Meta think kit: using design thinking to make meetings work for everyone
March 30, 2021
Our mission at Meta is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. This applies to our business community as well, and that’s why we created Meta Think Kit to help teams collaborate, brainstorm, and move ideas forward together more effectively. Here is an overview of our five Think Kit murals, and exercises to use alongside them for optimal team productivity.
Working as part of a team – whether in the same room or remote – can be a minefield. We all know what an unproductive meeting feels like, and conversely when you’re lucky enough to be a part of a truly collaborative, creative and productive team session it can be almost euphoric.
In our time working at Meta we’ve experienced our own highs and lows of team collaboration, but we’ve learned along the way that our most effective meetings all have a few things in common. First of them is a positive team mindset going into the session. Secondly, each meeting, be it a brainstorm or brand workshop or retrospective, used specific principles of design thinking to keep the flow of the meeting strong, ensured all voices were heard, and the objectives of the meeting were clear and concise.
My team and I created the Meta Think Kit originally for the advertising industry, but the methods can be used for any high-level or account-based problem. It includes a variety of techniques and exercises rooted in design thinking that provide a clear roadmap for creative problem solving and identifying audience-first solutions. We teamed with MURAL to create several templates for people to use so that they could have all the tools they needed to quickly get to work. They are meant to be straightforward, customizable and applicable to a variety of team configurations and goals.
Before you get started with the Meta Think Kit, I recommend you take some time (along with your team) to review the mindset videos listed on the Think Kit website to get in the right creative mind space for creative problem solving.
🚀 Pro tip: If you’re unsure where to start, check out the Meta Think Kit’s Exercise Guide.
Below I’ve laid out the five MURAL templates created for the Think Kit, along with some suggested exercise pairings for each template to help anyone looking for ways to get more out of their team collaboration, solve big problems, and/or harness imagination better as a group. Once you’ve explored the exercises listed below, be sure to check out the Think Kit website for additional exercises that you can try out with your teams.
Project North Star by Meta Think Kit
Project North Star is a tool designed to align on a project's goals, roles, target audience, and other essential details so that teams can work effectively and efficiently. Use this as teams are forming around new projects, new business pitches, or ad-hoc client requests.
Determining a project’s North Star is an increasingly important activity that helps teams align across a quarter, a year or even the next five years, depending on the project scope. In order to do this effectively, you need to make sure everyone feels confident to contribute and voice their thoughts on what the key goals, KPIs and milestones are for that project. The Think, Pair, Share exercise is useful to rapidly move these sometimes hard conversations forward, all while encouraging and empowering everyone in the room to participate. The rules of this exercise are simple: you take your individual reflections, pair them with the thoughts of another team member, and then finally come together to share your final thoughts with the larger team.
Pre-Mortem by Meta Think Kit
Often in projects, the learning happens too late in the process and nothing can be done to impact the project outcomes. The Pre-mortem tool enables team members to harness the collective experience and wisdom of the team, at a time when it’s most useful — before the project even starts.
While the post-mortem is a popular tool for project feedback and addressing things that did and did not go well, the ability to gather before a project starts and set expectations cannot be understated. The Rapid Remote Shareouts exercise is a great way to get your team together to rally on past achievements so you can then move forward as a unified and motivated team. By each member taking some time to share something they’ve worked on recently that they were proud of, you can identify what your group’s strengths are and even determine who should take ownership of specific tasks within the project you are about to kick off.
Conducting a Brainstorm by Meta Think Kit
Holding a brainstorm isn't unique; holding a productive brainstorm is. Great brainstorms set the stage for fresh ideas and generative thinking through simple guidelines and an open, collaborative environment. Use this when you're just kicking off a new project and want to hit the ground running with big ideas that will move your team forward.
Before you dive into your brainstorming, take the time to do an icebreaker or team warmup to make sure the environment is conducive to creativity. If you have a specific customer problem to solve, this Ladder of Abstraction exercise will help you identify the exact problem you need to brainstorm around. This can save you a lot of valuable time as a group and help your brainstorming more hyper-focused and productive. The key to this exercise is crafting a clear “How might we” statement to then create a ladder diagram from.
2 x 2 Prioritization Matrix by Meta Think Kit
2x2s provide a visual way for teams to build shared understanding and make collective decisions for moving ideas forward. Use this activity to evaluate and prioritize new ideas, strategic directions, ideal target audiences, and more.
If you are still working with your group to decide what problems you need to solve (and therefore which need to be prioritized accordingly), you might want to start your meeting with the Problem Statements exercise before you get to the 2 x 2 prioritization matrix. Make sure you have each person take some time before the meeting for some basic audience research. After sharing your individual findings and the problem statements uncovered from them, you can then as a group identify (possibly through a group vote), what ideas you’d like to move forward and onto the prioritization matrix. This is especially helpful if you are working cross-functionally and there are an abundance of ideas about what projects should be prioritized.
Storyboarding by Meta Think Kit
Storyboards are a great way to visually show current vs. future experiences through the act of sketching. Use this tool when you need a quick way to convey ideas, break down team or client processes, or explore a new way of working together as a team.
Often used in design sprints for rapid prototyping, the Crazy 8’s exercise is a great way to get your team thinking visually and sharing ideas in a new way. All you need is a pen and paper (folded into 8 squares) so that you can quickly draw different solutions and then react and/or upvote them as a group. This is a great way to help you determine what drawing or drawings can then be incorporated onto your storyboard.
With the right tools team collaboration can reach new heights
Our Meta Think Kit templates have become some of the most downloaded templates in the entire MURAL template library. I believe that is because they are hitting upon pain points that teams have been experiencing for years, but for which became that much more glaring when the pandemic struck and meeting dynamics changed.
There are simple rules for improving meetings that are well known but worth repeating here: set a clear agenda, have action items to work through, and make sure you are creating a safe, inclusive and creative environment that allows your team’s imagination to flourish.