Learning as you Host:
Tips for designing a playful, connected, respectful Global Service Jam, inside and out
#FreddyBerryJam weekend was a blast and as second-time hosts, we have some juicy hosting tips and tricks to share!
(First time hearing about a Jam? Check out last year’s post ‘Popping our Berry! Reflections on our experience as first-time Global Service Jam hosts’)
On March 16, 17 and 18, we hosted the second edition of Freddy Berry Jam joined online by 12 people from around Canada as well as India, Brazil and the USA.
Freddy Berry Jam is the Fredericton-located edition of the The Global Service Jam, an international event hosted annually by a network of volunteer jammers since 2011. Jams are an opportunity for folks to flex their creative muscles using a design-based approach to problem solving.
For three days, we jammed with hundreds of others from the Global Service Jam community to prototype services inspired by a mystery theme. This year’s mystery theme was… *insert drum roll* Brightness We Share (a touchingly humane theme created by the Global Service Jam team to contrast the darkness that was unfolding in Eastern Europe at the time the event was hosted).
In less than 14 hours, Freddy Berry Jammers explored the theme, chose 3 challenge spaces (space junk, toxic positivity, and urbanization), created 6 prototypes, and developed 3 business models… Go teams!
Earlier this year we chatted with past Jam participants and asked what would make a great second edition of Freddy Berry Jam. We are thankful for their feedback as they inspired us to build on what we had done well and how we could improve the following aspects of the Jam.
Hosting tip 1/3: Find the peanut butter to your jelly
We wanted to evoke a feeling of togetherness in this Jam. Since teletransportation is not yet a thing, we designed the online Jam experience to feel like we were together in person. We did this by creating communal and team working stations on the Miro board and facilitating activities that would resemble the interactions we would normally have at an in-person conference.
For example, for our first check-in we placed the attendees’ names in a circle and prompted them to imagine we were sitting in that order. We started with a volunteer and then moved to the person “sitting on the right.”
We structured the Miro board to reflect the flow of the sessions. We had a main board (left) for when we were all together, and team boards for when teams were working in breakout rooms.
Each team had their own strawberry, lemon, and apple themes, which served as visual cues to help orient team members throughout the Jam. This was found to be especially helpful for participants who were new to Miro.
Compared to the design of our first Freddy Berry Jam horizontal board, this year’s vertical design provided an intuitive, scrollable grid. We also included instructions for each activity on the main board and team boards. This way, attendees were able to stay in their own vertical lane to interact with the content that they had created previously, yet be able to easily navigate horizontally to see what other teams were doing because all the activities were aligned.
An unintended benefit of having the board set up this way was that for those participants who have one screen, they could divide their screen between Zoom and their board. This led to being able to meaningfully engage both with their fellow berry participants “face-to-face” and have room to work on the Miro board.
Hosting tip 2/3: Facilitate for Playfulness and Adaptability
We started Day 1 with a warm up exercise that used the improv method of “Yes and…”. to encourage participants to embrace playfulness, let go of things being perfect, improvise in a short time, and build on each other’s ideas.
This exercise came right after learning the mystery theme for this year “Brightness we share,” so we used “Yes and…” to create a story inspired by it.
Participant 1: Hey team, let’s go to the beach and bring a mirror to reflect the sunlight to others
Participant 2: Yes and… when it gets dark let’s have a bonfire to keep us warm
Participant 3: Yes and… Bring chocolate and marshmallows to make s’mores
Participant 4: Yes and… Let’s send food delivery to those who weren’t able to join us in person
Participant 5: Yes and… Have a shared playlist so we can all dance together to the same songs
In comparison to a similar exercise of word association we used on the first Freddy Berry Jam, which is great for fast-paced brainstorming, the ‘yes and…’ exercise accomplished that and added the element of valuing different ideas and team building, as the goal with this is to rescue something you find valuable in the previous person’s idea and move it forward.
The ‘yes and…’ exercise used at the very beginning of the Jam helped us carry the mindset of building on each others’ ideas forward throughout the three Jam day sessions. This helped the participants collaborate on the challenge ideation, solution ideation and prototyping exercises. It also helped the facilitation team refer back to the theme ‘Brightness we share’ and use it as the connecting thread between the three team’s prototypes.
In the solution design phase, we extended the warm-up into a template to help participants come up with as many ideas as possible, including wild and unconventional ideas, and then build on each others’ ideas in a ‘yes and…’ fashion.
To demonstrate, we used an example based on our co-facilitator Amanda’s son Rio. Rio’s challenge was to maximize his snack intake.
Based on this problem statement, we individually ideated some solutions for Rio’s problem and then switched to build on each others’ ideas. For example, to solve Rio’s challenge of maximizing his snack intake, Amanda came up with the idea of keeping the fridge open all day. Building on that idea, Tiziana added ‘yes and…’ have a mini fridge in Rio’s room.
On Day 2, Team Empa-tea working on the challenge of “bringing nature to you and bringing you to nature” used this ‘yes and…’ exercise to come up with different ideas that built on each other.
On Day 3, Team Empa-tea brought these ideas forward and created the prototype “The Sharing Shed”, a place for people to come together and transfer knowledge about indoor gardening, outdoor gardening and the benefits of getting your hands dirty. The Shed also works as a resource for all things plants; farming, forests, gardens, design, etc. All are welcome to the Sharing Shed and are encouraged to bring their own resources to swap and trade with the community.
We recommend choosing exercises that put in practice mindsets that can be carried through the entirety of the session. In this way, this exercise also helped the facilitators carry the theme “Brightness we share” throughout the 3 days in an organic way by having a light example to draw on and build on.
Hosting tip 3/3: Be mindful of ethics
As Human-Centered Design practitioners we are aware of the power design tools and methods have. The Jam is an excellent way to try new things and learn, because it’s all about having fun. However, after hosting our first Freddy Berry Jam, we noticed that although the Jam is meant to be a fun space, participants are keen to tackle complex problems.
During the Jam, we equip people with design tools and methods to explore these challenges, and as facilitators we have to be mindful that these tools and methods have the potential to do harm if ethical implications are not taught and considered. It is our responsibility to provide guidance, context and resources to make this experience as safe and ethically sound as possible for all those involved.
For this reason, we frame Freddy Berry Jam as a taster, an introduction, or a Service Design 101. We’re excited to share design mindsets and tools, and for participants to apply them in a sandbox environment where they can rely on experienced service designers for guidance, as well as have access to a repository of resources to learn more. We highly encourage participants to learn more before starting to apply these tools and methods outside of the sandbox and in their professional or personal lives.
For example, if you interview a person with the aim to learn more about their level of satisfaction at their place of employment, you should have in consideration:
- Voluntary participation: Can they abstain from participating without repercussions? Can they say no?
- Power dynamics: By participating in this interview are you putting the participant at risk in any way, for example losing their job for expressing dissatisfaction with their employer?
- Trauma-informed: The nature of the conversation and if it’s a delicate theme or potentially re-traumatizing if they share an event
We encourage facilitators to incorporate these ethical considerations in their sessions. After all, we are designing in the real world and in the process of learning, we might unintentionally harm those we are trying to support.
How might we make it peachy next time?
Freddy Berry Jam 2022 was a great learning experience for us as hosts and facilitators.
Creating a sense of community and togetherness can be challenging in an online environment, but it can be aided by visual elements and spaces like the main and team boards in Miro.
We learned that selecting exercises that develop mindsets as well as outcomes are great for multi-day design sessions: participants have a frame of reference and can organically build on from a previous exercise. In this Jam, this allowed participants to also build on each other’s ideas, practice letting go of what’s not needed or desired and keeping what’s valuable and figuring out how to move it forward, although it might change what was the initial concept.
We’re excited to have a growing community of designers who are passionate about complex challenges. We are mindful of our role as hosts and facilitators and most importantly of our responsibility as designers teaching tools and methods. For this second version of Freddy Berry Jam we included ethical briefings and ‘ethical consideration’ visual cues throughout the event’s activities.
A discussion we’ve had since the first Freddy Berry Jam is the pros and cons of having a designer coach embedded in each team. The pros are that facilitators can rely on the design coaches to provide clarification to exercises and tend team dynamics to make sure that everyone’s participation or creative styles are included and welcomed. On the other hand, allowing participants to find their own way as a team creates a feeling of camaraderie and ownership of the solution or prototype developed throughout the Jam.
To help with the team dynamics, we created within the first day team check-in a team agreement exercise, where each team answered the following questions: How will you ensure equal sharing of air time? And how will you make decisions? We began the third day bringing each team back to their agreement and revising what was working well, what wasn’t and how they wanted to tweak their team dynamics before jumping into more prototyping.
Before we part ways, don’t forget!
- As always, bake in opportunities for feedback so you can learn and grow each year that you host.
- Remember to balance your desire to be radically inclusive of late joiners and drop ins with the energy it takes to form a team and the commitment a Jam demands from participants by setting clear expectations from the start.
- Zoom fatigue is real! Host your participants and yourselves to tend to self care with water, snacks, screen breaks and stretches.
That’s all folks! We hope you found this useful. If you’d like to suggest any ideas or ways to improve Freddy Berry Jam, we’re more than happy to have a chat, so don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re a friendly bunch! Badum ching… get it… a friendly bunch? A bunch of berries? Never mind…
To find out more about Global Jams, you can check out the website: http://globaljams.org/