How to facilitate a successful Circular Economy Jam event?

Jam

“As a facilitator, a lot of the success of the Jam relies on your shoulders. Not just helping the team deliver a good, validated concept, but their experience along the way.”
Jesse Grimes – Service designer & Jam’s special guest from Amsterdam

The quotation by Jesse Grimes goes straight to the point. The success of the Jam event is depending on the facilitation. Service Innovation and Design students in Laurea had a chance to facilitate in Circular Economy Jam 2019. The Jam was a two-day event and the purpose of the Jam was to discover new possibilities, share insights, and develop new circular economy solutions around university operations and campus life in Laurea.

How well the facilitation of the Jam went depended a lot how well the facilitators were prepared. I couldn´t participate to the Jam as a facilitator but I was preparing and helping my facilitation partner for the Jam. This blog post is about how to prepare for the Jam and that way facilitate a successful Jam event.

Introduction to the topic

The Circular Economy Jam was divided in seven different topics around circular economy challenges. Each challenge got two facilitators. My facilitation partner and I chose the challenge: “How to improve the efficient use of products or resources through Collaborative Consumption and Sharing Platforms?

Firstly we had to get to know the topic better. We started gathering information and reading several articles regarding collaborative consumption and sharing platforms. We learned especially millennials no longer want to own stuff and value experiences over owning things. In sharing economy and collaborative consumption individuals or organizations share resources like products, services, time or skill via a digital platform. In addition to digital platform sharing economy requires the culture of trust.

Part of the information search we started thinking about the research questions that are related to the topic: What can be shared? How to motivate owners and seekers? How to gain the trust among the users? What are the risks and how to minimize threats? These questions and articles we read helped us to understand the topic better.

Time-keeping is the challenge

When we were familiar with the topic we started planning the Jam structure. At first we realized the biggest challenge will be the time-keeping. From the experience we knew it can be difficult to stop the team during an activity when they feel they are not ready yet.

If one team is delayed, it may cause timing problems for all the other teams too. That´s why the most important task of the facilitator is to ensure that the team will achieve the goals of tasks in time. Facilitator should improvise during the Jam and friendly guide the team to the next step and also communicate that things don’t have to be perfectly complete.

Designing the Jam structure

When we were familiar with the topic and aware of the challenges with the timing we started planning the Jam based on the Design Thinking structure. We planned what tools and methods the team would use and how much time each phase and step would take.

The base for the successful Jam is that the facilitators and participants get to know each other. When everyone know and trust each other it is easier to create honest and safe environment to be creative and fail.

The plan for the first day:

  • #1 Framing insights phase was planned to consist of creating research questions around the problem, doing a short field research, gathering the findings into key insights and creating a customer journey map and personas. In our opinion it is easier to search for pain points and opportunities from the customer journey map and then translate the pains into ‘How might we…?’ questions.
  • #2 Ideation & concepting phase was planned to start with the `Three Brain Warm-Up` exercise. We thought it could be hard to be creative without an exercise, so the idea of the warm-up activity is to help the team get into creative mode. Next we planned to run a Crazy 8 exercise for quick divergent thinking as part of the ideation. Crazy Eight works great in the early stages of the ideation process to come up with a lot of different ideas very quickly. At the end of the day the team votes for the best idea.

The plan for the second day:

  • #3 Prototyping phase was planned to start with the discussion around the best idea and the team selects one concept to be prototyped. Next they create a scope of the prototype and a success criterium for testing. Eventually the team build, test and improve the prototype.
  • #4 Test & Feedback phase was planned to be the last part of the Jam and the team prepare a final concrete concept based on the prototype. Finally all the teams present the concepts for everyone.

 

design thinking
The Circular Economy Jam structure based on Design Thinking.

Trusting the plan leads to a success

Since I couldn´t participate to the Jam I don’t have own experiences how well our plan  worked for the Jam. According to my facilitation partner the Jam day was busy and all the things didn´t go as planned. This didn´t matter – the Jam was successful since we had a solid and adjustable plan on which she trusted and she let herself and the team have fun, be creative and open-minded!

Written by: Marianne Kuokkanen

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