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Remote Design Research at O'Reilly Media: Interview with Stefanie Owens

Stefanie Owens leads the user research practice at O'Reilly Media. Her team of talented designers manage to stay connected and creative despite being distributed across the U.S.

We interviewed Stefanie to find out how her O'Reilly team designs remotely together and what advice she has for others.

Jim Kalbach

in remote teams, user research

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MURAL @ IDEO: Graduation Day

Mariano Suarez-Battan

in ceo updates, events.

IDEO has been one of our greatest partners. They saw the value in our initial product and helped us grow through their Startup-In-Residence program. We saw firsthand the importance of design as a business fundamental and built MURAL around the practical needs of remote design teams.

Room full of designers at IDEO talking about design thinking, remote collaboration, etc.

Today, we announced our success as a result of IDEO’s program.

MURAL has become an indispensable tool in the remote design collaboration space. Thousands of teams collaborate, use design thinking, stay agile, and think visually with our digital whiteboard. We empower and enable teams in Fortune 500 companies to be better creative problem solvers, no matter where in the world they might be.

A picture of Argentinean tapas on a table.

To celebrate, we invited design and business leaders from companies like IBM, Intuit, SAP, Pearson and more to come together at IDEO’s San Francisco offices and share ideas through talks and plenty of mingling over Argentinean tapas.

 

 

We kicked off the talks for the evening with an introduction from Diego Rodriguez, Global Managing Director of Ventures at IDEO. Diego explained how the Startup-in-Residence program benefitted both MURAL and IDEO. “A startup by definition is working on something on the edge” Diego explained, “and so we get to live on that edge”, even as a globally established design firm.

A room full of designers at IDEO waiting for a series of talks about design thinking and remote collaboration at scale to begin. There is a picture of an Eames chair projected on the screen, and the space is modern, clean, and creative.

Before we began, we opened up a Q&A to the audience. People shared their challenges in scaling and building a design culture in their companies. Working with multinational teams, balancing different cultures, and adopting digital tools are some of the concerns expressed that guided the talks and conversations for the evening.

Adam Cutler, one of the three Distinguished Designers at IBM, shared the process of scaling design thinking at scale at IBM.  At the center of IBM’s design culture are “people, places, and practices”. These are the core elements that IBM hammer on everyday without fail. As they scale design through a 400,000-person company, they use MURAL to facilitate “extensive sticky note work across boundaries”.

Adam Cutler, distinguished designer at IBM, talking about how they scale design thinking to a team of 400,000 and foster remote collaboration with the help of MURAL

Leslie Witt and Gerald Carvalho shared their experiences with scaling design at Intuit. “Our opportunity is global”, Leslie noted, “and we’re aggressively building up teams in Paris, London, and Sydney, and Bangalore, and Toronto, Sao Paulo, and beyond”. Design has always been a key focus at Intuit, but as they expand beyond Mountain View, they’re figuring out how to sustain design excellence with global teams. “It’s not a once-and-done, it’s kind of like working out”, she explained.

A Microsoft Surface Hub, a Microsoft Surface Pro, and an iPad are all running MURAL and gathering sketchnotes as designers collaborate together.

Sketching is a key element in human centered design. Through our talks, Mark Tippin, design facilitator, took sketch-notes on an 84” Microsoft Surface Hub as Megan Landes and David Chin, from our design team, worked on MURAL for the Surface Pro and iPad. We wrapped up the night after going over the highlighted recurring themes and patterns.

A Microsoft Surface Hub serves as a great space to gather ideas about remote collaboration and design thinking.

You can watch the full talks here:

 

 

As we celebrate our clients’ successes, we look forward to the future – to more features, more teams collaborating remotely, and more design-centered cultures.  

 


   

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Mariano Suarez-Battan

Mariano Suarez-Battan

I run MURAL, where we are making creative teams become better design thinkers through our collaboration software.We started MURAL because of a game we were designing. Ask me about that.

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