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).
Legal design is a new hot topic in service design domain globally – and also in Finland. Dottir, a law firm, and Hellon, a service design firm, organized the first ever Legal Design Summit in Finland on 16.11. at the University of Helsinki.
In the opening speech it was mentioned that legal design is not only important for companies who constantly seek competitive advantages – it is also a growing interest of the public sector. From the Finnish ministries, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is a pioneer in the field of legal design; in a current law-making process, there are not only jurists in the group but also other experts – and also one service designer!
Legal Design simply means that a legal writings (a law text, contract etc). are formulated and designed so that it is easy to understand. Legal design is both information design and communication design.
Hackathons – modern versions of workshops – are now popular also in the public sector. These events follow the service design principles; experts from various fields, customers, entrepreneurs and members of other interest groups gather together for a day or two, form teams, discuss, ideate and develop various solutions for a certain wide and complex subject matter.
Hack the Budget was held on 31.10.2016 at Design Factory, organized by the Ministry of Finance of Finland in cooperation with Open Knowledge Finland and Rapid Action Group. The aim of the event was to explore new approaches to government’s budget data and explore how it could be made more understandable and usable for relevant stakeholders. For example, could the budget data be visualized somehow so that it would be easier for the citizens to piece together where their taxes go? Or how the budget data could be utilized when evaluation of social impact is of interest? The state budget is especially interesting when the state has a monetary deficiency and an aging population – citizens may ask where their tax money go, now and in future.
Hackathons and Jams – what is the difference between them?
Hackathons focus on solutions. The organizers have described the subject matter and the problem which can be wide and complex – and new, innovative solutions are required. Therefore it is only good that the teams consist of experts from various fields. It is also good if potential product or service providers and customers join in. In the end of the day (or two days) the teams present various solutions for the problem described.
I wrote in my earlier blog that innovation processes take time. If you want to develop a really innovative – and a radical – new service, you need time. According to FORTH innovation method an average time for an innovation development process is 16-20 weeks. http://www.toolshero.com/forth-innovation-method/
However, definition of innovation is tricky. This we learned during the Design Thinking course at Laurea University of Applied Sciences. Our lecturer showed us pictures of products and asked us to tell if they were innovations or not. Some pictures got equal amount of “yes” and “no” votes. A very common definition is that an innovation is a new product, process, service or an invention. But, an innovation can also be something that is already been used somewhere for some time; if it is a new process, a new way of doing something for a specific target group, then it can be an innovation for that specific group!
So the difference between an innovation and a new service or a product is small. And marketers take a full advantage of this and call almost every new product or a service an innovation.
As stated earlier, innovation processes take time – and so does the traditional product or service development processes. There is however a faster way to create new products and services as we learned in “New Service Development and Innovative Business Models” course at Laurea. That is called the Lean method.
- Lean canvas.
The Lean method has its origins in the 90s and in Toyota’s manufacturing system called “Lean manufacturing”. The word “Lean” suggest that elements that do not create value should be decreased or eliminated in the business process.
Instead of traditional business plans the Lean method highlights making hypothesis -> summarizing the hypothesis in a business model canvas -> creating a minimum viable product -> asking feedback from the customers -> failing fast -> starting the development cycle all over again. In addition to the business model canvas, a particular lean canvas was developed.
An example of public sector and design approach.
“I want to develop and improve public services” was my answer to the question “What are your personal objectives to study Service Innovation and Design”. “Good luck” said the teacher and her voice was full of cheer and encouragement – I think. Although the quality of public services is relatively good in Finland there is always room for improvement.
It was my day #1 at Laurea University of Applied Sciences in September 2014 in Finland. The Master’s Degree Program in Service Innovation and Design (alongside a full-time job) was about to start. Twenty-six students from all over the world, full of energy and enthusiasm, were there to learn about customer focused service development and innovations.
On day #2 we started our first course “Design Thinking”. So my aim was to learn how to develop and improve public services and therefore I needed to learn the basics first; Design Thinking (DT) models and DT tools.
In our course we learned that there are several DT models. Tschimmel, Katja (2012, 6-10) introduces five different models. In our course we had a chance to learn more about one DT model created by Gijs van Wulfen: the FORTH innovation method.