Dundee has been jamming as part of the Global Service Jam since 2013. From Kampala to Kathmandu, Beirut to Bogota, Los Angeles to Loughborough, Stockholm to Sydney, there were 2952 people in 122 cities jamming through the weekend to produce 500 projects. It was a remarkable experience that engaged and excited everyone involved.
GovJam focuses the activity on the public sector – how do we create an intensive, agile experience that marries serious learning and problem solving to a fun collaborative globally connected environment?
The value of the Jam centres on the experience created and how it challenges and changes our preferred ways of working. So here are some observations based on our experiences to date.
1. It’s about learning
Adam St John Lawrence makes the point that “It’s about learning by doing – and this does not only mean learning skills. I might learn more about how I work, who I work best with, who I might be friends with.” And it is. A jam is an intense learning activity. What you learn from it depends on how open and flexible you are prepared to be, and how far beyond your comfort zone you are prepared to step.
You will learn some essential service design techniques and methods, and – importantly – how to prototype services that you develop. We show people how to make models and use role play to test propositions.
And if you’re not sure about role-play, we bring in acting professionals to show you how it’s done. We have speakers in at various points, but the emphasis is on inspiration and encouragement, and participants learning from each other.
2. Working together
The jam ethos is about bringing people together, bridging professional divides and learning from each other. It’s like a music jam – people bring their own strengths and expertise, and share to inspire others.
Partnership underpins the whole idea. Indeed we are not there to design for people but with them. We provide people with methods and approaches to get out on the streets to understand key issues and problem people experience, and involve them in the design process.
During the jam you spend periods out on the street – whatever the weather! There you will develop and test ideas, bringing your insights back to our workbase. For GovJam we will be using the Gardyne Campus, where will have access to making facilities and digital connectivity to prototype ideas. We will have minibuses at our disposal to ship you to and from the city centre.
3. Eating together
At the Dundee Jams we take our food seriously. We provide breakfast on the Thursday and Friday and evening meals on the Tuesday and Wednesday. This year we will draw on the expertise of Dundee & Angus College catering students to provide great food!
4. Doing not talking
This is the Jam Mantra. Mind you, from the noise generated you wouldn’t really have known. But we emphasise trying things out, role play, model making, testing ideas in the real world. It enables teams to play with ideas, propositions and approaches in a flexible, responsive way. The physical crafting of problems and strategies, and in particular its use as a storytelling device to engage the public and the jam community, demonstrates a further characteristic of the jam….
5. Jamming is connecting
Farrah Berrou was the blogger for the Beirut Service Jam. In her blog she wrote “Highlight of the Event: Skype call with fellow Jammers in Dundee, Scotland”. To be honest, it was our highlight too. During the course of the Jam we skyped with Los Angeles, New York, Stockholm, Mumbai, Auburn Alabama and Melbourne. To begin with we did this from a large TV in the studio. This was fine and helped largely to enable some good conversations between organisers, but it set limits on engaging our participants.
So Ross Crawford carried a laptop around the workspace to introduce jammers across the world to each other. This transformed the sense of internationalism in the jam. All of our international Skype buddies brought a great sense of global connectedness to the occasion, but when we hooked up with Beirut, it was particularly magic.
Let’s get some GovJam participant views
Everything above is based on our experience of running the Service Jam – very similar but less of a public service focus. So let’s hear from some GovJam participants, beginning with a video diary from last year’s Leeds GovJam:
Next let’s learn about the GovJam experience in Miami:
Finally, here are three other accounts: