For the first time ever, Dundee was home to Global Service Jam which was hosted by University of Dundee in Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, sponsored by Taylor Haig, Leadership Development and Service Design Company and organised by Think Marmalade – a group of service design fanatics which I am extremely proud to be part of.
So what is Jam? What makes it Global? And what do services have to do with it?
A jam session happens when a group of musicians get together to practice and create music. It is free flowing and once the violinist creates a tune, the pianist will try to capture it (not copy!) and then the guitarist will add a bit at the end that just pulls it all together and makes it sound complete.
Jamming is learning, creating together and building on your partners’ ideas to end up with something unique and of value, not just to the group but also to the wider audience.
Jamming happens free style and it is a dynamic process but it has to be fuelled with just the right kind of petrol – Creative Thinking.
Jamming Globally means that people from all other the planet are all creating at the same time. It is like suddenly they all breath the same creative air that connects them and helps them grow. It would not be Global if they didn’t share their experiences both visually and verbally in many different languages but mostly the tongue of international support and friendship.
So they do just that, non-stop, Jammers Communicate through Twitter (#DundeeGSJ #GJS13 #Thisiswhywejam ), Skype, FaceTime, Planet Jam and Base Camp (the last two are just special places jammers register and upload the results of their collaborative work). It gets busy as there were 120 Jams all over the world and they have 3000 Jammers scratching their heads and breaking their pencils all at the same time.
Often the internet is so overwhelmed by Jam News that many platforms of communication just can’t cope and refuse to work – this is where Jammers have to get even more creative to overcome those minor difficulties. An example of that happened here in Dundee, when we were talking to our Jam Friends from Mumbai in India: Skype refused to let us hear each other so we used very basic sign langue (yes, thumbs up and smiles) and we wrote our thoughts on post-it notes. It just added to the fun as we united to overcome this technology let down.
Why do we jam about services?
Because services are all around us – they really are everywhere. Starting from when you get that cup of coffee in morning (a coffee shop provides this service), to when you take your bus and train to get to work, ending with the local supermarket and their home delivery service. Don’t forget the hairdressers, your school, the post office and the petrol station. I really could go on like that for a while so I am going to stop here.
We live in a world run by services and it is in our own best interest that we start noticing those services. We are dipping in and out of places that provide services constantly – I am not just talking about the physical places like a coffee shop but also the on-line/virtual services like the service that helps you get connected to your friends, your online banking and the place you can order your cinema tickets from.
The service sector is constantly growing as we move on from a product based economy into an economy which generates most profits through services. Sounds positive? Yes, it is but there are still far too many services that are just not good enough or don’t even exist. There is still a big empty room that is just waiting to be filled up with a new useful, effective and efficient service.
Good and bad services change our world and that is why the aim of the Global Service Jam is to Change the World in 48 hours. Why only 48 hours – because this is how long we jam for – from Friday night, all day Saturday, until Sunday afternoon (don’t worry we sometimes stop to eat and sleep a little bit too).
One may think – Changing the World in 48 hours seems like quite a task, in other words: unrealistic, unachievable and slightly over-confident. Let me tell you now that the Jams are not about that. Jams change our mindsets and they change our thinking which often is the first step to changing our World and the way the see and interact with it.
We do change the world, we change our own world and if enough people do that and do it well, one day we will all see the difference.
Sometime the services that we create during the Jams change the world. Or to put it in a perspective, they have the power to change our local communities. Jamming is often Glocal. Think Globally but act Locally. Many of the services we prototype are for the local communities, they are specific to the jammers who worked on them, we are meaningful to them as these are the problems they try to tackle daily.
So Jammers from India try to develop the new housing solutions for their poorest communities (http://planet.globalservicejam.org/gsj13/projects) and jammers from Dundee in Scotland design a service for their own poorest communities who have a problem with healthy eating, it’s called The Hive.
We are jamming about what matters to us because that is our reality. Groups form on the bases of interests so people who are interested in services that bring communities together jam together, likewise people who are passionate about the outdoor and growing your own food will form a team and jam together.
To add to this excitement there is a secret theme that all jammers start their brainstorming from, which is reviled at the start of each Jam. It is a big secret until Saturday evening, as Jamming Globally means that by the time our American Jammers find out the theme the Aussie Jammers already jammed about it for a good few hours. Nobody wants to spoil this international fun though so we keep the theme on the low.
This year’s theme ‘Grow>‘ has inspired a number of hugely diverse projects and by the end of the jam most participants would admit that their skills ‘Grew’ during this intensively collaborative process.
My personal experience as an organiser and Jammer of past Jams is an extremely positive one. I feel so happy to have been part of the organiser’s groups Think Marmalade, it gave me a brand new experience of what is means organising a 3 day event for about 70 people.
As much hard work as that is, it is also twice as much fun, watching the jam participants grow together, create meaningful ideas and make wonderfully unique friendships.
Dundee truly is a Jamming city as we were the 8th Biggest Jam in the whole world. And let me tell you that really means something considering this only was our 1st attempt of organising a Jam!
Getting the title of 8th biggest Jam in the World makes us very happy indeed, but it is being the Jam that started a new creative culture and a trendy tradition of Dundee Jams of the Future matters most to us.
See you next year, roll on March 2014.