Tool: Lightning Decision Jam (problem-solving)

I’ll risk saying there is no one who never suffered through a lengthy and disorganized brainstorming meeting that, all in all, ended up with no decision at all. Rings a bell? Yeah! And even with me using design thinking (what I mean here is I can use tips, tricks, and tools because I know them, but it’s just a meeting), if the meeting is not facilitated (and most work meetings are not, actually, if the company is not strictly „let’s use dt” focused), the discussion can go on, and on, and on…


For discussions that are supposed to solve some problems, there is a way to cut the useless and unfocused tittle-tattle and quickly – but still collaboratively – get to the solutions.


Why use Lightning Decision Jam:

  • Time – it’s fast! No need to have multiple brainstorming meetings that tend to drag. The structure of LDJ adds time constraints and structure, so you’ll be able to arrive at solutions faster.
  • Easiness – it’s a structure simple to follow and doesn’t add the pressure of being creative or resign from your own ideas via discussion.
  • Bias-free – there is no discussion about „I like” vs „I don’t like,” it’s all based on practicality or democracy.
  • Focus – everyone is engaged in a certain problem and focused on creating solutions. There is no useless time passing.
  • Collaboration – even though ideas are made silently, the entire solution is worked on together, as everyone votes and agrees on solutions.
  • Inclusion – there is no division based on the position with the company or a job name, everyone has the same right to add solutions and vote. And because it’s silent, no one gets talked-over or intimidated.


Lightning Decision Jam

  • Tool goal: cut unstructured discussion and facilitate decision-making quickly and efficiently
  • No of participants: 1 facilitator, group best 4-8
  • Time needed: max. 1 hour (no time for long discussion)
  • Supplies needed: wall/flipchart/whiteboard, pens, post-it notes (rectangular, square in two different colors), voting dots or sharpies in two different colors
  • Note: keep the timing!



  • Start with all participants silently writing all things that work well. Time cap: 4 minutes. One idea per post-it.
  • Let the participants present their post-its, max. 1 minute per person. Stick them on one side of the wall.
  • * This is solely to start things in high, but good things won’t be worked on.

  • Next, let the participants write all things that don’t work, all negatives. Time cap: 5 minutes.
  • Put all post-its on the wall, and to avoid criticism at this stage, don’t discuss.
  • Everyone votes on the most urging problem that all of them (as a team) should solve. Each participant has 3 votes (3 sticky dots or just draw with a sharpie). Votes can be distributed on one post-it only, on multiple post-its, on their own post-its. Time cap: 4 minutes.
  • Arrange the post-its in the order of votes (assign priority).
  • Reweire the most voted problems (2-3 at most) into a challenging How Might We Questions (HMW). E.g. problem: there are no reusable straws in the kitchen; HMW: how might we bring reusable straws to the kitchen. Time cap: 3 minutes.
  • Each participant now writes their ideas to solve the HMW question. Time cap: 6 minutes.
  • Put all post-its on the wall, and to avoid criticism at this stage, don’t discuss.
  • Everyone now votes on the most interesting/applicable solutions. For this voting, each participant gets 6 votes (same voting tules apply). Time cap: 5 minutes.
  • Separate the most-voted solutions (3-4 max).
  • Categorize ideas on a scale. Typically, it’s the impact/effort scale, and everyone decided where each solution should be placed. Timpe cap: max 10 minutes.
  • * Adjust what is on the scale according to what you’re trying to achieve. E.g. time/cost, difficulty/time, or else.

  • Decide on the „sweet spot” from the scale and further the discussion on solutions that are closest to the sweet spot. Time cap: 2 minutes.


As a result…

  • You have a few but prioritize ideas to ac upon to solve a problem that means most to the participants.
  • Have more time to do other things.
  • Only focus on what matters, no wasted time for mindless discussion and back-and-forth „my way vs your way” convo.


The above is quite a lightning instruction for lightning decision jam. If you’re more of a detail-oriented person and you’d rather see it working play by play, here are your options. Enjoy!