How to use remote LDJs to save time!

An inside look at how we collaborate and create, simplified!

Here at PhazeRo, we help those who are looking to create meaningful and transformative experiences through world-class digital solutions and products that are led by design principles.

Creating exceptional digital experiences takes time and continuous improvement. We’re always curious to learn how other companies and professionals across the globe are creating solutions that help build and scale their customers’ businesses.

Introduced to us by AJ&Smart, an award-winning product design sprint agency, Lightning Decision Jams or LDJs are workshops designed to replace open-ended, circling, and unstructured discussions with a clear process. To foster a culture of collaboration and active communication, we conduct weekly retrospectives to reflect on how we work, individually and as a team, to continuously become better. As a team, we decided to integrate LDJs into our weekly retrospectives.

What exactly is an LDJ?

The Lightning Decision Jam or LDJ is a workshop experience created by the good folks at AJ&Smart. This can be used internally and externally within businesses. In instances where problems are hazy and solutions seem non-existent, LDJs can be used to develop an action plan. Be it a small startup or global corporation, LDJs are effective for all businesses.

How LDJs save us time?

We use LDJs to:

  • Identify and focus on one problem in order to fully solve it
  • Make sure everyone is heard in order to be aligned and to create a wide gamut of solutions
  • Effectively evaluate solutions based on effort and impact of the solutions
  • Arrive at a clear action plan that can be implemented immediately
  • Develop a workshopping culture (vs endless meetings) to consistently create value for ourselves and our customers

What do I need for my first LDJ?

This person ensures they are guiding the participants through the workshop effectively, ensuring everyone knows what is going on

  • A decider

This person ensures if there is any point of contention or circular decisions, a decision can be made to move forward

  • A support person

This person ensures if there is any point of contention or circular decisions, a decision can be made to move forward

  • A good, focused 60–90 minutes
  • A playlist with good focus music!

Running your first LDJ!

Step 1 — Introduce the topic (5 minutes)

The facilitator welcomes the attendees and introduces the topic by further explaining it and answering any immediate doubts or questions.

Step 2 — Capture the positives (5 minutes)

The following exercise will be done in the following board:

The facilitator will ask everyone to take a sticky note and write down what is going well and what is moving us towards the goal. If there is a lack of participation due to lack of clarity, the facilitator can intervene and transition into an active discussion

Step 3 — Capture the problems (5 minutes)

The facilitator will ask everyone to take a sticky note and write down what is not going well and what is not moving us towards the goal. If there is a lack of participation due to lack of clarity, the facilitator can intervene and transition into an active discussion.

Step 4 — Prioritize the problems (3 minutes)

The facilitator will ask everyone to vote with their voting dots on the problems that are most important to solve. Each participant gets 3 votes. The facilitator will sort the problems based on the number of votes. The top three voted problems are picked

The final board will then look something like this:

Step 5 — Reframe the problems as challenges (3 minutes)

The facilitator nominates three participants to reframe the top problems as “How Might We” or “HMW statements” which reframes problems as challenges. Each participant will write three (3) HMW statements for each problem, the decider then picks an HMW statement from each problem.

Step 6 — Ideate several solutions (6 minutes)

Step 7 — Prioritize the solutions (4 minutes)

The facilitator will ask everyone to vote with their voting dots on the solutions that are most important to solve. Each participant gets six (6) votes. The facilitator will sort the problems based on the number of votes. The solutions with three (3) votes or more are picked for the next step.

Step 8 — Decide what to execute on (10 minutes)

With the list of solutions, it is now important to determine what is low-effort and high-impact on the effort-impact matrix. In this case, “effort” is how much time and energy will be needed to implement the solution and “impact” is how effective is the solution towards solving the problem. The facilitator proactively will take each solution, hover above the scale read it out loud and ask the participants where the solution lies. It is okay for discussions to happen here but should be limited to a maximum of 30 seconds to maintain a pace.

Step 9 — Make solutions actionable (5 minutes)

For all the solutions that are in the yellow-zone, the decider will pick one solution that can be implemented or completed in two weeks.

After the solution has been picked, each participant will write at least three actionable steps for the solution. The goal with this process is to not overthink or over-discuss solutions, but rather allow every participant an opportunity to share actionable solution step that can take no longer than a couple of weeks to execute.

After everyone has written their action steps, the facilitator will have everyone read out their solutions.

Here’s an example of action steps:

After everyone has shared their solutions, the facilitator will thank all participants and will end the LDJ.

That’s it! In an hour, we have defined important challenges, identified potential solutions and prioritize on what solution to implement without any unneeded discussions.

(Bonus) Track long-term solution implementation

This is where the facilitator can translate and synthesize the LDJ to create real, practical, and implementable solutions.

In this phase, we use GitHub as project management tool where mainly we are able to create “issues” which allow our team to have a dialogue in context of the issue.

Step 1 — Identify patterns and commonalities

The facilitator will review all the action plans created by the participants and will identify any similarities in order to craft a well-aligned action plan.

Step 2 — Synthesize action plan

Use the following format for the LDJ issue:

  1. LDJ Topic
  2. Highly voted blockers on the LDJ topic:
  3. Key areas the team decided to focus on:
  4. Action:
  5. Steps to do this:
  6. Potential challenges:

Step 3 — Create an issue in a GitHub repository

Here the facilitator will create a GitHub issue in a repository to track the solution from plan to implementation.

With each LDJ workshop, an issue will be created and once every month, we have a traditional retro meeting once a month to collectively review the action plans and ensure they can be implemented smoothly.

That’s all folks! Through the power of structured workshops, we are able to identify important challenges, brainstorm potential solutions, and collectively prioritize on what to take action on.

With this in mind, PhazeRo is inculcating this process to foster a culture of collaboration, active communication and results orientation.

Written by the team at PhazeRo.

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PhazeRo is a software consulting firm that designs and develops custom software solutions for organizations that want to make an impact through technology.