Once upon a time in Tampere Global Service Jam

What is The Global Service Jam? It’s a global innovation burst of 48 hours. Think of a bunch of musicians starting to play together. They all have their individual instruments, but after some try and error, they will be able to reach harmonies and create a unique sound and create new music. It’s the same with innovation, having a group of motivated people with diverse backgrounds, ready to work hard together. And perhaps most importantly, as the Jam rules goes, they’re ready to have fun. This blog post focuses on the storytelling method that influenced me the most during the jam, and how it was utilised through out the service design process. The Jam event it self was an excellent example of a successful use of storytelling, as the event followed a dramatic structure from the start-up sequence to the fade out.



Tampere Global Service Jam had a great location at Finlayson factory area. No Jam is a Jam without the Emergency Rubber Chicken.


Tampere Global Service Jam

This story begins at the creative and beautiful setting of historic cotton factory in the Finlayson area in downtown Tampere, Finland. One of the old factory buildings (actually called the New Factory held a Global Service Jam event.  Tampere Jam was hosted by experts Tirri, Anna and Reetta from Kolmas Persoona, and Mikko from Solita. There were also inspiring key notes from Anne from Tarinakone and Juha from Diagonal. The idea of a jam is good and simple: get together, get inspired by the given theme, ideate, form groups, develop the service together and finally present your service prototype. We had three groups of jammers developing their ideas who designed from the same starting point totally different service prototypes. All the individual service processes used multiple and different design methods, ethnography and storytelling being common to all groups.

The results included:

So how to get all this amazing work done in such a short time? Using appropriate tools and getting inspired by the hosts, key note speakers and other jammers. Storytelling had a strong place in each and every design at Tampere Jam, during all the process. As one of our key note speaker Anna from Tarinakone told us, storytelling can be utilized not just in the final presentation of the service prototype, but along the way as well. You can find Anne’s great presentation on Slideshare.

The Power of a great Story

Stories attract and engage people, thus the method of including them in your design process is a very effective one. There’s a neurological explanation to this: our brain produces stress hormones when we get excited and “feel-good” hormone when we see adorable characters in the story. A happy ending of a story releases dopamine, leaving the listener to feel more optimistic. A mixture of these three elements produces a good story and gets your audience’s attention.

The above video is a good example of this, it grabs your attention right away and builds up the story surprising you in the end. This kind of short emotional roller coaster ride definately keeps the customer watching, and is easily memorable. Anna from Tarinakone told us jammers to “make a feeling and a meaning” in the service story. In Tampere Service Jam context the highlight, amplyfying the jam story, meant a three course gourmet dinner from 4 vuodenaikaa, in beautifully decorated space by KAIKAI, and having the atmosphere perfected by live music of SumuPuu. What a memorable experience!


Amplifying the atmosphere: Tampere Service Jam surprised us with a romantic dinner!

The story’s length and the its sequences can vary but the general structure of an effective story remains the same. Well structured story creates meaning for the customer, and makes the service memorable experience. Storytelling can also help the designer to better understand the meaning of the service, remember details and more easily share their insights during the development phase. In the Tampere Service Jam this meant gathering customer stories by ethnographic research and developing them by going through and acting out story scenarios. Our group developed a service around interior design, gathered stories from the field included flying hammers, family crises and passionate opinions on context related TV-shows. In our service, creating a memorable customer experience was crucial and having this kind of real-life customer stories was a wonderful starting point.

..and they lived happily ever after

There’re great examples of effective storytelling used in business. One very obvious case would be advertisement. HBR Blog network recently talked about the subject by examining the dramatic structure of best Super Bowl ads. The most successful advertisements use very basic dramatic structure with a simple message. There are different kind of structures to describe dramatic structure, one of the is the Six Act Structure by Ola Olsson, a structure for a fictional film. The structure includes:

  • start-up sequence
  • presentation
  • amplifying
  • culmination of conflicts (or acceleration, heating up or clashing)
  • resolution or solution
  • fade out or vanishing

When designing a service experience, paying attention to this kind of structure can help with making the experience more memorable for the customer. To get your story flowing, think of the pace of the story and how to engage the customer throughout the story.

prototyping by storytelling

Prototyping by Storytelling: Following a dramatic structure helped during the design process. It kept the physical customer experience in mind, even developing a digital service.

Tampere Service Jam story had definitely a happy ending and an amazing positive after effect. Some of it was captured on video, our reply to New York City’s Jammer who challenged us to be happy.


Text by Teija Hakaoja

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