Jake Knapp

Lightning Demos

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60 - 902 - 12 Low

This is an exercise to inspire your team with products or services that they think they can use as inspiration for their concepts in the next phases of their design sprints.


Additional info

Brief outline:

  1. Research for inspiring products and services: Each participant researched individually and comes up with 2-3 examples that they think the team can use as inspiration (25 mins)
  2. Present each inspiration (max 3 minutes per concept) and take notes about the key points. By the end, have a whiteboard with ten to twenty ideas. (30-60 mins)


Provide inspiration before coming up with innovative product/service ideas





    1. Research

    Ask participants to come up with a list of products or services to review for inspiring solutions. Give 25 minutes for team members to do a round of research individually.

    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 team member to write the big idea from the example on a post-it note. The result should be 3 examples of products or services that each member thinks the team could use as inspiration for their concepts in the next phase. Write each idea on a post-it note.

    2. Give 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 about it, and put up the post-it notes on the wall.

    It’s a good idea to keep a timer going: each demo should be around three minutes long. (You can use laptops, phones, and other devices for these tours and preferably connect them to a big screen so everyone can easily see.)

    Before starting the demos, assign someone to take notes (or sketching) on a whiteboard about the key points of each idea. The best is to make a quick drawing of the inspiring component, write a simple headline above it, and note the source underneath.

    At this stage, 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. 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 at the next steps when you start to sketch


    • When searching for inspiration, you don't have to stay in your own industry. Feel free to borrow inspiration from entirely different businesses.
    • Members may also show the team their own ideas (e.g. if they have something they have been working on previously)
    • Coming up with these lists on the spot is sometimes easier than it sounds. Alternatively, you can assign the research part of this exercise as homework before the session.
    • The note-taking on the whiteboard can be done either sketching (if you have someone volunteering from the team who knows how to draw, or a co-facilitator who can draw), or take notes in word form.


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