Global Service Jammin’

Service Jam Shrewsbury 2016

Last weekend saw the inaugural running of the Global Service Jam in Shrewsbury – Service Jam Shrewsbury.  Around 2500 jammers participated in over 100 jams taking place in 39 countries simultaneously – Including teams working out of our twin jam in LjubLjana, Slovenia. Linking all of the jams together was a theme which was kept a secret until 18:30 on the night before the jam began in ernest. The secret theme is intended as a catalyst rather than a challenge in itself. Service Jam Shrewsbury was one of 12 happening in cities across the UK and provided us with the opportunity to show the UK, and the rest of the world just how passionate we are about Service Design and Innovation here in Shropshire.

But what is a Global Service Jam I hear you cry? Well service jams are the same as a musical jam, except instead of musicians coming together to have a good time, challenge themselves, learn new skills, and meet new collaborators, it’s people interested in using design to improve services coming together to do all of the above as well as develop ideas that they would never have had on their own. In the same way as a musician doesn’t come to a jam to record an album, a service jam isn’t a start-up event; it isn’t designed to create a business or new service on Monday morning. Jams place a focus much earlier on in the innovation process. The impact from the jam isn’t found in the challenges or ideas that were worked on over the weekend, but more over in the legacy that it leaves behind in the form of work that will be done in the coming months by individuals who attended the jam – be it back in their own organisations or as part of a new network or partnership that the jam helped to facilitate.

One of our iLab priorities for 2016 is to network. It goes hand in hand with another priority which is to collaborate. In my previous blog post (Reflecting upon 12 months of iLab) I talked about the importance of getting the right mix of people working on iLab missions. Events such as Global Service Jam are a perfect way to grow and expand our internal and external networks by meeting a whole bunch of new people from a wide range of backgrounds. Last weekend Jo and I were lucky enough to be joined by 7 jammers (not bad for the first event) including two people from charity sector organisations and one from the NHS. From a facilitator’s point of view it was fantastic to see the jammers working together, each bringing a different set of perspectives and skills to work they were doing. Over the course of the weekend the jammers here in Shrewsbury worked hard on two very respectable challenges. The secret theme worked really well and inspired a lot of useful conversation around the social challenges the two teams decided to work on:

  • How might we enable young people to access new opportunities and encourage them to experiment to grow self worth.
  • How might we help people to do a little bit for someone else every day in order to grow more inclusive communities.

The Global Service Jam mantra is #DoingNotTalking. Jams provide the opportunity for teams to work through a whole design process in just 48 hours. Day one of Service Jam Shrewsbury saw the teams undertaking scoping, research, and research synthesis as part of an ExpoLab, followed by idea generation and rapid prototyping in the form of the Imaginarium. Day two saw the teams working through prototyping in the ProtoLab before entering the CatapultLab phase in the form of a 5 minute presentation summary of the weekend’s work. Key to the whole process was jammers taking to the street to undertake user research as well as prototyping. The jammers in Shrewsbury took themselves out of their comfort zones and threw themselves into the weekend with excitement and enthusiasm; something that was a delight to watch. More about the challenges can be found on the Global Service Jam website by searching under location.

The Global Service Jam website contains information uploaded last weekend by jammers from around the world. It contains a wealth of information that can be used to inspire new social innovations throughout 2016 and beyond. Whilst this was the first Global Service Jam event to be held in Shrewsbury, I’m sure it won’t be the last. If you would like to know more about Service Jam Shrewsbury, including how to get involved in future jams please drop us a line – we’d love to hear from you.

Simon Penny – @simon_penny


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