Insights into the Global Service Design Jam

Adam Lawrence and Markus Edgar Hormeß of WorkPlayExperience joined us during Virtual SDGC20 (October 22-23) to share insights into 10 years of the Global Service Design Jam!

48 hours to change the world.

That's the rallying cry of the Service Design Jam, a global phenomenon which brings together service designers around the world to pool their design-based approach and knowledge, to prototype services around a global theme. 

Virtual SDGC20 (October 22-23) had the pleasure of welcoming to our online stages the founders of the Service Design Jam, Adam Lawrence and Markus Edgar Hormeß, both of WorkPlayExperience. These trailblazers joined us in recognition of the 10-year mark of the launch of the first Global Service Jam, an experience that has been instrumental in shaping the growth and impact of the service design industry. 

After a decade of over a thousand "Jams," a bit of reflection on these unique experiences appeared timely. Adam and Markus shared those insights during our global conference. Nevertheless, because there were so many questions around the topic, there was a need to move the conversation over to our SDN Slack Channel. We are pleased to share those questions and responses from Adam with you right here: 

How do you create a safe space for the participants within a jam, so everyone feels free to open up, try and play?

That's a really important question for all service designers. How do we help people do new, unfamiliar things? Things which sometimes challenge who they think they are?

One trick to make the Jam "separate" enough from the every day is to make it different but "connected" enough to make it relevant. Having a really clear timeframe helps this, as can changing the physical or digital space in some way. You also need to make it fit the people in the room, perhaps with a relatively conservative start. And also accept that not all Jams look the same, and not all Jams fit everyone.

This needs a longer answer and at WorkPlayExperience we think about these things a lot. (I wrote a big section on this in chapter 10 of #TiSDD if you have a copy). You could also ask the Global Jam Community on Facebook, the link is in the Miro board.

Based on your 10-year experience, is there any key points you guys think the GSJam organisers should pay extra attention to?

"Keep it fun, and keep it moving."

Use deadlines and tasks to keep Jammers on their feet and getting out of the building as often as possible... And don't take yourself too seriously. It's a Jam!

Sketchnotes from Virtual SDGC20 -- Janice Chan
Sketchnotes from Virtual SDGC20 — Janice Chan

What was your greatest jam disaster? And what did you learn from it?

I don't think we have had a disaster. We do have lots of people who call us after a Jam and say "I'm going to quit my job! I want to JAM EVERY DAY!" We have a conversation about being your jam-self at work, and about sprints vs reflection etc… Sometimes when you Jam hard it's easy to take people around you for granted. Perhaps there have been some losses there that were disastrous, but that's our fault, not the Jams. 

How has service design changed since you started the Jams and what will be the next step in your opinion?

Service design is changing all the time, but I think it has certainly grown in confidence. A lot of that comes from a better understanding of design through exposure to it (maybe the Jams helped a little bit there) but we also have the valuable longitudinal studies that show the efficacy of design-led approaches. And it helps that Big 4 consultancies also now offer SD. :)

I did a talk for the SDN on where service design is going (it will be online soon), and my special interest is how the needs of service design are served by the way organisations are evolving, and how we can help push that evolution through how we work.

Do you find it difficult to get management buy-in to Jams?

Not especially. It's important to present them as part of a project or programme, and show how they fit in that context. It's also really important to remember that (despite what some orgs. are selling just now) you can't do everything with a pressure-cooker event like a Jam. They are not always the answer. But they have clear uses and benefits.

How did you manage to spread the jam epidemic around the world? What, in your opinion, was the key to launch it?

We used a lot of Twitter. And we talked to some key people before we launched to make sure they were inside. But I think the most important aspect is that we give a space for local hosts to shine and show what they can do. That means they are strong ambassadors in their own community. One example is how every Jam can make their own version of the Global logos, to show they are unique but part of a family.

It also helps that we have some pretty clear visual imagery and a few "mantras" that we repeat over and over until they become very present. "Doing, not talking." "Show me, don't tell me." "Stop comparing opinions, start building prototypes." "Keep it fun!"

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