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Best workshop exercises we know VI
A conversation between Dave Gray and Jose Manuel Redondo Lopera
Dave Gray writes the Gamestorming newsletter, and I write the Facili-station newsletter. We thought you might enjoy reading a conversation between the two of us about our favourite workshop exercises. We will each write three letters, responding to each other’s thoughts.
Letter 1 from Dave, about the exercises he comes back to over and over again every time he plans a workshop.
Letter 2 from me, about the 5 types of foundational exercises at the core of any workshop.
Letter 3 from Dave, about facilitating creative energy and flow.
Letter 4 from me, a deep dive into how I uses the sailboat metaphor
Letter from Dave, about his favourite workshop exercise of all.
This is letter number 6, and the last one of the exchange.
It’s always a blast and a real fun to playfully exchange ideas and thoughts with you.
As you, I did save my best workshop exercise for last.
This a light hearted, fast pacing and fun exercise that helps easily to spark and ignite both inspiration and engagement in any kind of innovation, idea creation, exploration, product development or hackathon kind of workshop.
It always amazes me how quickly people get on board and the amount of energy and ideas it creates. It works very well in 1 -2 hours idea generation workshop, and works as well with both small and big groups.
This exercise is very well known from the original Design Sprint book, happens on Tuesday (the second day in the Design Sprint), and it is called “Lightning Demos”.
Lightning Demos are great for getting the whole group inspired, geared into the solution-searching mode, and for taking the creative pressure off. Because the lightning demo is a fun way to ignite creativity, you can do it as a stand-alone exercise with your team.
It is a structured “show and tell” group session to gather ideas and inspiration. Its purpose is to share ideas, find a muse and spark everyone’s imagination in an efficient and productive manner. You can use the lightning demo for any product or problem you’re solving
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time you’re looking for new ideas, so the goal of the exercise is to find as many great examples of other products, companies, or things that are solving a challenge similar to yours as possible.
You can think of this exercise as a short research session that will help the group gather valuable information on how others solve similar issues. When searching for inspiration, you don't have to stay in your own industry. Feel free to borrow inspiration from entirely different businesses.
Room set up
This exercise relies on people being able to present ideas to the group, often these will be presented digitally so you will need attendees to bring their laptops and / or phones.
You will need to set-up something to present onto, a monitor or projector, to make sure each participant sees the demo clearly.
You will need internet connection or Wi-Fi
You will also need to give each participant a pack of rectangular sticky notes and a marker.
Always use a timer to control the time. People tend to waffle on when presenting their ideas, especially if they have a lot to go through.
Give everyone 20 - 25 minutes to individually research ideas, find inspirational solutions and good designs. Ask them to to use their devices to look out for 1-3 products, companies, services, or people who solved a similar problem or came up with an innovation in an inspiring way.
It is important that the facilitator at the beginning, gives some good examples. Participants will no doubt be used to sharing ideas with their colleagues, but it's unlikely they will have been put on the spot like this to find examples quickly. They also may be unused to thinking laterally about a problem and looking outside their industry or sector for inspiration, so give them some good example of a Lightning Demo before they start.
Lightning Demos are run in ‘together alone’ mode, so no discussion or information sharing takes place in the research phase
“Together, alone” is when even though a team of people are sitting together at the same table, they are essentially working individually. This is the best way to avoid being influenced and biased by your colleagues.
Remind people to think outside of your industry or field. They may also consider inspiration from within the company. Everything they review should contain something good they can learn from.
Tell each participant to write the big idea from the example on a post-it note.
The post-it note should follow an easy template:
the big idea, and
a few extra bits elaborating on the excellent way this idea works and how it applies to your situation.
The result should be 3 examples of products or services that each participant thinks the team could use as inspiration for their concepts in the next phase. Write each idea on a post-it note.
2. Show demos and capture key ideas
After the research round, ask everyone to present their ideas one-by-one, showing the whole team what’s so cool and interesting about it.
Give each participant 3 minutes to present their Lightning Demos. You can limit it to just 3 big ideas per person in 3 minutes: 1 idea per minute.
It’s best if you have a a monitor or a projector in the room so that each participant can present their ideas on a bigger screen for everyone to see. The presenter shows the group one or two key screens of each Lightning Demo and elaborates by reading out the bullet points from the sticky note to the group.
At the end of the presentation, everyone sticks up their Lightning Demo post-it notes on the board. Once the board is done, give participants time to digest all the ideas, and as facilitator, you go one by one and read them out.
After everyone’s had a turn, you should have a big board full of ideas that serves as a springboard to design your solution. I recommend you capture the outputs and share them with your team after the workshop as a record of what you did.
Lightning Demos can also be easily conducted remotely. People will share screenshots, images, and videos that you can easily upload to your virtual whiteboard.
Thanks for taking the time to read this last exchange letter.
Until next time!