The people with whom I organised jams in Berlin: Katrin Dribbisch, Martin Jordan, Olga Scupin (and myself).

The Global Service Jams have changed my life

On March 10, 2011 I took part in the first Global Service Jam. This was 7 years ago and has had a severe impact on my life. Seven is a magic number so I thought I’d share the seven most important changes the Jams have caused in my life.

The jams were the birthplace of Service Design Berlin

Through organising the first Service Jam in Berlin I met Martin Jordan and Olga Scupin. Together with them and Katrin Dribbisch we founded Service Design Berlin — a knowledge sharing initiative in the field of service design. Since 2011 we have organised more than 30 service-design-related events, published articles, spoke at conferences and went on service design learning trips across Europe. Without the jams, there would be no Service Design Berlin.

The founding team of Service Design Berlin in 2013

I met some of my best friends at a jam

A jam is a very intense experience. The people I met there often became close friends later on. Maybe it’s because we spent a short and intense time together. Maybe it’s because a jam attracts people with a similar mindset. Or maybe it was just luck. Whatever it was, some of my best friends nowadays are people I met at or through a service jam. These friends know my children better than my high school friends do. This year, I will even be the best man of one of my closest friends whom I met at a jam. The first person I think of when writing Christmas cards is always a very special friend whom I met at the first Service Jam.

Cycling back from service design drinks with Mauro Rego. I met him at a service jam and will be his best man this year.

The jams served as a professional playground

The jams had a huge impact early in my career. They allowed me to experiment in a safe environment and I tried out many tools and methods during jams. I grew comfortable in using them and would later apply these methods in client projects. I also developed a playful style of facilitating workshops and projects through the jams. Nowadays, facilitation is one of my key skills as a service designer (and the diamond dance one of my favourite warmups with clients).

The informal atmosphere at the jams encouraged me to facilitate in a playful way.

My current career is heavily influenced by the jams

As a result of the people I met through and the activities of Service Design Berlin, Olga Scupin and I founded Fuxblau — a service innovation company that helps companies to translate user needs into business models. Since 2013 we make a living from Fuxblau and now have 4 employees. Without the jams I would not know Olga and thus there would be no Fuxblau. Of course the jams are not the reason for the success of the company, but they were the starting point for the whole endeavour.

There are six people at Fuxblau right now. I am proud of what we have achieved and it all started with my co-founder whom I met at a jam.

My professional network grew

Through the jams I met service designers and innovators from all over the globe. Many of them were at the beginning of their careers in 2011. By now, they have advanced but the intimate relationships last. Some of the first big projects we acquired with Fuxblau were results of professional contacts that we made at a Service Jam. But I also know many service design professionals through the jams whom I can contact if I need support or have questions and am stuck with a professional challenge.

A jam was often the first touchpoint that I had with people who are now an essential part of my professional network.

I discovered unknown skills

I always thought of myself as a designer. But to make our jams happen we ended up handling event logistics, focusing on a great participant experience, inviting speakers, acquiring sponsors and keeping an eye on finances. At some point we realised that (as a side project) we had become professional event organisers. In 2013 we used these new skills to create something new: We organised the first ever Service Experience Camp. It is one of the largest Service Design Events in Europe nowadays and will host 250 international participants again this year.

The ‘Service Experience Camp’ is one of Europe’s largest service design events by now. It wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t learned how to organise events like the Service Jams.

Last but not least — Serendipity

There are a million ways how a jam can impact your life. Many of them cannot be foreseen. My wife, for example, did a research trip to Sydney while she was working on her PhD. She was going to stay for several weeks and desperately needed a place to stay. It was at the Sydney Service Jam where she met her roommates. She moved in with them 3 days after the jam.

Participating in and organising several Service Jams have affected my life in so many ways. The next Global Service Jam will take place on March 9–11, 2018. If you haven’t done it yet, make sure you register for one. They literally take place all over the globe that weekend.

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