My Secret Super Power: Lightning (Decision Jams)

I worked in a corporation. Every time I got invited to a kick-off or a workshop, I was anxious to see what was gonna happen. Usually, this type of meeting (even more than the other ones) meant that everyone would talk at the same time. We would need a follow-up session because there was no result and/or the HiPPO would win. <s>What an amazing outcome, yay 🙌 </s> (That’s a sarcasm tag…)

Luckily, there’s a super power to help with that and you don’t need a hero to pull it off!

Lightning ⚡️

… Decision Jam

Let me quickly explain what it is and then we’re gonna get into all it’s amazingness!

The Lightning Decision Jam

It’s a fairly simple workshop. A guided process from problem to solution in a very short span of time. It takes 60–120 mins depending on the number of participants and if they know the process already.

“Replace all open, unstructured discussion with clear process. […] Structure and discipline create the freedom needed to be creative.”

Read more in the original article: Solve Problems Without Discussion

The LDJ follows the same steps every time. It might seem counterintuitive to unlock creativity with process, but it works incredibly well.

You need a bunch of sticky notes, sharpies and sticky dots for voting. The steps are easy:

  1. Optional: Write down all positives | 7 mins
  2. Optional: Present them | 4 mins per person
  3. Write down the problems | 7 mins
  4. Present them | 4 mins per person
  5. Vote on them | 6 mins, 2 votes
  6. Order by number of votes | 30 secs
  7. Rephrase them to standardize (HMW)| 10mins
  8. Write down solutions, quantity > quality | 7 mins
  9. Vote on them | 10 mins, 6 votes
  10. Optional: Effort-Impact-Matrix | 10 mins
  11. Optional: Further details from idea giver(s)
  12. Action items | 5 mins

Here’s a detailed video on how to run an LDJ by the inventors AJ&Smart:

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

It’s a workshop technique, how is it a super power you may ask. Even if you didn’t, I’ll tell you!

  1. It’s the “little design sprint”.
  2. It’s fast.
  3. It removes bias.
  4. It creates focus.
  5. It’s collaborative.
  6. It fosters inclusion.
  7. It is easy.

The LDJ has all the benefits a Design Sprint has, but it won’t take 5 days, or 3 depending which DS style you prefer. It is near impossible to convince people in corporations to give you 5 days to solve a problem together. Let’s be honest, we all know that they consequentially take months and waste a ton of time in those aforementioned “workshops”.

Running an LDJ on a smaller problem demonstrates the potential and power of a Design Sprint and can help you sell it for a bigger challenge you are facing.

The Lightning Decision Jam is a faster version to go from problem to solution while factoring in human nature.

We fall victim to ~180 different biases regularly. Let’s remove some. Because discussions are removed, everyone’s ideas get heard or rather read. A more introverted person gets to share their views. There cannot be a HiPPO. The most charismatic person does not always have the best idea, but likely the best pitch. Don’t even get me started on gender bias — Did you know, women are twice as likely to be interrupted, WoC even more often?

How often do you sit in a meeting and the conversation gets side tracked? Staying focused really helps to get to a solution faster. Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Make it part of your meetings then!

If you’re focused and fast, you will have a much easier time adding all the people to the meeting. Designers, developers, QA, stakeholders — Boom! Collaboration!

Being collaborative from the beginning will save you more than one headache later on. Everyone will be on the same page about business value and requirements, user experience and interactions as well as technical feasibility. Sounds pretty great to me.

As I have mentioned before, I have worked in a corporate job with stakeholders that are a little more on the classic side when it comes to methods and approaches. You know, being weirded out by the notion that wearing shorts to work in the summer time will not change your ability to do great things. At the same time, they secretly wanna be as cool as the <insert snazzy name like digital lab/incubator/start-up within/…>.

The LDJ is perfect to give everyone a “sticky note and sharpie” moment of coolness while actually getting sh*t done!

It really is perfect in that way. Everyone gets included and taken seriously. What we do is suddenly not a black box of design and development anymore. This makes your stakeholders feel responsible and invested in the upcoming steps, they were there from the beginning. And, if you’re lucky, they will even get that you cannot give them a deadline just yet.

Can I Use It For Everything All The Time?

Oh darling, you 100% can! Well, maybe you wanna do a full on Design Sprint for bigger problems. But the LDJ is great for a variety of meetings, I have personally used it for the following:

  • Team Building/Team Norms
  • Retrospectives
  • Feedback after a Design Sprint
  • New initiatives, if they’re small enough
  • To sell Design Sprints within the company

Basically, if you have a problem, you can use your new super power. You’re welcome!

I am curious to hear about your experiences with Lightning Decision Jams, leave me a comment.

I am Lisa, a product strategist, team enabler, decision facilitator and learning enthusiast, dabbling my feet into design and web development for funsies and an overall product nerd. Clap and share if you liked this. Thank you!

Product strategist, decision facilitator, team enabler, problem solver, design sprinter, agile enthusiast, intersectional feminist.