursor dance party. 

Lynda Baker: [00:44:48] My board froze and I'm trying to recapture my images. So yeah, I'm, take a look and... But on my end I see you there. I see you. 

Hailey Temple: [00:45:13] How about if you refresh your, your browser? 

Lynda Baker: [00:45:22] That'd be a good idea. 

Hailey Temple: [00:45:25] That might help it. Help you refresh and get back in the, in the MURAL again. 

Emma Schnee: [00:45:30] Hailey, could you also send a, view only visitor link to the audience so that people can zoom in and out and be able to actually see the ideas we're working on. 

Hailey Temple: [00:45:43] Sure thing. Alright, here we go. Everyone. I'm just giving you a view only link. All right. So Cassidy and Lynda, did that work, refreshing your browser? 

Lynda Baker: [00:45:55] I'm always free to demonstrate the things that can happen when [00:46:00] someone not going with the flow. And so you don't have to pay me extra for that. 

Hailey Temple: [00:46:05] I appreciate you so much. Cause it happens. It's that's what that's life happens. I participate. Absolutely. All right. so I'm going to ask all of us to all of you to follow me. And Cassidy, I'm going to give you a minute to tell us about your, your idea and your concept.

Cassidy Browning: [00:46:28] So, I decided to stretch the bus metaphor more. so my idea was, sort of the seats on the bus. If everybody's sort of claimed a seat, if they had an area that they could work on, they can personalize it. I love a baret moment, so I chose that. I kinda for Shae, who is my, my user persona for this.

And I, I like to create spaces for my team where they can add things, throughout a process. And so things like the connections being made, things you want to remember in terms of ideas and people. and then I also really love the power of a peak moment. So at the end of a workshop experience or, a project to make sure that we sit and try to think about, what's it, what's a great peak moment.

And how can you record that? And how can you talk about that in thick descriptions to really make sure, we remember those things and celebrate those moments. and then that could be something that then, is a shared moment at the end where people can walk through. So that kind of gallery moment, that people could do that synchronously or asynchronously depending on how you want to create that.

Hailey Temple: [00:47:32] Wonderful. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:47:33] That's awesome. 

Hailey Temple: [00:47:35] All right. Let me see im going to zoom back out. Who's next. Show me with your cursor party. Okay. Who we see here? I see a lot of visiting. I see Lauria, Lauria I apologize. All right. I'm remembering. Lauria here we are. I'm going to ask everyone to follow me and I'll give you one minute. Go for it. 

Lauria Lindauer: [00:47:59] I [00:48:00] have a bunch of ideas, but in an interface I blocked the introduction that I, I use at the top right here is people come into the room and then you put them in groups and they introduce themselves and everyone's in twos and they introduce each other.

And then you put two more people in the room, it just grows to four. And then they do introductions and they introduce themselves the fun way. And then it grows to eight. And then. They introduced each other. Another one really quick as small triads is between in between there and these little groups and they meet together, they might have a meeting of what they've learned, you know, things like that.

Here's an introduction put who they are and where they're from on a map. here's another one called breaking news. They create these newsletters about who I am, some personal, what I want to learn. And it's like breaking news. It's all about me. And they can create that in MURAL. And there's video chats in between.

They're just like, Hey, this is what happened. There's so many Flipgrid. There's like videos in between. This is what I learned is a quick way to throw something up there. 

Hailey Temple: [00:49:02] Yeah. Nice. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:49:03] That's great. 

Hailey Temple: [00:49:06] So many, I love it. You went for like quantity or they're just so cool. Just giving us different things to work with.

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:49:13] I like the three idea, the idea of a triad is, is, you know, rather than a pair. That's great. 

Lauria Lindauer: [00:49:19] It's a good connection. I've done these cohorts a lot. 

Hailey Temple: [00:49:23] It's really cool. All right, who is next? Jim? I think I heard you say that you were you're ready to roll. 

Jim Kalbach: [00:49:32] Yeah, I have a little bit of a storyboard. I'd be ready to go. Let's see if I can do this in a minute though. 

Hailey Temple: [00:49:37] Oh, let me ask you guys to follow me. Sorry about that. 

Jim Kalbach: [00:49:39] Well, this is very much related to the thing we did in our retreat Haliey, so, recognize some of this copying a little bit. Then my timer started. Oh, so everybody gets a passport and a unique stamp that is in a category.

So my stamp might be orange, which represents one of the professional themes that, that might are relevant to the program. [00:50:00] And then in the second step, we put everybody into small groups, maybe it's two or four and they ask the other person a personal question, like, what's your favorite pandemic recipe?

Or where do you want to go on vacation after the pandemic's over? And then when they all answer that I get their stamp. So it's going to end up like a bingo because the stamps will then be in a different kind of category. And then, in the, at the end, sorry, I'm moving zoom over here. I can't move zoom. And then in a separate round, then you organize into groups by those topics.

So those themes, and then you have a discussion round around that topic. But before you begin doing that, you have to tell one of the best answers that you heard on behalf of that person to the rest of the group. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:50:43] Oh, Oh, I love that. That's fun. Yeah, we did this in our, our MURAL virtual company retreat and it was a really, really fun.

Benjamin Lee: [00:50:53] Is this like a fast paced sort of a activity as well? 

Jim Kalbach: [00:50:57] Yeah. It's steps one and two is almost like a speed dating thing. So it was like, you got five minutes, you put five people in. Everybody has to answer questions. You get stamped, you go on to the next one. You do that again. So that's going for volume, a volume of people. And then the second round is a little bit more slower pace. And you talk about the topic. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:51:14] Oh, wow. I do think sometimes the speed really. I don't know it, It just incites the best. You'd get sort of a really robust kind of response when you compress the time. 

Hailey Temple: [00:51:30] Absolutely. All right. Thank you so much, Jim. All right. Andreas, so you ready? All right. Ready? One minute. Let's do it. 

Andreas Naletto: [00:51:44] Sure. Can you zoom out? Yes. Fantastic. Okay. All right. So hello everyone. This is Andreas from Verona, Italy. It's nearly 7:00 PM here. nice to be with you. I just brainstormed a bit. I just [00:52:00] moved away a little bit from the sort of analogy with the bus.

I was just thinking about activities that I've been doing face to face. How would I do it online to create a sense of community and companionship. so I think, one idea, one idea is to do some, a lot of mindfulness and sort of even yoga activity, stretching activities that kind of would. relax and, even make funny poses and people will laugh and, and, and, some connect, you know, after hours people could teach each other how to cook a local dish or to sing a song.

They could go beyond sort of the, the, the content of the daily sort of interactions. And an idea could be to have a program they want to mentor or rotating. So you don't have to stick with the same person for four weeks. you know, the idea to have frequent, energizing and breakers, like the ones where present from my colleagues.

Another idea is to have after hours group networking sessions, so not exclusively focused on group works, but also to hang out and, you know, similar to the virtual happy hours of coffee, coffee hours, then, you know, have a, to take a virtual empathy walks. you know, it could be a stretching, the think pair share activity, lots of pair activities so that people would feel more comfortable even, especially if they're on speaker, turn on the speakers and the speaker for language and speaking in pairs in front of everyone, speaking in planner in front of her one may be, and, having a lot of meaningful loop works, so that people can again, maximize the time, spent in groups and connect and make lots of, laughs and, work. So that will be my idea. 

Hailey Temple: [00:53:45] Wonderful. Thank you. Yeah, this is the same, the quantity, the number of things you could do here is incredible. And I kind of, yes and attitude, that is you could have Ben and Gen say to people like, what, is there something that you like to do [00:54:00] outside of work as a hobby, let us know.

And if you're willing to coordinate that for the group, like I did that once for a company retreat where I was like the group run coordinator, I'm going for a run in the morning or yoga or cooking or something. It's really neat. Alright. 

Benjamin Lee: [00:54:14] Someone said they like the physical, engagement or buying too, which is really hard to get. So that's great. 

Hailey Temple: [00:54:20] Yeah. Being mindful of the people sitting at their desks all day. 

Jim Kalbach: [00:54:24] We just did in our MURAL leadership team two weeks ago, everybody on the call had to do their favorite chair stretch and everybody else had to follow them. So they got, they got the CEO doing this and everybody was following them super simple, like five minutes, but we just went around, everybody did their favorite stretch. It's really nice. 

Hailey Temple: [00:54:42] All right, Lynda, what are some of your ideas? 

Lynda Baker: [00:54:46] Well I was much more, I was much more in this fidget or the. the, the feeling experiential place. So I really didn't get into, I didn't follow directions. I didn't get into the tactical detail and I just kept thinking of what kind of images, and what's the message that I wanted.

And so I really just captured some of those senses that the words of what, the sense of the experiences I wanted people to have. So I think they can be woven into everything that everybody just shared, which is how do we maximize connection. Particularly in this time, how do we maximize their appreciation for their engagement and participation?

How do we make it okay to be vulnerable? And I dare say, less than perfect or less than knowledgeable. I think that, having a learner's mind is really important right now, particularly because we're so on to be at our game and our game is so new. So I think that vulnerability piece is important and probably the other things are clear and my time is up and the next flip chart.

Hailey Temple: [00:56:00] Awesome. Thank you. Do we have any. And Gen, did you make one? 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:56:06] Yeah, I just, I just threw the based on all this great stuff. I just threw down one idea that was sort of connected to, some of the themes that have been brought up and it ties a little bit to kind of the idea of, you know, people are coming from around the world.

So, so whether they're sharing a recipe or something, the idea of, so there's the bus, but then maybe there's, there's the plane. Right. And the idea of, people, maybe self identified a share something about, where they are in the world, you know? So, It might be somebody who is living in a very particular part of, you know, the outdoors and they share that aspect of it, but the idea of sort of making a place based exercise that, that opens a window into all the places of the world. So yeah, that was the idea. 

Hailey Temple: [00:57:06] That's awesome. No, I love it. And I think. This is idea this virtual space and the idea you have of bringing people together from around the world, can be reflected in, in so many of these different concepts. But, I wanna, I want make sure I'm mindful of your time and our time of our group here.

So thank you. First of all, Gen and Ben for Emma for joining us for the session today. Thank you to, throwing some confetti, thank you to our panelists. Thank you so much for coming on and jumping in and bringing your experience and your expertise here for, for the AST team. And thank you for the audience to so much great engagement and some ideas from the audience as well.

But I deeply appreciate this. Thank you so much community really special. So what we'll do [00:58:00] is share this recording, share links any, to learn more about AST and their program as well. So if you want to learn more, you're welcome to do that. And. Yeah. Thank you. Have a wonderful week. We'll see you guys back here same time, same place, new topic next Friday. 


Genevieve Tremblay: [00:58:19] Thank you so much. Both Hailey and Emma for setting this up. This has been fantastic. 

Hailey Temple: [00:58:24] It's been a blast working with you guys. Really? I wish I was coming to AST and doing this session. It's really cool. 

Benjamin Lee: [00:58:30] Seriously Emma, you made and Hailey, you both have really made it feel in an hour, there's so much we can do on MURAL, just interacting over zoom, but you have this platform to really work with. So, and thanks to all the participants and attendees here, we really appreciate it. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:58:44] Yeah. And, is the, the, chat captured as well Hailey in the. 

Hailey Temple: [00:58:50] Yeah, I can capture the chat and save it. Yes.

Jim Kalbach: [00:58:55] There's a ton of good stuff in that chain. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:58:58] I just, I didn't know where to look. 

Jim Kalbach: [00:59:01] Yeah. It's really, really good stuff. Yeah. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:59:03] Yeah. Jim, thanks so much. yeah. 

Hailey Temple: [00:59:07] And I'll, I'll put the chat into the MURAL as well, so that if you want to like click and download the file right on the MURAL, you can also do that. 

Genevieve Tremblay: [00:59:17] Yeah. Okay. I'm going to grab, grab did all the other people go away or are they. 

Hailey Temple: [00:59:24] People are probably hopping off, if you have meetings or whatever. I know. We're just gonna hang out here. Thank you so much. Really appreciate you. Have a wonderful week.

About the author

About the authors

Emma Schnee

Integrated Marketing Manager
Emma is a a marketing manager at MURAL where she champions the stories of educators, students, and nonprofits to highlight the creative and impactful ways they incorporate visual collaboration into their work. She is passionate about the intersection of social impact, business, and design.