Inspired by music jam sessions the Global Service Jam was launched in 2011 in over 50 cities fathered by Markus Edgar Hormeß and Adam StJohn Lawrence of WorkPlayExperience in Nürnberg.
"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."
With almost 3000 participants in over 120 cities in 2013 the Global Service Jam is the biggest Service Design event worldwide. From 1 March to 3 March 84000 person-hours were invested into more than 500 projects. Last year the jams closest to Freiburg in Geneva, Luxemburg or Nürnberg were all around four hours away so I decided to host a Service Design Jam in Freiburg this year for the first time.
When they heard about the event, hKDM offered to make their rooms available for the jam. MyMüsli sponsored some of their organic muesli2go and Green Cup Coffee some of their gourmet coffee beans. Schwarzwaldmilch added milk, joghurt and "Schoki" to the jam breakfast and Stefan's Käsekuchen sweetened the afternoon with the best cheesecake in the world. Following the article in the Badische Zeitung, AYO GmbH grenzüberschreitende Dienstleistungsfirma offered their support and paid for the beverages. Thanks to all sponsors for this great support!
Right after the Design Thinking hands-on workshop we started the Service Design Jam with the opening video made in Helsinki and Rückersbach with help from other jams around the world. A well kept secret until the sun goes down over Santa Monica boulevard (the timezone where the jammers start last) the video also revealed the shared theme for this year's jam: grow^.
Over some regional food we discussed our associations with the term grow but also with stagnation and shrinking. We quickly settled on "Sharing is the new owning" as our Freiburg sub-theme in line with shareconomy as theme of this year's computer expo CeBIT that currently takes place in Hannover. Because part of the group was interested in further exploring education and personal growth and another part of the group more in the question of a mature economy that does not grow further we split the group in half and brainstormed on a concrete problem to work on for the next 48 hours.
I personally loved the theme because it left so much room for interpretation from growing food, over growing relationships to growing up and aging. The ^ had lead to different interpretations around the world such as "grow up", "grow happy" or "grow to the power of."
The group around the topic of a mature economy started off Saturday morning by discussing whether and under which circumstances a company can decide not to grow further. Quickly they settled on local businesses and specifically independent clothing stores as their target group. In the early afternoon they went to talk to local shop owners and shoppers to find out about their needs and pain points.
Interviews revealed that e-commerce has become a real threat to shop owners because many clients try clothes offline and then buy online for lower prices and a larger variety. This led to the idea of offering a range of services to clothing boutiques to make clothes shopping an experience that can't be lived online. Insights and ideas were combined in a Value Proposition Canvas and a Business Model Canvas.
On Sunday the group built a large customer journey containing wireframes of their digital touchpoints that they also used to produce a short video explaining their offer.
The second group long thought about a service to teach kids to share more and to relieve parents from the burden of constantly having to buy the newest toys. On Saturday the group went out of the building to test their idea of a "Netflix for toys" where kids were given an allowance that they could use to rent toys for a certain time instead of buying them and quickly loosing interest.
Talking to people of different age groups on a playground and near a toy store however the group found out that a lot of interviewees were happy with the existing possibilities such as buying and selling toys on ebay or flea markets and that they would not want to rent toys that show clear signs of wear and tear.
In the beginning the group was set back reconsidering their idea but then looked into turning negative feedback into new opportunities. The idea arose that when kids would send along a picture, a letter or an idea for how to play toys would not as much be perceived as used but each owner would add personality to it. Kids could not only get new toys but also learn about other kids' lifes and maybe even become friends with the previous owners. Over time toys would become rather more than less valuable because their journeys would entail stories that make them special and that cannot be bought with money.
On Sunday I helped the team to produce a short video making the case for their service idea. Applying Pecha Kucha methodology we put together a story of a doll that we visualized in sketches and filmed with an iPhone in one single take finishing the video literally in the last minute.
My motivation for organizing the jam was to bring this event to the larger region of Freiburg, promote the still relatively unknown discipline of Service Design and to bring like-minded people together to learn from each other. For this to become true I invested lots of time, money and energy over the course of several months.
At first, I expected a group of around 5 to 10 participants. When the first 10 tickets were sold out and the waiting list started to fill up I looked around for a larger room to be able to accomodate more participants and for sponsors to help cover the costs. I was aware that with this kind of events, there always is a certain no-show rate and there are many good reasons for cancellation that I perfectly understand (and one person came to the wrong location on Friday - sorry about that!) but that almost 50% of registered participants canceled in the last week before the event or just did not show up really was a bit discouraging and makes planning almost impossible. In the future I would not again offer such an event for free but charge a small fee for the weekend. This would not so much be to reduce my expenses but to ensure registrations only from those who are seriously interested. While it was quite easy to get small-scale in-kind support from sponsors I would wish for more support from initiatives and local companies.
I found that with participants rather inexperienced in Service Design I had to intervene more than expected and there was still more talking than doing. Over the weekend I tried to set clearer expectations of what to do next and show more examples as inspiration. For future events but also client workshops I learned to add even more structure, set fixed time slots and ideally have a moderator for each group.
The global Basecamp for organizers is a great community but the closer the weekend approached it flooded my inbox and discussions became increasingly hard to follow with so many jam sites this year. The Global Service Jam servers did not withstand the rush of European jams registering their projects and teams all at once making it a bit of frustrating experience on Saturday. Before the event I had thought about talking to other jams on Skype at certain points during the weekend but organizing it alone I decided to concentrate on the basics in the first year. Twinning up with other cities is definitely something I would love to do next time to catch more of the global buzz of the event.
Overall, the weekend was exhausting but a great experience. It was awesome to see some people again that I got to know at various occasions last year such as Saarcamp or Startup Weekend Basel and to see people connect. The concepts developed over the weekend are certainly not complete but they do have potential and I find it always amazing what can be achieved in such short amounts of time. Awareness of Service Design has increased at least a bit not only with an article on the event published by Badische Zeitung. I would like for Freiburg to become a regular Global Service Jam site and also to organize other event formats (maybe a Barcamp or Startup Weekend one day) in the area and would love to get in touch with people who support this idea and would be willing to help.
See more pictures on Flickr.