Once a year for the last two years, cities from all over the world have organized their own local rendition edition of the Global Service Jam. What is the Global Service Jam? In each city, participants have 48 hours over a weekend to design service concepts inspired by one global theme that is revealed at the beginning of the weekend. It’s a great way to spread awareness and knowledge of the consistently growing fields of service design and customer experience, as well as give participants an opportunity to meet people with different perspectives and skill sets, and work with them to create something of their own. The Global Service Jam is a non-profit global volunteer activity initiated by Markus Hormess and Adam Lawrence of Work•Play•Experience and organized by service design enthusiasts.
Service design is a term that has become fairly popular these past few years, although, in the eyes of many, it is not yet an easily defined concept. For many years, it was associated with marketing in the sense that a service was offered as an added value when purchasing a physical product. Today, service design is acknowledged as a self-standing profession, where we apply a set of design principles and methodologies to create an experience that best satisfies a real human need and adapts to people’s actual lifestyles.
My experience with the Global Service Jam began not long after I started working at Claro Partners, when the firm volunteered to host the first edition of Barcelona’s Global Service Jam. Since then, we have organized two more Jams and I have attended one JamJam in Nuremberg, a weekend designated specifically for organizers to share and strengthen the Jam concept. These have not only been excellent experiences for me and built a better Global Jam, but, in my perspective, it has been advantageous for Claro Partners, as well, by providing junior staff the opportunity to gain experience in workshop facilitation and planning. As well as offering a way for the company stay in touch with company our alumni and get to know potential new employees, and we also get to work directly with participating Jammers to help them further develop their ideas into new business concepts and potential start-ups.
Having attended a JamJam, I was able to see how other cities approached the Global Service Jam. I found it quite interesting to see that, although the general idea was the same, there seemed to be notable differences in the approach across locations. Some Jams were simply interested in hosting a weekend of fun activities that introduced service design methodologies, while others were more concerned with structuring the process and focusing on the final outcomes. Needless to say, both approaches held have their merits, but definitely exhibited two very different aspects of what the Jam experience can be.
At Claro, it was our impression that, in 2011, although the Barcelona Jammers enjoyed a weekend of meeting new people, brainstorming, and prototyping, they lacked a sense of purpose. So, for our 2012 Jam, we wanted to try something different that would really motivate our participants; therefore, we decided to organize a contest. We established guidelines and deliverables that were introduced to the teams at the beginning of the Jam and prearranged a group of professionals to serve as the judging panel. The winning team would receive further mentorship from Claro Partners and free access to another event in Barcelona called Mercat d’Idees, where finalists would get to present their new business concepts to potential investors. One group, Meal Is Ready, a Jam winner, went on to present at the Mercat d’Idees, having been selected out of 180 applicants, and is currently looking to launch their concept to market. Meal Is Ready is a value exchange network that matches people who like to eat good food and people who like to cook. They promote meeting people, sharing, and a way to make some extra money around home-cooked meals. We aspire to continue building on our past experiences in 2012, each time becoming more involved in the growth of concepts that develop from the Global Service Jam.
I’d say seeing new ideas emerge in one weekend from a group of strangers brought together by a shared interest is one of the most exciting aspects of a Jam. Of course, there are stressful moments: when teams hit a brick wall, motivation drops, lack of sleep and hours of work pile on, but they always seem to make it through due to their own perseverance, guidance from guest mentors, and support from the hosting team.
Jams have truly created a community; it is not just different cities hosting the same event, nor a group of strangers working for a weekend. People from all over the world are drawn together by a shared interest — inspiring others to think differently, transferring knowledge, and developing unexpected solutions.
I really encourage you to find out how you can participate in the next Jam in the spring of 2013.