Service Jams are becoming a common practice in the public sector too – or are they? How many of civil servants actually know the concept or have used the method for developing public services? At least some civil servants know the concept and some have also tested the method locally and nationally, on a small and large scale – and now also on a global scale when GovJam2017 was organized by the D9 team of the State Treasury and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment on 17.-18.5.2017 in Helsinki.
Only 48 hours to rock the public sector
GovJam2017 is a global event which started in Australia in 2012. In this event, teams around the world have “only 48 hours to rock the public sector”. Finland has taken part only once earlier – and this year Helsinki took part in two separate locations; in Viikki (open invitation) and at Espa 4 (for civil servants). Although one principal of Jams is that the participants have different backgrounds (stakeholders, customers, students etc.) the Espa 4 event was organized only for civil servants in order to learn more about Jams as a method on one hand and to get to know each other and to form a service design network among civil servants on the other hand.
I interviewed the participants and the feedback of the Jam was mainly positive. Some of them tried the method for the first time and felt that it was a fun and fresh way to design new public services – maybe the legos, plasticine and other arrangements had to do with this… but it’s true; a fun and positive attitude feeds creative thinking which again feeds development of new and innovative ideas. It is important to encourage other participants, to add new elements and to boost creative thinking. “Yes, AND…” kind of communication is recommended – and even if there were too wild ideas, the market research (teams went out to test ideas on common people at the streets) would cut them down.
The participants had some challenges to tackle the wide theme – the Australian host gave this year’s theme on a video and it was a really abstract one, only a sound of birds and traffic on the background. This was something new for some of the participants – but this is also one of the key principals of the Jams; the themes are wide and complex in nature – and that is why you need to use crowdsourcing, to tackle the problem together with others. The situation was felt fussy which caused some uncertainty – but this is also part of the game. Thus good facilitation is required; to mentor the teams, to guide them and to enable smooth processes.
Top 8 benefits of Jams for the public sector
Here is the summary of the interviews:
- Crowdsourcing; organize a Jam when you have a wide and complex problem but do not know where to start, how etc.
- Co-creation; value is co-created together with customers and other stakeholders
- New ideas and perspectives; different backgrounds of participants enable that the issue is viewed from various perspectives
- Information and insights; customers and other stakeholders tell you what works now – and in the future
- New contacts; in a Jam you get to know other people, stakeholders, customers, students etc. which can benefit your operations also in the future
- Capabilities and resources; sharing of capabilities and resources can save tax revenue
- Efficiency; ideas – testing – iterations… fast testing of ideas can save tax revenues
- Impact; all the above mentioned can lead to a greater social impact
Service Jams also link with the experiment culture highlighted in the Government Program of Finland. Here you can view some ongoing public experiments, comment on them and also add your idea for an experiment: http://www.kokeilunpaikka.fi (currently only in Finnish).