Last week I participated in the only UK instance of the Global GovJam. The group I was in made a prototype “Bridge of Fear” to help people come to a better understanding of their own fears. More on that anon. Since this is the first time I’ve attended a service design jam I wanted to share some of my impressions and thoughts, in no particular order.

  1. Jams reward teamwork over awesomeness.
  2. People love to talk and give their opinions. Jamming, however, requires we curtail that habit and build a model of some kind of something instead. It took me 44 of the 48 hours on offer to arrive at this understanding. The last 4 hours were very productive.
  3. Having fun is a serious business. Our facilitators were very skilled at knowing when and how to intervene.
  4. It was tiring. Next time I will not get up, do 1hr college coursework, then go to the office and spend 1.5hrs processing email before finally going to the jam. It needs your full attention and high levels of energy.
  5. We produced a number of artifacts and I think they vary in their value. Some are going to be useful if/when we take the idea to the next level of production. Others are just shiny ways to show off the idea. Unless (most probably) I’m missing the point again.
  6. There were some similarities with the Launch48 weekend I attended earlier this year, as well as Hackathons. I’m wondering if a combination of the three could get a product actually out in the market in, say, 144 hrs. It would be grossly awesome.
  7. I tend to work independently. This is a problem for me and I got grumpy at my team mates quite quickly when I didn’t get my way. I’ll need to do something about that if I want to work in any kind of team again.
  8. It was great fun and I learned a lot about myself.
  9. Will our Bridge of Fear idea take off? Not in its current form. But that’s ok.
  10. I now want to seek out more jams and participate in them until I get good at it.

My friends Carl Haggerty and Lucy Knight have also both blogged about the experience. They turned their blog posts around faster which means they win.