Business owners and investors should take part in Jam events

This blog post discusses why I think that investors, clients, CIOs, CEOs, CBOs and other people who are responsible for service quality, organisation’s strategy or business should take part Jam events in future.

Did you recognise yourself? Great!

I thought You when I wrote this.

What is Global Service Jam?

From 27th of February to 1st of March in 2015 curios and open-minded people all-around the world met for fifth time in 95 different locations at the same weekend.

Global Service Jam is a yearly 48h event where ordinary people with different backgrounds meet together and solve ordinary problems people are facing in their daily lives. Simple as that.

But Global Service Jam is by no means the only one of its kinds. Global Sustainability Jam and Global GovJam focuses more in social responsibility issues. Watch also a video about Jams in general.

Now you may wonder “what’s in it for me in Jams”? Next, I give you several reasons why I think that you should get in.

Adopt the design process and rapid prototyping skills

One of the most interesting elements in Jams comes in the form of rapid prototyping. New service concepts are tested and evaluated numerous times at a rapid succession. This is something that rarely occurs in traditional business setting.

The design process in Jams goes like this:

  1. People quickly share their views and insights about problems worth solving
  2. They team up with other people who have passion to solve a shared problem
  3. Teams learn quickly about the true nature of the chosen problem in real-life
  4. Teams ideate how the problem could be solved
  5. The most important thing… aside the process, teams create very early plausible prototypes, test and improve them, until they have found a minimum viable, desirable and feasible solution.
  6. When time is up, audience can experience or interact each teams’ service prototype. No PowerPoints or bullet points.

All in 48 hours.

Instead of explaining here more deeply what is Design Thinking, Lean Startup Process or what is a Minimum Viable Product, I suggest you to go next Jam and live the process. Bill Moggridge from IDEO have crystallized the nature of human experiences very well: “You can’t experience the experience until you experience it”. Thus, you know then what you mean, when you find yourself explaining the previous design processes for your colleagues or clients. Also, you have a proper starting point to improve your new practical hands-on design skills.

Now you may think: How long it takes to play and test a service prototype with a user or a stakeholder?

I’d say it takes from 30 seconds to few minutes. This rapid testing with plausible users provides lots of qualitative information and insights: Where are we? Which steps should be taken next? This is stakeholder and customer-centric experience design at its best. Rapid testing and feedback is much, much more essential than designing by keeping subjective assumptions in mind without involving plausible users in the design process.

So adopt this: Focus on problem, not in solution. Validate assumptions, prototype early, test and improve.

As a Jammer, you’ll learn a practical new mindset to design seamless service experiences in stakeholder-centric way.

Adopt the culture with a fun-factor twist

Working 48h in a Jam is fast paced. Teams are serious about to solve their problem. But serious work in strict time-box does not mean that work should be rigid, tears or polishing details and designing from point A to B.

Why playfulness and fun-factor is so essential in design?

Serious work and working seriously are not the same. Design teams do have lots of fun. Work and play walk hand-in-hand. Teams act and improvise to gain the desired experience to make sure how the best plausible solution would feel. Working, playing and doing (not talking) is a key to powerful but creative work.

Designing service is like dancing. You take a step, but you don’t know where it ends. So, what you learn from problem during work and how you adopt findings is essential. Not goal itself.

But if the fun-factor and ‘improvised dancing’ is removed from the design process, it’s very likely that teams will not reach a solution that would be desirable. This means, that the solution would not deliver a positive experience and users do not want it.

If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got

-Albert Einstein

So adopt this: Service solutions will be much desirable if people have had fun during the design process.

Watch below an example role play video of testing and communicating the desired postal-packaging experience by Cardboard Box Crew in Global Service Jam Helsinki 2015. The team had real fun!

Do not steal team’s idea. The team may be willing help you.

You can watch the concept videos from Global Service Jam Helsinki 2015 Facebook page and evaluate yourself how close the pitched service prototypes could be from Minimum Viable Product and early market entry?

The thing is… Concepts created in Global Service Jam are not meant to be perfect. So, they are vulnerable and prone to get hit by a pessimist’s stone and berates like “That will never work”. But, an optimist is capable to see the beauty of an early prototype or an idea. Keep in mind that budgets in Jams are close to 0€ and time-box is just 48h.

Think about the following case example:

An idea could have been developed further and entered the market. And it could have been seen in Slush Top 4.

Yes. The Cardboard Box Crew’s service concept was developed in Global Service Jam Helsinki 2015 event. Afterwards I heard that a very similar concept reached Top 4 in Slush 2014, just few months before. So the idea was not unique. It was new to Jammers. But it could have been a pearl. And there could have been something unique in the concept’s value-proposition and it could have been developed further with You to see the market.

So my point is:

In Global Service Jam lays a huge hidden, undiscovered possibility that investors, CIOs, CBDOs and CBOs should be aware of.

So, as an investor or business owner who is in responsible to develop organisation’s service or competitive advantage, visit at least last day of Jam to see and experience the final prototypes. You may have a very positive surprise if some team have found a solution that can be evolved further to fit in Your service problem.

Get ideas for collaborative work environment

Often, organisations that host Jams are forerunners in service design. Thus, the provided facilities are well-thought as they were in Global Service Jam Helsinki 2015, hosted in Laurea University of Applied Sciences by students and volunteers.

You may found interesting practical interior design ideas how your organisation could improve co-design facilities.

Get to know with service-oriented professionals and designers

Yes. If your organisation is looking for brave, service-oriented, creative problem-solving designers and such-like people to help you to make your service more desirable, you are likely to meet the right people and designers in Jams – and better yet, see them in action instead of just having a chat.

Again, one more good reason to join a Jam.

When and how to get next Jam?

The next Jam will be Global GovJam in June 9-11 2015.

For more information about Jams here:

Antti Kytö is a concept & service designer and doing MBA in Service Innovation and Design in Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

One thought on “Business owners and investors should take part in Jam events

  1. Antti,

    Really good jam experience summary, thanks for sharing it. As a fanatic jammer I also share your opinion, more business people should be there and understand that yes we are having fun, but is so much more. It also a challenge for us, service designers and jam mentors, how can we manage business people’ s expectations and how can help them to go through during the understanding and observation phase of the project. How I experienced this is the hardest part for them because they feel that the topic is too big and we won’t go anywhere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s