ICYMI: Why We Must All Become Collaboration Designers with Laila von Alvensleben

Meghan ✭✭✭
edited March 9 in Café

As the Interaction Week conference was recently hosted in Zurich, it was a huge honor interviewing @lailavon on her reflections from the event and as co-host for her session, "Why We Must All Become Collaboration Designers."

Below are a few reflections from Laila's presentation!

Hi Laila! Can you tell us a bit about IxDA, the conference and its audience?

Laila: Interaction 23 connected the interaction design community and its stakeholders. They expected 1,500 people to join live in Zurich. Their audience is spread across many design disciplines: interaction designers, user experience consultants, product managers, academics, but also, thought leaders on user experience and VPs of Fortune 100 companies and forward-thinking nonprofits.

Very Nice! How do you think that aligns with what is happening at Mural?

Laila: There were a few themes for me:

  • Design decision-making processes - Supporting people in deciding has never been easy. How we design interactions influences how people decide and consequently act. Many decisions humans make are based on automatic responses, or they are made collaboratively with non-human agencies, as machine learning systems increasingly become part of interactive systems. What kinds of decision-making processes can be shaped by technologies and by designers?  How do we affect decision-making processes through our designs or our design processes?
  • Create new work experiences - Covid has turned the world of work on its head with home office. However, many of the current changes are not solely due to a change in work locations, but go much deeper. It is a chance to re-define how we organize, work and collaborate within and across organizations. New employee-centered work experiences are designed that support flow, productivity, and purposeful work. Despite these well-intended changes, work-life balance seems to suffer more than ever. What is the role of design in these transformations? How will design shape the future of work?

Having recently introduced our new market category of Collaborative Intelligence, we opted to focus on the second theme “Create new work experiences” and deliver a 4-hour workshop on collaboration design. Here’s a teaser of what our workshop focused on:

Good collaboration does not come naturally. It must be taught—through workflows and guided methods developed from human-centered design, Agile and Lean. In this workshop, IxDA attendees will learn how to adopt new skills of collaborative intelligence (CI) to create engaging work experiences and connect teams for the new era of work.

That's amazing! It certainly sounds like a huge honor. One final question- what gap do you feel the presentation fills in the larger facilitation world?

Facilitation and collaboration design are not synonymous. Collaboration design differs from facilitation in two key ways:

  1. It accounts for a team's collaboration experience over time - rituals and habits, both sync and async. 
  2. Anyone can practice collaboration design, one intentional practice at a time: agendas check-ins, etc.

As a skill, collaboration design can be formal or informal and embedded in any team activity (not just a workshop or meeting). It leverages asynchronous communication and supports team development over a longer period of time. Collaboration design is really just about intentional collaboration practice: in other words, a collaboration designer will know how to develop interpersonal team dynamics and ways of working that continue beyond a team session. 

Thanks for interviewing with us, Laila! Are there any helpful links that would help those who attended/are interested in learning more?

Mural is releasing a book on Collaborative Intelligence written by Jim Kalbach on April 11th, 2023.

Conference Session Information: "Why We Must All Become Collaboration Designers"

Laila is available via LinkedIn, and Twitter.


  • lailavon
    lailavon Mural Team mod

    If anyone has any questions about the workshop or Collaboration Design in general, I'm happy to answer them. Thanks @Meghan for the interview :)