4th Jam DONE!

Carien de Heus
Feb 27, 2017 · 6 min read

Last weekend Nynke, Emma and I organized the Amsterdam Service Jam. It was the fourth time for Nynke and me! The Jam is an event that is organized in 80 places around the world at the same time. A weekend to get introduced or have a practical workout in service design and get together with fellows to have fun. The motto of the Global Service Jam is: Doing Not Talking!

In this write-up I talk a about my experiences of this years Jam, focussing on People, Space and Program:

People — Most important of the Jam for me personally is getting as much people together that are eager to start doing service design. Design Thinking Amsterdam, Service Design Network Netherlands, Global Service Jam and our own network helped us spread the rumour. Finding the right channels and message for the event can costs quite some time. Every year different groups of people come to the event and this year we had a striking amount of women (23/35). More than half of the 35 participants were experienced (service) designers. It was a great group with lots of enthusiasm!

Speakers — Having inspirational speakers during the Jam helps to give more in-depth knowledge on service design. We had talks from 4 young designers. On Friday Niels — introduced us into service design the way Koos Service Design tackles this. Saturday morning Gabriella — talked about her experience setting up garage2020, with the vision to make youth-care redundant. Saturday afternoon Melanie — gave us practical tips on getting insights into practice using former and current projects at info.nl. On Sunday morning Jan showed how you make and test conceptual prototypes.

These talks give participants to reflect and have some breathing-time in between working.

Coaches — We had a bunch of great coaches helping the teams. Thanks for being awesome: Ashlee Valdes and Kees van Nunen, (thanks for being there the whole weekend!!), Niels, Jan, Marcel and Wouter . They helped out by challenging the teams and encouraging in the process. Giving out more guidance in terms of tools, f.e. setting up a customer journey, persona or giving ideation sessions. Working out some team-dynamics issues, since people can get quite fanatic in a weekend is also part of that. Or just by giving some extra energy, hands or information to the teams and the organization.

Having these great people there enables us to keep an eye on the overall process and cooking ;).

Jury & winners— A 4-headed jury rated the final presentations: Floor from Koos Service Design, Harald from Essense, Kees as an critical lean startup expert and Marcel Jansens. They gave the teams some good advice and awarded two prices: team power for team chearfull that created a stick-figure movie in just a couple of hours. The winning team was #freshprince movement. They created a simple an viable concept that could be kicking off since yesterday about breaking your daily routines. The output of the other teams can be found here.

Having a jury might feel as a big committee but as you have worked these 48 hours having this feedback is very valuable for your learning-spirit.

Space & Materials— Makerversity gave us the opportunity to use their space for the whole weekend. A room for presentations, food and warmups and the big makerspace hall with plenty of room. A good place that fits the event neatly. Have such a flexible and basic space helps to make it a Jam-space. Thanks Sebastiaan!

Your workspace can be your extra team-member. I had a little stress moment when we found out that the huge work-hall doesn’t have many walls, since the space was off course full with machines and stuff. Walls are in my opinion something essential in a design process to hang your concepts, post-its etc. However, the teams worked out their own spaces immediately and especially on Saturday afternoon there was a good and creative vibe.

Programme— In 4 years we’ve kept the program of the Jam quite the same. Friday evening - forming teams and using the #GSJAM theme to create challenges, Saturday morning going out, Saturday afternoon from insights to ideas to prototypes and testing in a gallery-format, Sunday morning for iterating prototypes to make it understandable and presentable on Sunday afternoon. This year presentations were at 14.00 (instead of 15.30) to buy some time for drinks and cleaning on Sunday.

Time — Good timing helps creating a great program, however timing is not always my best quality :). Sometimes I really feel being a TIME-monster, but many jammers shared that time-boxing is still magic to start doing things instead of talking. You’re always finding the right tension between tight scheduling and a relax flow.

Tools are not the center — As the field of Service Design is growing up people are making it more and more about applying service design tools. These are in a sense very important, especially when you are in a professional surrounding were you should be accountable for the resources you spend. However being able to slow down, get creative and improvise helps to create better ideas and prototypes. I hope that the people that wanted to learn more about service design tools, learned that improvising is actually a good way to step out of that toolbox. And that they’ve additionally found a community that helps each other finding the right tools for their projects.

Sunday: more Prototyping and Testing — It is difficult to kick off your Sunday even if you had a good retro on Saturday and nice warm-up in the morning. On Sunday you’ll want to start making things more concrete as soon as possible in order to start testing your stuff before presentations. We might make too big of a deal about the presentations and therefore teams put their effort in making a good story instead of an experienceable service. Next year it’ll be fun to make it obligatory to use someone from the crowd to use their service instead of presenting it.

Focus on feedback and learning — For us the Jam is about learning and not about the results. In order to keep this focus we asked everyone to take a moment and write down their learning-goals for the weekend. This helps to make explicit what people want to gain from this weekend and we could see if we should change the program towards their learning-goals.

We always close the day with “ I like, I wish” (old D.school memories :), everyone can share their experience of the day and also give us immediate feedback.

Going further — We already found the beginning of an enthusiastic group of people interested in organizing the next Service Jam! For Nynke an me this was unfortunately the last time organizing it, since the Jam is needing some fresh minds :) but we had 4 awesome years. Off course we attend again, in Amsterdam orrr maybe Ibiza, Berlin, DC, Dundee or Barcelona (Twinning goes on!).

During the Jam we already had some lively discussions on SD/DT: What is the added value of a facilitator/mentor/coach? What is the added value of Lean Startup in Service Design and the other way around? What is the difference between in-house SD-ers, SD-ers from agencies and SD freelancers? & Let’s learn something else because SD is just an extra capability.

Together with the communities we want to help to create more sharing moments among young experienced service designers. For me personally it helps a lot to share experiences from the field and have some practical feedback. This is why I like to attend conferences like the Service Experience Camp. It’s cool to see that in the 4 years that passed the service design community is growing and becoming more mature in Amsterdam.

It was a very good weekend! Now off to work again & text me if you have some questions!

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