The Lightning Decision Jam

Lightning Decision Jam For Fast Decision-Making

The Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ) is a means of making fast decisions that provide quick direction. The Lightning Decision Jam was developed by design agency AJ&Smart in response to the inefficiency of business meetings. Borrowing ideas from the core principles of design sprints, AJ&Smart created the Lightning Decision Jam.

Understanding the Lightning Decision Jam

Indeed, many meetings consist of unstructured conversation that does not further company goals. Many other meetings are probably better discussed in a group chat or through a series of emails. In either case, attendees are often left feeling confused and generally unmotivated. 

Borrowing ideas from the core principles of design sprints, AJ&Smart created the Lightning Decision Jam. These principles include:

  • Working together, alone.
  • Tangible items being better than discussion.
  • A belief that being right is not as important as getting started.
  • Less reliance on creativity.

Indeed, the LDJ method is suited to any situation where an organization is having difficulty in defining or addressing problems. The method is also versatile. It can be used in large multinational corporations or small start-ups containing just a few people.

How to run a Lightning Decision Jam

Before beginning, an ideal team size of 4-6 people must select a moderator. A good moderator is essential in ensuring that discussions do not become unstructured or run over time.

After personnel has been decided, the LDJ can be performed by following these steps:

Start with the problems (7 minutes)

Each team member should spend 7 minutes detailing the problems or challenges encountered during the week on blue post-it notes. There must be no discussion during this process.

Present problems (4 minutes per person)

One at a time, each person should then stand up and stick the blue post-it notes to a wall or whiteboard while they give a brief description for each. To avoid running over 4 minutes, it is helpful to dedicate no more than 30 seconds to each problem.

Select problems to solve (6 minutes)

Each team member is then assigned two dots which they must then use to vote on the problems they deem the most important to solve. Again, there must be no discussion between the group.

Reframe problems (6 minutes)

Here, the moderator rewriters the top-voted problem in the form of a standardized challenge. The challenge is reframed in the “How Might We” (HMW) format to make it solvable and ensure consistency across all problems. 

Consider the example of a post-it note reading “I am having difficulty keeping up with this new marketing campaign”. Rewritten in HMW format, the challenge then reads “Ensure that everyone is supported and well-informed during marketing campaigns”.

Produce solutions (7 minutes)

Without any discussion, each team member has 7 minutes to write potential solutions on green post-it notes. At this point, the focus is on quantity over quality. After the allotted time has elapsed, each member sticks their solutions on the wall.

Vote on solutions (10 minutes)

To cast votes on the most viable solutions, each team member is given six dots.

Prioritize solutions (30 seconds)

Solutions with more than two votes should be prioritized, with post-it notes containing the most dots placed near the top of the wall or whiteboard.

Decide what to execute on (10 minutes)

How much effort is required to enact each solution? A simple effort/impact matrix can be used to determine which solutions have the highest potential to be a quick fix. 

To achieve this, the moderator should hold each post-it note over the matrix and ask team members to decide a final position based on its perceived effort and impact.

Turn solutions into actionable tasks (5 minutes)

Problems occupying favorable positions on the matrix are then taken off the wall or whiteboard. Then, the individual who came up with the original problem is tasked with creating an actionable plan that can be completed in 1-2 weeks. 

Key takeaways

  • The Lightning Decision Jam allows businesses to make fast, effective decisions on high-impact problems.
  • The Lightning Decision Jam was created in response to traditional business meetings that often result in an unstructured conversation that does not further company goals.
  • Running a Lightning Decision Jam means following a structured, time-limited process. With an emphasis on no discussion and group consensus through voting, the LDJ team can create a clear and actionable solution quickly.

Connected Decision Making Frameworks

The Lightning Decision Jam
The Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ) is a means of making fast decisions that provide quick direction. The Lightning Decision Jam was developed by design agency AJ&Smart in response to the inefficiency of business meetings. Borrowing ideas from the core principles of design sprints, AJ&Smart created the Lightning Decision Jam.
The less-is-better effect was first proposed by behavioral scientist Christopher Hsee in a 1998 study. He noted in the experiment that a person giving a $45 scarf as a gift was perceived to be more generous than someone giving a $55 coat. The less-is-better effect describes the consumer tendency to choose the worse of two options – provided that each option is presented separately.
The Kelly criterion is a formula-based approach to investing and gambling. For each investment or bet, the individual allocates funds as a percentage of the entire portfolio. The Kelly criterion was created by researcher John Kelly in 1956 as a means of analyzing long-distance telephone signal noise. In more recent times, the formula has been adopted by the gambling and investment industries as means of wise resource allocation to a bet or investment.
The ladder of inference is a conscious or subconscious thinking process where an individual moves from a fact to a decision or action. The ladder of inference was created by academic Chris Argyris to illustrate how people form and then use mental models to make decisions.
The Pareto Analysis is a statistical analysis used in business decision making that identifies a certain number of input factors that have the greatest impact on income. It is based on the similarly named Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of the effect of something can be attributed to just 20% of the drivers.
Social psychologist Kurt Lewin developed the force-field analysis in the 1940s. The force-field analysis is a decision-making tool used to quantify factors that support or oppose a change initiative. Lewin argued that businesses contain dynamic and interactive forces that work together in opposite directions. To institute successful change, the forces driving the change must be stronger than the forces hindering the change.
Bounded rationality is a concept attributed to Herbert Simon, an economist and political scientist interested in decision-making and how we make decisions in the real world. In fact, he believed that rather than optimizing (which was the mainstream view in the past decades) humans follow what he called satisficing.
A cost-benefit analysis is a process a business can use to analyze decisions according to the costs associated with making that decision. For a cost analysis to be effective it’s important to articulate the project in the simplest terms possible, identify the costs, determine the benefits of project implementation, assess the alternatives.
In general, terms, go/no-go decision making is a process of passing or failing a proposition. Each proposition is assessed according to criteria that determine whether a project advances to the next stage. The outcome of the go/no-go decision making is to assess whether to go or not to go with a project, or perhaps proceed with caveats.
Businesses use scenario planning to make assumptions on future events and how their respective business environments may change in response to those future events. Therefore, scenario planning identifies specific uncertainties – or different realities and how they might affect future business operations. Scenario planning attempts at better strategic decision making by avoiding two pitfalls: underprediction, and overprediction.
The Cynefin Framework gives context to decision making and problem-solving by providing context and guiding an appropriate response. The five domains of the Cynefin Framework comprise obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic domains and disorder if a domain has not been determined at all.
A decision matrix is a decision-making tool that evaluates and prioritizes a list of options. Decision matrices are useful when: A list of options must be trimmed to a single choice. A decision must be made based on several criteria. A list of criteria has been made manageable through the process of elimination.

Read Next: Mental ModelsBiasesBounded RationalityMandela EffectDunning-Kruger EffectLindy EffectCrowding Out EffectBandwagon Effect, Decision-Making Matrix.

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