How “Lightning Demos” works in a Sprint?

After you and your team defined the challenge and choose a target. Next day, you’ll come up with the solutions.

The day starts with inspiration: a review of existing ideas to remix and improve. Then, in the afternoon, each person will sketch, following a four-step process that emphasizes critical thinking over artistry. Later in the week, the best of these sketches will form the plan for your prototype and test.

You’ll begin your morning by searching for existing ideas you can use in
the afternoon to inform your solution. It’s like playing with Lego bricks: first
gather useful components, then convert them into something original and new.

A method for collecting and synthesizing these existing ideas is an exercise called Lightning Demos.

  • Your team will take turns giving three-minute tours of their favorite solutions: from other products, from different domains, and from within your own company.
  • This exercise is about finding raw materials, not about copying your competitors. We’ve found limited benefit in looking at products from the same industry. Time and time again, the ideas that spark the best solutions come from similar problems in different environments.
  • Sometimes, the best way to broaden your search is to look inside your own
    organization. Great solutions often come along at the wrong time, and the sprint can be a perfect opportunity to rejuvenate them. Also look for ideas that are in progress but unfinished — and even old ideas that have been abandoned.

You and your team should look far afield and close to home in your search for existing solutions. If you do, you’re sure to uncover surprising and useful ideas.

Lightning Demos (How it works)

Make a list

  • Ask everyone on your team to come up with a list of products or services to
    review for inspiring solutions. Remind people to think outside of your industry or field, and to consider inspiration from within the company.
  • Everything you review should contain something good you can learn from.
    It’s not helpful to review crummy products. After a few minutes of thinking, everyone should narrow down to his or her top one or two products. Write the collected list on the whiteboard. It’s time to begin the demos.

Give three-minute demos

  • One at a time, the person who suggested each product gives a tour — showing the whole team what’s so cool about it. It’s a good idea to keep a timer going: Each tour should be around three minutes long.

Capture big ideas as you go

  • Your three-minute Lightning Demos will go by quickly, and you don’t want to rely on short-term memory to keep track of all the good ideas. Remember the “Always be capturing” mantra and take notes on the whiteboard as you go.
  • Start by asking the person who’s giving the tour, “What’s the big idea here that might be useful?” Then make a quick drawing of that inspiring component, write a simple headline above it, and note the source underneath.
  • These notes are just to jog your memory later in the day, so they don’t have to be fancy or detailed. We usually end up with a whiteboard full of ideas.
  • If you record on the whiteboard as you go, you don’t have to decide which ideas should be discarded and which are worth remixing and improving.
  • You can figure that out later, when you sketch — a much more efficient use of your energy. For now, don’t make decisions and don’t debate. Just capture anything that might be useful.

By the end of your Lightning Demos, you should have a whiteboard full of ten to twenty ideas. That’s enough to make sure you’ve captured each person’s best inspiration — but it’s a small enough set that you won’t be overwhelmed when you start to sketch.

If you look hard enough, you can usually find your blotting paper.

When you combine the ideas you just captured with MAP, your sprint questions, and your How Might We notes, you’ve got a wealth of raw material.
In the afternoon, you’ll turn that raw material into solutions. But before you do, you need to form a quick strategy.

Should your team split up to tackle different parts of the problem, or should you all focus on the same spot?

  • Should you divide the problem? Take a good look at your map and have a quick team discussion. If you’ve picked a super-focused target, it might be fine to skip assignments and have the whole team swarm the same part of your problem. If there are several key pieces to cover, you should divide up.
  • If you do decide to divide up, the easiest approach is to ask each person to write down the part he or she is most interested in. Then go around the room and mark each person’s name next to the piece of the map that person wants to tackle in the sketches.

If you end up with too many people on one spot and not enough on another, ask for volunteers to switch.

You’re finally going to get a chance to sketch some solutions.

Wait a minute. Did somebody say “sketch”?

Credits to Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz authors of the best book, Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days




UX Design Intern @ CodeDrills || Student @ NIT, Bhopal

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Varnika Verma

Varnika Verma

UX Design Intern @ CodeDrills || Student @ NIT, Bhopal

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