Last weekend, 1,500 design enthusiasts developed 500 prototypes of new services at 124 local events on 6 continents — within just 48 hours. These are the digits of the eighth Global Service Jam, a series of international grass-roots events, decentrally organized by volunteers who love Design Thinking and Service Design.
For me, it was already the eighth time taking part at the annual event — I started as a participant in 2012 and even organized Service Jams myself. This year, I had the pleasure to be part of the Jam in Berlin as a coach and to represent the Porsche Digital Lab.
Service Jam Berlin: Creativity without borders
On the weekend of March 30, about 50 freelance designers and design enthusiasts from startups, digital companies and agencies came together at Service Jam Berlin, one of the biggest events of the Global Service Jam. Each year, there is a surprise theme on which the diverse and international teams work for 48 hours. This year, it was “Blue” — a very broad topic that allowed participants to find their own interpretation and topic to which they dedicated their next two days.
How do Service Jams work?
To make the most of 48 hours, Service Jams run down in several sessions along the Double Diamond of the design thinking process. It involves scoping the challenge, understanding the users and their problems, framing it, developing ideas and, last, but not least, selecting, prototyping, and testing some of them. In each phase, participants get to know some tools and methods from Service Design and Design Thinking and gather their own experiences with design-oriented and user-centric innovation. At the event in Berlin, the Jam team also invited all participants to join their “Tool Time” sessions, in which they shared their professional experiences. For instance, Adam from IXDS, one of the main sponsors of Service Jam Berlin, explained how to apply messaging services to digitize user research.
Even though it may sound a bit like a serious learning event: At all Service Jams, the joy of being creative, ideating without the restraints of every-day working live and getting to know new people are most important. It’s all about learning something while having fun and designing services to make the world a better place.
Into the blue: Gathering more than 8 crazy ideas
The first step of every Service Jam is getting to know the people around you, forming a team out of strangers and defining the way this team would like to work. In my experience, this kick-off is very important whenever setting up a new team or starting a project. Writing down the team constellation and workstyle often helps new team members get on track.
After my team was set up, it fired out its thoughts and ideas about the “Blue” topic: What are possible “Blue” themes they would be interested in? Something concerning the oceans, the sky, the blue poison dart frog? What are user groups that might be interesting? What is the situation the users might be in? And what are their pains and gains? To understand the problem space, the team conducted street interviews. Back in the creative space, my team framed its findings as a persona, deriving a concise problem statement as a base for ideation. To generate a large amount of broad solution ideas first, the teams used the Crazy 8 method. On the evening of the first day, all teams tested their solution prototypes on an “Idea Bazar”, showing them each other to receive direct feedback.
The Give-Bag: Creating a new service in just 48 hours
On Saturday and Sunday, I accompanied “my” team on the way to find, elaborate and prototype their new service. As their coach, it was my job to offer them new tools and methods in order to structure the creative process, help with time management and make decisions more efficiently.
The team decided to develop “The Give-Bag”, a service for travelers who love to broaden their horizons, but do not know local customs and have an awareness for their ecological impact. The Give-Bag is an added-value service from your airline. For example, when booking a flight to Kenya, users can opt-in to The Give-Bag and will then get a reusable bag with cutlery. In Kenya, plastic knives and forks are very common and immensely add to the country’s (and world’s) waste problem — reusable cutlery is a first measure in reducing the plastic waste. When flying out again, travelers can simply return The Give-Bag to the airline, so that it can be used again.
The essence of Service Design: Creativity through new impulses and perspectives
Even though I attended quite a few Service Jams, it’s always a very exciting journey. For me, the essence of the Global Service Jam really is inspiration — by sharing knowledge and experiences, by getting to know new people and working in ways that differ from everyday work. At least, that is true for most of the participants — I am in the lucky position to work with Service Design and Design Thinking methods every day at Porsche Digital Lab.
As designers take on an important role in our projects, the Service Jam is a great platform for us to reach out to young design talents. At the Porsche Digital Lab, we put new technologies to the test, develop prototypes of new digital products and business models. To do this successfully, we’re working in interdisciplinary teams that consist of a product owner, a developer, a scrum master — and a designer. As it is our goal to create user-centric solutions, the importance of designers is quite obvious: They are often the ones pushing this perspective within the team.