How to run an impactful team offsite — the Mural way

Written by 
Samantha Goldman
December 19, 2023
An image of the Mural marketing team during their offsite in Austin, Texas in 2023
How to run an impactful team offsite — the Mural way
Written by 
Samantha Goldman
December 19, 2023

We recently brought the marketing team together for an offsite in Austin, Texas. Amid all the fun activities and bonding, we entered ‌the offsite with some very ambitious goals of what we wanted to accomplish. On top of that, I set one rule: no laptops. This also meant no murals (not an easy task for a group of Muralistas). We’ve been building momentum as a fully remote team, but there’s simply nothing like bringing a team together ‘IRL’ — without any screens. 

That doesn’t mean we didn’t use our own products, however. For this offsite, we used the LUMA System™ to quickly move from getting to know one another to broad team alignment, in just over two days. Along the way, we captured everything in a mural to make sure we didn’t lose any information from the offsite — and would have a shared place to continue the discussion. 

Building on the progress that we made as a team in launching our AI features, we used LUMA principles to further break down barriers between individuals and teams, define roles and responsibilities, and begin to empathize more deeply with our customers. 

We’re tackling all of this work now so that we can enter the New Year with a stronger sense of team and purpose. And the way we did it — the how — is something that any team, anywhere can replicate with LUMA. 

How we did it

Approaching the offsite, we wanted to learn from previous experiences, as well as use our own medicine — effectively, treating ourselves like a customer — to get the most out of our time together.

Commit to your goals

We knew what we wanted to accomplish — we set clear goals, and we didn't change them during the planning phase. Given the limited amount of time, we then analyzed everything that could be accomplished asynchronously

In practice, that meant assigning some pre-work (and anything that could easily be presented without interaction). This was a key to making in-person discussions and debates more impactful and meaningful — we could get to what mattered faster, rather than suffering from information overload.

Specifically, what we wanted to achieve was to first foster strong bonds among team members; second, create a strong understanding of the role of each team within the department and establish cross-functional relationships; and third, build a deep empathy for our customers (and their journey) by learning from and building on our persona research. 

Keep it moving, make outcomes actionable

Once we were on site, we kept things moving. By time-boxing all our activities, and structuring them such that they had specific goals, we were able to get through multiple initiatives in just over two days, while retaining much more of the information. Also, we made sure that the outcomes of each phase of work were actionable — directly informing the next exercise or activity. 

While we were fortunate to be able to come together in person, you can easily replicate the activities using the below Mural templates, which leverage the LUMA System. By using one, or a combination of several Mural templates, you can move through each process (just as we did) and come away with actionable next steps.

Day 1 (7 hours)

  • Session 1: Team building — Checking In (this was a really impactful exercise I learned from my executive coach where we broke up into groups and shared something we’re going through personally and professionally. It really broke the ice and allowed for deeper relationship building.)
  • Session 2: Mural Strategy and Marketing Principles
  • Session 3: Marketing Department “Brand House” (Using Concept Poster & Visualize the Vote)
  • Session 4: Team roles and responsibilities (Using Walk-A-Mile Immersion)

Day 2 (5 hours)

Day 3 (2 hours)

  • Session 1: Identifying marketing themes (using Creative Matrix)
  • Session 2: Action items and next steps

Use a facilitator

And, helping to move things forward throughout was our own LUMA System expert, Jesse Smith. Jesse’s presence meant that I could spend all my energy on site focusing on the issues alongside my team, rather than building the exercises and tracking progress. This meant I could learn more from my team, participate fully in each discussion, and have the mind space to think strategically while in the room, instead of being bogged down in the details. Side note, we can help you with this too :-)

This combination of the LUMA System and a facilitator to help guide us made for one of the most impactful offsites of my career — a sentiment that's been echoed by team members across the marketing organization. We walked away having achieved every goal we set, while having a lot of fun in the process. 

Offsite meeting checklist

  1. Have a clear goal (or goals) in mind before you make any plans
  2. Once you start planning, choose both a time and a space (including details about the room you’ll be using to meet) that's going to maximize your effectiveness as a group
  3. Assign pre-work that'll provide the necessary context and background for your in-person discussions
  4. Structure your time together and use a facilitator to guide everyone through each exercise together — this is especially important for leaders who may otherwise have limited impact while trying to manage the details of making things run; on this note, Mural’s Professional Services team is an invaluable resource  
  5. Be intentional about building in downtime, so that the team has time to develop the social bonds that it takes to perform at their best

How you work matters

At Mural, we believe that the right combination of technology and process is the key to team success. As the world has learned since the onset of the pandemic, technology alone isn’t going to solve this problem. In fact, too much technology — too many notifications, emails, videos, etc. — has been an anchor on teams trying to move forward together, hindering rather than helping them get stuff done.

Work has become absurd. That’s why we’re fixing teamwork with Mural and the LUMA System. 

Identify what you want to get done, and then build a path to achieving your goals using collaboration techniques that you can mix and match according to your project’s needs. 

That’s what you can accomplish when you combine the best visual work platform with tried-and-true methods that make teamwork make sense.

About the authors

About the authors

Samantha Goldman

Samantha Goldman

Samantha Goldman is the Chief Marketing Officer at Mural. She leads a global team of marketers responsible for developing and executing Mural's brand, product marketing, and demand generation strategies, as well as driving member growth, engagement, and retention.