Lightning Decision Jam

2-10 people

When it comes to tasks that involve creative thinking, it's all too easy to become sidetracked, lose concentration, and engage in aimless, unstructured conversations. The solution? Implement a well-defined process in place of any open-ended discussions. This approach is ideal for situations where a team needs to collaborate on decision-making, problem-solving, or addressing challenges.

Workshop steps


Before starting: Appoint a Facilitator Choose a team member to act as the facilitator. They can participate in the process, but their main responsibility is to manage the group dynamics and monitor the time. Begin with Identifying Issues - 7 minutes Allocate 7 minutes for the team to list down all the difficulties, frustrations, errors, or worries encountered during the week. These can range from "I don't think we're making progress" to "I feel like project X is overshadowing my project." Include anything that seems like an obstacle.


Current Issues - 4 minutes per individual The leader requests each participant to take turns standing near a wall or whiteboard. They should briefly describe their specific challenge while attaching it to the surface. During this time, other team members must remain silent. The leader will allocate 4 minutes for each person.


Choose Challenges to Tackle - 6 mins The facilitator provides each participant with 2 voting dots (dotmocracy). Everyone votes on the challenges they believe are most important to address, without discussing their choices. Feel free to vote for your own sticky notes and even place both votes on a single challenge if you're passionate about it. After the 6 minutes, the facilitator swiftly collects the voted issues and asks the group to prioritize them. As for the remaining unvoted challenges, stay tuned for more information later.


Transform Challenges into Simple HMW Questions - 6 mins Convert challenges into actionable How Might We Questions At this point, concentrate only on the voted and prioritized challenges. The facilitator will guide the group in rephrasing each challenge as a HMW question, which will aid in generating solutions. Example: The most voted post-it: "I have no idea what's happening on 'project x'." Since many people voted for it, it's evident that it's a common issue. By rewording the post-it into a "How Might We" format, we can make it solvable and standardize the way challenges are presented. "How Might We understand our progress in project 'X'?" The facilitator assists the group in swiftly rephrasing all the challenges, ensuring they remain prioritized before proceeding.


Create Solutions - 7 mins Now, use the top-voted HMW question to generate solutions. Each team member has 7 minutes to come up with as many potential solutions to the How Might We challenge without discussing - focus on quantity, not quality. We'll refine the ideas later. Write a solution, say it out loud to the group, and quickly place it on "the surface" (whiteboard, flipchart, cardboard). Sharing your idea aloud encourages collective intelligence, as it allows the group to build on each other's thoughts. Remember, no discussions - just speak the idea, keep listening, and continue writing.


Cast Your Votes - 5 mins Every team member receives three dots to vote for the solutions they believe will effectively address the HMW.


Determine Priorities - 30 Seconds In just 30 seconds, the group needs to create a simple, prioritized list of solutions.


Determine which solutions to implement - 5 mins Some solutions may be more popular than others, but it's crucial to understand the effort needed to execute them. Use a simple effort/impact scale to identify which solutions to try immediately and which to add to your backlog (To-Do). The facilitator must be proactive during this step, as it can lead to discussions. They should evaluate each solution using the effort/impact scale. Effort refers to the team's perceived implementation difficulty, while impact measures how well it addresses the problem. Facilitator Instruction: Present the top-voted solution at the center of the E/I scale and ask, "higher or lower?" Keep discussions brief (under 20 seconds) and find a consensus. Repeat the process for impact, asking, "Higher or Lower?" You'll now have a clear overview of high-impact solutions that can be quickly executed (top left) and those requiring more effort (top right). The facilitator should mark all solutions in the sweet spot with a contrasting dot for easy identification later.


Transform Solutions into Manageable Tasks in 5 Minutes The facilitator removes the "Sweet Spot" solutions from the E/I scale and requests the author of each solution to provide actionable steps for testing it. They should suggest steps that can be executed within 1-2 weeks. Once all solutions have been converted into tasks, your team now possesses manageable tasks to commit to (task management methods may vary). As for the solutions that didn't make it to the "Sweet Spot"? Convert all high-impact solutions into actionable post-its and add them to your backlog to avoid forgetting them. You might notice that the sweet spot actions eventually solve problems in such a way that the higher effort solutions become unnecessary.


Embrace Structure and Discipline for Greater Freedom That's the key! In no time, your team can identify crucial challenges, develop solutions, and decide on priorities with minimal discussion. This principle is effective in various tasks, from designing new product features to organizing events or enhancing our workspace. Remember, creative problem-solving lies at the heart of design. So, treat it with the importance it deserves and eliminate time-consuming, demotivating, and exhausting discussions. Commonly Asked Questions What if we lose great ideas that didn't receive votes during the process? Execution and testing are what truly matter, not just good ideas. Even if a less-than-ideal idea gets voted to the top and tested, you'll learn from it and progress. Some clients prefer to document all ideas generated during such exercises, but we encourage focusing on the problem-solving system instead of clinging to "good" solutions. In short: let them go! Isn't voting an imperfect way to decide on priorities? Does this lead to design by committee? While not flawless, this system is more effective than unproductive open conversations where the loudest or most persistent person wins, or nothing gets accomplished. Give it a try before judging it; searching for flaws is just procrastination until you've experienced it. Can this exercise be applied beyond design scenarios? Absolutely! This exercise can be utilized in various situations, such as: - Planning a team retreat - Enhancing the office environment - Tackling marketing/awareness challenges (e.g., How can we connect with "INFLUENCER"?) - Boosting sales (e.g., How can we increase client acquisition?)

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Anna Lundqvist portrait
Anna Lundqvist
UX Designer and AI Ethics Strategist guiding innovative product development and educational workshops
Eddy Salzmann portrait
Eddy Salzmann
Design lead and team culture enthusiast driving products and design processes
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Ola Möller
Founder of MethodKit who has a passion for organisations and seeing the big picture
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