UX Rocks “Jamming Workshop” — a Lightning Decision Jam case study
I think we all participated in many unstructured meetings with no designated moderator, that ended without reaching their goals. Brick by brick, meetings of this kind are building an inefficient work environment in companies. Participants build up repulsion and that drives to a lack of engagement. All of this is translated in loss of time, money, efficiency and creates frustrations.
Our intention with the Jamming Workshop was to address this issue to the Iași product design community and present the Lightning Decision Jam framework, created by the guys from AJ&Smart. This exercise is meant to prevent endless discussions that may occur in unstructured meetings, quickly come up with solutions and take action. The Lightning Decision Jam exercise combines the world’s best problem-solving processes like Design Thinking, Gamestorming, Design Sprint, Agile into a 1h-1,5h session and it illustrates the essence of this methodologies. It is based on the same basic principle as Design Sprint is, working together alone.
So the intention was there, the event was promoted, the people were subscribing and we were happy. But we still needed a topic to apply this exercise on. After some ideas discussed and voted among the UX Rocks team, we decided on a topic with a larger understanding, something with meaning that could have a continuity in the community. So we decided on this:
The big idea: Change the mindset of Iasi’s product people towards innovation and creativity.
Vision: Iasi has a huge potential and opportunity regarding innovation and creativity, that just needs to be acknowledged, planned and acted upon. We want to turn the eyes of investors to our community so we can grow new innovative products and move away from the outsourcing mindset.
This proved to be a good topic because the engagement during the exercise was 100% and it was AWESOME.
As we had 16 participants and 4 uxrockers (the members of UX Rocks) we created four teams of 5 people each with one rocking moderator. The only thing we were uncertain about, was how to handle the time-boxing on each step. Should each team work individually? Or should we have a general timer for all the teams? We chose the second option and as it turned out, it was the successful one.
After we presented the Why, What and How of the workshop, work began.
The Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ) exercise, the way that we did it, was structured in 8 steps:
- Things that are working
- Capture problems
- Prioritize problems
- Reframe problems as challenges
- Create solutions
- Prioritize solutions
- Choose the top solution
- Make solution actionable
1. Things that are working
We started by drawing a sailboat and encouraged people to write on sticky-notes as many positive things as they could, related to the development of the IT industry and the state of innovation in our area.
This already popped out some interesting stuff that could summarize the current state of the design community in Iasi. To give you some examples:
- People are open to voluntary work to make a change
- Most people are smart and open minded
- IT conferences happening in our area
- Airport investment
- The increasing number of office buildings
- Startup accelerator and coworking spaces
- Social communities
2. Capture problems
After starting with a positive vibe, we’ve gone under the water and came up with the “bad” stuff.
More than in the previous step, people really started to focus. A lot of diversified problems began to emerge. Starting with the lack of people’s engagement and the lack of initiatives, and ending with poor educational system and the lack of infrastructure investments. I had the feeling that if we would keep this step the whole day, we would expose all the Romania’s administrative problems :).
3. Prioritize problems
I’ve noticed that this wasn’t an easy step for the participants. A lot of problems seemed to be priorities but giving the limited dots, they have complied and completed the task with a small time extension.
Four stick-note Christmas trees resulted after this step.
But I must say that we were all pleasantly surprised with the results. The Christmas trees were very beautiful decorated.
4. Reframe problems as challenges
Having a lot of problems tends to be pretty depressing, so we needed to transform our most voted problems into challenges that we could act on and head for a more optimistic phase, which is finding solutions. As easy as it sounds, to reformulate a phrase into a challenge is quite… well… challenging. We barely made it on time.
Half the way through the exercise, people started to get more excited about what’s next.
5. Create solutions
This is where diverge took over once again. Everyone started to come up with ideas on how to attack the challenge. I personally enjoy this part the most because this is where your mind goes wild. No limits on going to Mars! (too bad though this wasn’t the challenge, it would have been quite interesting).
6. Prioritize solutions
The brains started to cool off. A joke was made to get the attention out of that deep focus and we started to vote on what we thought are the best solutions to solve our problems. Now the excitement was towards finding “better ideas than mine” and the curiosity took over.
7. Choose the top solutions
After voting the most important solutions, it was time to see which one could be acted on first. For this, we used the Impact/Effort scale. First, as a team, we decided on the impact the solution would have and then the effort for doing it. The first solution you put on the scale becomes a benchmark for the following.
Once the voted solutions were up, we marked the solutions from the sweet-spot (top-left section) so we can differentiate them from the rest.
8. Make solutions actionable
We took the sweet-spot solutions and each team came up with 3 actionable steps for testing them, considering a time-frame of 2–3 weeks.
Once the exercise was finished, we asked a member from each team (other than the moderator) to present the results.
Hopefully, in 2019 we will take the best ideas resulted after this exercise and start taking real consistent actions in our community. If you are interested in the results or you want to get involved in future workshops, you can join our Design Sprint Romania Facebook group.
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