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What's a Jam?

One special weekend around the beginning of March, people interested in service and customer experience will meet at locations all over the globe.

They will be designers, students, academics, business people, unemployed people, customers, mums, kids and grand-dads.
In a spirit of experimentation, innovation, co-operation and friendly competition, teams will have less than 48 hours to develop and prototype completely new services inspired by a shared theme.  At the end of the weekend, their collection of brand new services will be published to the world.

What a Jam is...

Imagine a Jam session in music. You come together, bringing your instruments, your skills, your open mind.  Someone sets up a theme, and you start to Jam around it. You don't overanalyse it, you don't discuss it to death, you Jam. You bounce your ideas off other people, and play around with what comes back. Together, you build something which none of you could have built alone. And at the same time, you are learning new ideas, discovering more about how you work and whom you best work with, sharpening your skills, and having a great time. And who knows, maybe there are one or two ideas there which might make it to the next album. Or maybe you Jammed so well, you decide to form a band...

The Global Service Jam works in just the same way. But it's not music you are Jamming - it's insights and ideas. You'll be working with people you might never have met before, bouncing insights and ideas off one another and building on what bounces back. And it's not just talking - you are here to build a functioning prototype and plan of action which you or somebody else might want to develop further. Can you prototype and plan in a way that someone could push the process of exploration further, knowing what resources they would need, what they should do, and who they should talk to?  That's the challenge of the Jam.

What a Jam isn't... 

We love conferences. But a Jam isn't one of those. You are not here to lecture, or to listen, or just talk (though some local Jams might include some theory input). You are here to work together, to prototpe and build something which already on the way to becoming real.

We love networking groups and "design drinks". But a Jam isn't one of those. You're not here to show off your skills, to chat about what's happening in your field (although those things might happen). You'll be making contacts and sharing knowledge in the best possible way - by actually working through ideas, plans and building together.

We love discussion groups, barcamps and unconferences . But a Jam isn't one of those. Although the Jam might be free form, there is a clear goal for the weekend - functioning prototypes which have the potential to become real, and which will be published to the world at the end of the weekend.

We love start-up events. But a Jam isn't one of those. A Jam is at the beginning of an innovation cycle, and you will working with strangers. You might not want to start a business with them on Monday morning, your prototype might not even be viable yet - but that's OK! A thriving start-up is a possible outcome of a Jam, but it's certainly not the goal. Put another way, a musician does not go to a Jam to record an album - that's what a studio is for.



JAM TIMETABLE - a global beat

Multiple locations, worldwide, jamming to the same beat:

Friday* usually at about 5 pm local time

Jam participants ("Jammers"), Hosts and often Mentors come together at locations all over the world, which have been prepared by the Hosts. (See footnote 1).


Friday*, not before 6.30 pm local time

The Secret Theme for the Jam is presented (see footnote 2).  Discussion in informal groups.  Dinner is a good idea.


Friday*, at about 8pm local time

The local Jam comes together for the pitching session.  Anyone can present their basic idea, groups form, and participants join the group that interests them (see note 1).


Friday*, about 9pm local time; until Sunday*, exactly 3pm local time

The groups work independently, supported by Mentors and Specialist Providers in some locations.  Research or observations are performed virtually, or through short street research. The teams develop their service design and prototype it using whatever methods they choose. Sleep is optional, but recommended.

All weekend, teams are uploading their progress, successes and failures on a shared global website.

Local Jams are in contact globally through social media, wormholes, carrier pigeons or whatever else we set up. Share, exchange, inspire. But remember - it is deeply Cheesy and Uncool to communicate the themes to teams to the West of you. For a level playing field, themes are announced at LOCAL time...


Sunday*, before exactly 3pm local time

The teams finish uploading documentation of a functioning prototype (see footnote 3).  This will usually include many things, like a film of human interaction, photos of a mock-up, a dummy website, a business plan, budget, prototype contracts, staff trainign books and anything else that provides a permanent, publishable record of their prototype and work. These are uploaded and published for the world under Creative Commons licensing.

After publishing, we suggest that the teams present their results to the other local teams.  Perhaps there could be some symbolic prizes...

After that, teams can sit back, kick back, enjoy a well-earned beverage and browse through the global results. Or they can get busy supporting teams further to the west...



Timing footnotes:

* NOTE: This description assumes a Friday to Sunday Jam, which is the commonest format and fits the weekend of most countries. If your country has a different weekend, you are welcome to Jam from Wednesday to Friday, Thursday to Saturday, or whatever fits. Talk to us - we will make it work! :)

Footnote 1. This time is a suggestion. You can move this time as you like.

Footnote 2. This is the EARLIEST allowed time.  You can do this later if you like, but NOT earlier.

Footnote 3. This the latest possible time for all Jams.