So what is a Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ) and why should you do one? We covered the benefits of running an LDJ in our previous article ‘How A Lightning Decision Jam Can Help Hotels Solve Big Problems During Lockdown’. In a nutshell, it is an 8-step workshop that helps teams solve any problem. The way the workshop is structured allows your team to work together on a single problem to generate a solution that you can test to see if it works.
In a regular LDJ workshop you needed:
- A room with
- A whiteboard (or just a plain wall)
- A selection of different coloured sticky notes for capturing problems and solutions
- A selection of sticky dots for voting
- Some marker pens and a timer
For a Remote LDJ you will need to replace those items with the following:
- A virtual room either Zoom or Google Hangouts
- A virtual whiteboard or shared presentation (we use Google Slides as you can see your team interacting on the live document)
- The sticky notes and dots are just made from shapes in Google Slides
You can download our LDJ template for Google Slides here
Before you start, as with a regular LDJ, you will need to nominate a facilitator. Their job is to keep the workshop on track and to stop unfocussed conversations breaking out.
The person who has organised the LDJ will briefly outline the topic related to the problem that needs solving. For example, this might be ‘The loss of revenue due to Lockdown’.
1. Start with things that are working
- An illustration of a sailboat with sail, anchor & waterline
- A digital sticky note. A square shape with a yellow background and text in the centre
The sailboat is a metaphor. Above the waterline represents what is moving you forward (the sail). Below the waterline represents things that are holding you back (the anchor). Each participant spends 6 minutes listing positives about the chosen subject. One positive per digital ‘sticky note’. Do this without discussion, place them above the water line. Just write 1 point per sticky note so that each participant has a pile of sticky notes when they are finished.
Once the timer has finished, each participant then very quickly explains each of their sticky notes.
The moderator should be careful to allow only 1 or 2 minutes per person. They should also make
sure that no other participants are talking or offering opinions, unless it’s to clarify something they don’t understand.
It is really important that the workshop starts in a positive atmosphere rather than a negative one. If everyone is feeling more positive, they will be more open-minded when trying to find solutions later on.
Remote Tip: If there are more than 4 of you on the call, then space will start to run out, so bear in mind that you may need to zoom out a little and place notes to the side of the board.
2. Highlight all the problems
- Use the same slide as Step 1
This is where you collect the challenges you are facing. The participants will spend another 6 minutes writing down any problems on the digital sticky notes. One per digital sticky note. These problems can be anything which the participants feel is impacting negatively on the topic of the LDJ.
Each participant places their digital sticky note on the sailboat picture, below the waterline.
The moderator reads each digital sticky note aloud back to the group, removing any duplicates.
Remote Tip: It is important that you delete duplicate problems, rather than simply grouping them together. When it comes to placing votes on
3. Prioritise problems
- Use the same slide as Steps 1 & 2.
- 3x blue circles. These are the digital sticky dots.
Each participant is given 3 digital sticky dots. This is so that everyone can vote on the problems they believe are most important. They have 3 mins to vote. Participants may vote on their own problems and can vote on one problem multiple times if they believe it is particularly important.
Only use dots on the problems, not on the positives. After 3 minutes, the moderator takes all the voted problems and arranges them into order of priority.
Remote Tip: It helps if you group the digital sticky notes and its dots, as it makes it easier when you are transferring the problems to the next slide. Also, it is best to let the facilitator do all the grouping and moving. Although people are only trying to be helpful, it can end up wasting more time when multiple people are trying to move an item at once.
4. Reframe the problems as challenges or tasks
- Use a fresh slide.
- A rectangle digital sticky note.
- A rectangle shape with an orange background and the text ‘HMW’ in the centre.
The moderator takes the top-voted problem across to the new slide. They then rewrite it in the form of a ‘How Might We’ statement. Phrasing it this way forces you to reframe the problem as a challenge rather than a problem. This helps people feel positive about finding solutions.
Here is an example of how one might be written: How might we – Make better use of the function rooms in the hotel? The moderator can ask the group for opinions when coming up with the HMW statement.
5. Ideate individually, without discussion
- A digital sticky note in alternative colour.
- A square shape with a blue background and text in the centre
Each participant makes a copy of the digital sticky note. Each member then writes multiple solutions to the HMW (‘how might we’) statement on separate digital sticky notes. Do not discuss with each other, this allows for a wider range of solutions. Try to get a high number of ‘big picture’ solutions as they can be narrowed down later.
6. Prioritise solutions
- Digital sticky dots
As with the problems in Step 3, the moderator reads aloud to the group all the solutions, removing any duplicates. The participants then make a copy of the 6 digital voting dots. The participants then have 5 mins to use their dots to vote on the solutions they think would best solve the problem.
After the timer ends, the moderator arranges the solutions into the priority pyramid.
7. Decide what actions to take
- A fresh slide
- An image of the Impact/Effort scale in the centre of the slide
Now that you have a prioritised list of solutions, it is important to try and understand how much effort each solution would require to implement and how much impact it would have on the problem.
The way we do this is with an Impact/Effort scale. This helps us easily see which solutions can be tried right away, which may take a bit more time and which may not be worth doing at all.
Follow these steps for the Impact/Effort scale:
- The moderator takes each solution and places it over the centre of the scale.
- The moderator asks “Is the impact higher or lower?”
- They then move the digital sticky note up or down until the participants are agreed.
- Don’t let any long discussions open up.
- The moderator then uses the same method for effort, moving the sticky note left or right depending on what the participants say.
- Repeat this process for the other top voted solutions.
- You’re scale should look something like this, once the top voted sticky notes have been added:
- This gives us a great overview of what solutions will have a high-impact and can be tested quickly. These solutions will be in the sweet-spot on the top left quadrant of the scale.
- The moderator should now mark these solutions with a different coloured sticky dot.
You can then group your remaining action points according to their position:
- The top right quadrant contains solutions that could make a big impact, but will take longer to implement so should probably be saved for a later date.
- The bottom half of the scale contains the solutions which will not have as big an impact.
- The ones that will take much time (in the bottom left quadrant) may want to be considered for actioning in the future, whereas the bottom right solutions should probably not be actioned at all.
8. Make solutions actionable
For each of the sweet-spot solutions, the moderator will ask the team to come up with 3 actionable steps in order to test the solution. This should include what the test is and how long it will take. As a guide, these actions should take 1-2 weeks to test. Try not to overthink it and keep it simple and easy to action. This motivates people to get started. Before you finish, make sure you have allocated roles to the people who will carry out the action steps. Setup a calendar invite for the participants to review the results of the test. Hopefully, your solution solved the problem. However, if it didn’t take the next solution and repeat the action steps creation in this step and start another test.
There are some great tools on the market that are designed to make facilitating digital workshops easy, such as Miro & Mural. However, they do come at a cost. The tools we have recommended for the LDJ are free, as we don’t want the cost of expensive tools getting in the way of you using this great problem solving workshop. Whilst these free tools are not ideal compared to the paid options, with a little preparation, we have found that they do a great job.
Please download our LDJ template and guide and let us know how you get on with running your own remote LDJ workshops.