How Figma improved their planning with Coda + FigJam

Lawrence Luk, TPM at Figma, shares the story of the Coda + FigJam widget.

Bri Strauss

Technology Partner Manager at Coda

How Figma improved their planning with Coda + FigJam

By Bri Strauss

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Productivity · 6 min read
In September last year, we launched the Coda + FigJam widget to help teams seamlessly sync ideas and plans between the two platforms. The widget brings together the best of both tools, letting teams collaborate in whatever environment they prefer—whether jamming on ideas in a FigJam whiteboard or collecting next steps in a structured Coda table—while ensuring data is shared between the two. Since launch, it’s been so exciting to see how different teams are using the integration, from running more effective retros to creating visual interactive roadmaps. The widget is a collaboration between the Coda and Figma teams, but the original idea came from Figma’s first Technical Program Manager, Lawrence Luk, when tackling Figma’s planning process.
Lawrence joined Figma in 2022 and now manages the Product TPM team. Previously, he was a Product TPM for Reels at Instagram and, before that, was leading cross-company initiatives at Uber, including developing the grocery delivery vertical and working on major partner integrations. “I’ve always been passionate about the ‘work behind the work’ and pushing people to reach their full potential. Figma helps teams work more effectively, so helping the Figma team work effectively feels like the highest leverage, coolest problem to work on!” Here, we talk to Lawrence about how the idea for the Coda + FigJam widget was born and how the Figma team is using it for more organized and effective planning.

The quest for more collaborative planning.

When Lawrence first joined Figma, he was tasked with improving a somewhat messy process for making and sharing plans. The leadership team was keen for final plans to be documented in Coda, due to the simplicity and efficiency of having everything in one place. However, when it came to the first step of ideating, teams wanted a more visual and unstructured space to collaborate in. FigJam—Figma’s collaborative whiteboard product—became their go-to place, with teams using stickies and shapes to brainstorm ideas and visualize how plans would come together.
But this presented a challenge when it came to translating those ideations into a more structured plan. Teams were copy-pasting ideas from FigJam into multiple spreadsheets and docs, so it was difficult to track various ideas and iterations. “It was becoming too disorganized,” says Lawrence. “The challenge was ‘where can we document these plans so we can look at them together?’” Lawrence spotted an opportunity to give everyone what they needed. “I wanted to find a compromise that let teams work freely and collaborate in a visual space, but still let leadership have a high-level view of everything,” Lawrence explains. “That meant finding a way for teams to begin planning in FigJam, then be able to translate those plans into a more structured and filterable format.” It made perfect sense for that data to live in Coda—it provides the structure they were looking for, and the company had already been using it for various workstreams. “Coda offers a lot of powerful features for organizing our data and integrations,” says Lawrence. “The tools complement each other well. Coda is where data and insights live, and FigJam is where we jam together, represent mind maps—anything that suits a more visual space.”

Seamless planning with the Coda + FigJam widget.

The solution lay in connecting Coda and FigJam so the teams could get the benefits of using both tools together. Lawrence and the Figma design team worked closely with the Coda engineering team to build a widget to seamlessly share data between the two environments. The Figma team knew teams would need more than just a snapshot in time, so they made sure changes are reflected in both tools through two-way sync. The widget enables the team to use Coda as the official place to document plans, while giving them the freedom to work however they work best—whether that’s generating ideas on stickies in FigJam and converting them into Coda tables, or gathering ideas in Coda and porting them into FigJam for discussion and voting.
“Not many people enjoy the process of turning unstructured thoughts into organized datasets,” Lawrence muses. “FigJam and Coda together makes that a seamless workflow. It allows people to play to their strengths versus having to think about the whole system.” By enabling ideas and plans to move seamlessly between Coda and FigJam, the widget unlocked new ways for the Figma team to plan together:

Making brainstorms more actionable.

The team generated ideas with stickies in FigJam, then converted them into a Coda table to organize, prioritize, and assign next steps. They also brought task lists, goals, and feedback tables from Coda into FigJam to display relevant context.

Keeping plans in sync across visual and structured environments.

Teams ideated and created their plans in FigJam, then sent action items directly to their centralized planning doc in Coda to document and track them all in one place. They also created visual, interactive roadmaps by turning their OKR (Objectives and Key Results) tracker in Coda into a FigJam board. Plus, updates synced between FigJam and Coda, which allowed everyone to easily discuss and iterate on plans from either tool.

Running effective retros that lead to change.

When reflecting on the quarter, the Figma team turned sentiments into visual stickies in FigJam for discussion. (You can see the team’s template here.) They then ensured insights were actioned by porting stickies back into Coda to assign drivers and next steps, and track progress.

Planning that works for everyone.

For Figma, the widget made planning much easier and much more efficient: “Teams can do their planning in FigJam, use the widget to send it over to Coda, and they don’t have to worry about copy-pasting things over or losing track of ideas,” Lawrence tells us. “They get the benefits of working in a collaborative space, but leadership still gets a high-level view of final plans in Coda.” Figma has now gone even deeper, syncing goals and project lists between FigJam and Coda too—for example, displaying goals from Coda while working on the roadmap in FigJam. The ability to copy the widget and drop it into other files has also ensured goals stay consistent, rather than risking them being changed as they get copied between different docs. “It’s created a lot more clarity in how we want our goals to be structured,” shares Lawrence. At the heart of the widget’s impact is a simple truth, believes Lawrence: “By synchronizing tooling geared toward visual versus systems thinkers, the widget lets us have the best of both worlds.” If you’re looking for a seamless way to collaborate, capture, and share plans across teams, the Coda + FigJam widget is the solution. It’s available and free for all Coda and Figma users. Experience the benefits for yourself—get started with the widget here.

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