JamJaming in Barcelona

Global Service Jams are these incredible and really fun events related to service design that are celebrated all over the globe. Twice a year, a bunch of experienced jammers and hosts meet to make them wilder, more fun and even more productive. Its the JamJam. Last time, it happened in Barcelona, on September 27th-29th. And, happily, I was there!

But, what  is a jam?

A jam is a 48 hours event that gathers people for designing and prototyping new services inspired by a shared theme in hundreds of cities simultaneously and… while they have a great time!

This video from the London Sustainability Jam shows the jam experience very accurately. Curious? Play it now!

So, what is jamming about?

Prototyping a video

Prototyping a video to explain the value of sharing

  • Doing (not talking). You complete the whole development process of concrete ideas that have the potential to become real.
  • Learning. You pick new ideas and working practices, you can try approaches you haven’t tested before in a cool safe environment and you get peer feedback.
  • Meeting people. You get to know pretty deeply —working side by side— a lot of people who share your interest in service design.
  • Sharing. You share the experience and you working methods with your team and the end results with the world.

Humm, doesn’t this sound pretty similar to a SID Laurea contact session? Indeed, but less structured and without grades or homework 😉

Which jams are there?

It's jam o'clock

It’s jam o’clock!

There are three jams per year:

  • The Global Service Jam, initiated in March 2011, which was celebrated in 130 cities in 2013.
  • The Global Sustainability Jam, initiated in October 2011, with already 70 cities announced and to be celebrated soon, in November 22nd-24th. Feel like trying it? These are the four venues in Finland:
  • The Global GovJam, prototyped in June 2012 and celebrated for the first time in 2013, in 36 cities.

Since 2011, more that 1,200 projects have been created and shared under a creative commons licence. Browse the latest here:

What is the JamJam, anyway?

It’s an internal event meant for hosts and experienced jammers from around the globe. We meet during 48 hours —what else?— in one location to create the tools and processes that will push the jam idea forward and to improve the jam experience, both for jammers and hosts.

JamJam 2013 in Barcelona

Cross cultural issues at the JamJam

Some cross-cultural issues at the JamJam…

The JamJam 2013 was led by Adam St. John Lawrence and Markus Horness from Work Play Experience, who are the initiators of the global jams and the Global Jam HQ. It was hosted by Claro Partners, the Barcelona Service Jam organisers, and held in Bau School of Design.

Apart from all other jam hosts in Barcelona, there were more than 40 participants from Austria, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovenia, other cities in Spain and United Kingdom.

Before you go on reading, check this video by Claro where you can see some of the atmosphere.

Structure of the event

Working on a new page for the website, first mini-jam

Working on a new page for the jam website during the first mini-jam

Usually jams follow a structure very similar to our first contact session in SID Laurea. That is, we use the 48 hours to develop one project per team.

The JamJam, instead, was divided into four shorter mini-jams. During each mini-jam you worked with a team on a very quick iteration of a project and presented it to the rest of the participants for feedback. After that, you were free to remain working on the same project or change team and topic.

For example, I worked on three different topics: how to extend the impact of the jam after the event, how to make tools for hosts easier to use and how to use the jam network also for professional matters.

Facilitating and documenting

A Finnish warm-up

A warm-up proposed by a Finn

Besides —and that is probably the most special about the JamJam—, each mini-jam was facilitated by a team of participants. This allowed us to see many different facilitation styles and share games for warming-up, giving feedback, or making teams and decisions.

And another much more invisible team —also of participants—, was in charge of documenting each mini-jam and presenting what had happened at the end. This allowed us to recall and reflect on what we had done, and also come up with ideas on how to document design sessions.

I was part of the documentation team of the last mini-jam. We tried to measure the level of energy at different phases of jamming and with different types of activity.

Both facilitation and documentation teams also received feedback from the rest.

Documenting 1st mini-jam

Documenting the 1st mini-jam

Documenting 3rd mini-jam

Documenting the 3rd mini-jam

Documenting 2nd mini-jam

Documenting 2nd mini-jam

Documenting 2nd mini-jam (emotions)

Documenting emotions at the 2nd mini-jam

Documenting 4th mini-jam

Documenting the 4th mini-jam

Some really cool learnings

  • Let people self-organise: this very agile approach worked really well and enriched the event so much by empowering participants and creating a space for sharing.
  • Retrospectives: constant peer feedback on projects, facilitation and documentation does not disrupt the process, but deepens the opportunity of learning from it.
  • Energising: using games for warming-up is a must and very usual, but I had never seen or used energisers at the end of the event. And it works amazingly! You’re no longer exhausted, but high and can concentrate on the great experiences you’ve just lived.
Jammimg is tiring

Jammimg is tiring

Jam tools

Jam tools


At global jams we use this hashtag to share good experiences about jamming. Here you can see four tweets related to the Barcelona JamJam.

Check #thisiswhywejam for many other experiences!

Post by Itziar Pobes, first-year SID student and Barcelona GovJam host 

6 thoughts on “JamJaming in Barcelona

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I am arranging my first jam in November (Global sustainability jam) and the definitions you are sharing here makes it very easy to understand when talking about Jams to others. Also it is extra fun to read about since my other Oslo Jammers attended the JAMJAM in Barcelona and we can transfer the magic created to our own Jam 🙂

    • Thank you for this kind comment, Caroline! I don’t want to discredit myself now, but… mostly my definitions are based on what the jam community has already developed. So, just make sure you read the Jam Handbook 😉

      Besides, the Oslo team is really amazing. I’m sure you’ll learn so much and you’ll have so much fun!

  2. Hey, Tuula, you’re right. I forgot to explain the differences between jams. But the table you’ve linked is perfect for this. Thanks for adding it!

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