What is the Crazy Eights?

Crazy 8s is an ideation technique that removes overthinking, in the hope of unlocking your subconscious. It is a fun group activity – that’s why they call it crazy. Basically, you’re sketching 8 solutions in 8 minutes, allowing 1 minute for each iteration. There’s little time to think, contemplate and second guess. And there are no drawing skills required for this, as long as people can understand your idea.
It is a design sprint method, typically done on Day 2, when you’re heavily brainstorming. It doesn’t take long and ensures that you’re not going around in circle without any progress at the end of the day.
You’re given absolute free rein to interpret a solution however you like in those short minutes. Sure, if you had a longer time to generate ideas, you may be able to draft better solutions, but this is where most people fail to see the point of a sprint. Until your proposal is tested, it is as good as just an idea, which is a dime in a dozen.
Crazy eights are about generating many ideas fast, so you can remove bad ones, vote on the good ones, combine them, and get an even better one. You will sketch ideas individually, diverging from the group, and then converging back as a group, voting, and building the best idea from individual ones.

How to do the Crazy Eights?

First, you’ll need to brief every one of the challenges and the goal. If you’re doing the Crazy 8’s as part of a design sprint, you would have worked through the challenges, goals, current user experience and have gone through some inspiration in the lightning demo.
Here’s how to run a Crazy Eights session:
1. Fold an A4 paper, or any larger paper, twice to get 8 sections.
2. Start your timer for 1 minute. Everyone will sketch their idea on one section of the paper.
3. When the timer stops, start the timer again for a minute. Everyone sketches the next iteration of their idea on a new section of the paper.

4. Repeat until all 8 sections are filled.

5. Pin all the papers on a whiteboard.
6. Each person takes turn to explain their sketches. If you want to save time, let each person explain only their 3 best designs.
7. Distribute 2-3 dot stickers to each person for voting. Put stickers on the ideas you love the most.
8. The sketch with the most votes is your winning solution. Alternatively, you can combine the 3 most voted ideas into one, picking elements people love and combining into a newer, better solution.

Running a remote Crazy Eights

You can definitely run Crazy 8’s remotely. If you’re doing it for the first time, it will take longer than a face-to-face session because of the sketching part. Not many people, apart from designers, are comfortable drawing using software. And if you’re in a design sprint, you will have participants who are marketers, developers, and managers, so be aware of that when planning the session.

There are 2 ways to do it:
  1. If most people are uncomfortable using online tools for drawing, you can let them sketch by hand on a piece of paper. Then take a photo of the sketches and upload to the virtual whiteboard you’re using. You can have people email the items to someone who will upload the files, or they can upload themselves, depending on the software you’re using.
  2. Use tools such as Invision’s Freehand, Sketch, Procreate and a handful of design software that you’re comfortable working with. Choose one that allows you to easily convert the files to a different format to upload to your whiteboard, or one that integrates seamlessly with the whiteboard app. If you’re using this method, then it’s best for people to test it out before the session or before the design sprint starts. It’ll save time and reduce technical errors.
Apart from that, the whole process runs as you would run in an offline session as outlined in the previous section. Most whiteboard software like Mural, Miro and Invision have timer and voting features. They are easy to configure and use. Once you have narrowed down the popular ideas, you can get a designer to stitch all the elements together to produce the final solution.

How to run a remote Crazy Eights session

  1. If you’re doing hand sketches, take an A4 paper, or something bigger, and fold into 8 sections. If you’re using an app, you can draw 8 sections.
  2. Start the timer for 1 minute and start drawing in an empty section.
  3. Once the timer is up, repeat the previous step until you have filled up all 8 sections.
  4. For those doing hand sketches, they can take a photo of their work, and upload to the virtual whiteboard software that the group is using. For those using apps to sketch, they can export to a file that can be uploaded to the whiteboard app.
  5. Each person now gets to talk and explain their ideas for a few minutes.
  6. Assign voting stickers to participants and start the timer for the voting process.
  7. The most popular idea is your final solution. Or you can take popular elements from the top 3 most voted designs and combine it into a better idea.
And that’s how to run a remote Crazy 8’s. Apart from using different tools, it really is not much different to running one in a workshop. You’ll still reap the same benefits and fun.
Alvin Hermanto

Alvin Hermanto

Alvin Hermanto is a design leader who is passionate about practicality, quality, and human-centred design. As founder of award winning digital design agency, Relab, his clients include leading businesses in retail, education, real estate, and hospitality. He has personally grown Relab to be one of Australia’s leading design sprint agencies. You’ll find him speaking at design sprint, business, and educational events. His mission is simple: help others build and launch products faster without compromising quality or sacrificing user satisfaction. He also thrives on mentoring small businesses and startups, getting them to simplify processes, build better businesses and create productive teams.