Success story: IBM's best practices for remote facilitation

Written by 
Eric Morrow
February 2, 2020

Their Story

With nearly 400,000 employees, IBM is big. Really big. And they are dispersed around the world. Staying productive is a challenge. Running design thinking sessions with remote teams isn't easy.

MURAL enables IBM to stay on the same page and keep their creative juices flowing, no matter where they are. Eric uses MURAL to run in-person and remote workshops with internal stakeholders to work through the design thinking process.

"For a 30 or 60 minute session, where we want to share ideas or have a voting session and have a record of it for people who aren't present, doing it in MURAL is actually preferred even if we have everyone colocated."
Design Facilitator, IBM

How they do it

  1. PREPARATION: Structure your exercises in advance in MURAL. Create a template that maps out each step the group should take. This will give overall transparency to the activity, as participants can see where they are headed and how to get there.
  2. ENGAGEMENT: Engage all participants. Give a lot of heads-down exercises for people to do individually. Then, have them read out their thoughts so everyone gets a chance to contribute.
  3. DIGITAL TRANSITION: When working in person, do the last exercise of the session digitally in MURAL. This will allow you to have continuity and momentum after the session.
  4. INTENTIONAL CONSTRAINTS: Time box exercises. Set a time limit for each exercise. You can always add more time if needed. Also put in timed breaks — about one per hour.
  5. OPTIMIZE DURATION: Plan shorter sessions. Participants’ ability to join remotely for long periods of time decreases with remote teams.

Take action


This template, designed by and used within IBM, is ready to be duplicated and used in your own projects so you can start taking action right away.

Create a mural in your workspace from the template below:

About the authors

About the authors

Eric Morrow

Eric Morrow

Design Facilitator
Eric is a Design Facilitator with IBM Design and brings design thinking into the broader IBM organization through in-person and remote education-focused workshops.

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