Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Global Service Jam - 2012

The weekend of Feb 26th, 2012 Thoughtworks hosted the Global Service Jam @ Bangalore,  Pune and Gurgaon. 

Being part of the organizing team at the Gurgaon event, I thought I'll share our experiences about this new and rather unique event.

What is Global Service Jam (GSJ) all about?
GSJ is a event held globally on an annual basis (actually this is just their 2nd year) which aims to build upon the concept of service design and give the participants a real world flavor of this concept. GSJ is not a conference and neither is it meant only for techies, for most of us in the IT space service tends to webservices; Service Design is much bigger and better. 

What is Service Design?
Service Design (my borrowed perspective) is a concept that guides and facilitates the management of resources in such a manner that provides a unique and satisfying experience to the consumers of a service. View the better explanation.

What or who is the driving force behind GSJ?
GSJ is run and promoted as a non-profit volunteer activity. The parent organization has virtually no staff and budget. They are just driven to spread the message and get your creative juices flowing.

Ok!!!...but what is this jam sham business???
Well to put this simply you get a group of motivated people with diverse backgrounds and divide them into teams, then you give them a (abstract) theme and 48 hours to brainstorm and prototype a real-life service around the theme. Jammers (aka. participants) are expected to experiment, innovate and cooperate all along the way.

Who would be interested in something like that??
26 in Gurgaon, 80 odd in Bangalore, and 30 odd in Pune. They were furniture designers, Phd scholars, design specialists, product managers, students and even retired individuals. Sadly Thoughtworkers (atleast from Gurgaon) were in short attendance.

Hmmm.. In that case I bet the prizes must have been really Exciting!!
Yes, if you think that interacting with people from different spheres of life to imagine and create innovative solutions and expanding your mental capabilities is worth anything.

What was the outcome?

Day 1 

We started the event in the evening with a keynote address where we focussed on educating the participants on the GSJ, basic concepts of Service Design, and some basic rules of he game. We figured that the since we as organizers were new to the concept we needed to educate the participants. Ice breaker. We planned a fun ice breaker to get the Jammers into the groove and it worked out really well (some people still insist on calling me Just-Mast Jagbir). 
The Jammers were then divided into 3 teams of 8-9, we wanted to keep the numbers high on each team to ensure that the teams could work even if some people opted out. Since this was a first of its kind in India we were not really sure about its uptake till the end. The theme & the ideas This years theme was "Hidden Treasure" and after the initial brainstorming sessions each of the teams were asked to share their ideas with the entire group. The ideas were really impressive and so was the approach taken by the teams to determine them. We ended day 1 here to come back and start afresh. 

Day 2

As mentioned earlier we (organizers) were a little worried about the turnout after the teams had experienced the initial brainstorming sessions. However, response from the Jammers was fantastic and our eyes and hearts brightened with the energy they brought along. We started the day with a small presentation on what was expected from the teams and shared the Business Model Canvas and the prototyping methods to help guide them. We also shared the various concepts from the previous years to help them understand the concept development and prototyping aspects. To our benefit showing the previous years concepts also served as a nice break for the participants. Again the energy and dedication of the Jammers was amazing through out the day and this was visible in their outputs.

Day 3

I had planned to skip the event on Sunday (the wife had a long list of chores lined up) but the enthusiasm of the participants was infectious and I was tempted to see the shape their ideas took. The teams had a bit of a mad dash in the end to finish their prototypes but they just about made it in the end. The quality of their ideas was reflected in their prototypes as well and they once again managed to leave us spell bound. 

To sum it up we loved the energy, enthusiasm, cooperative attitude, excellent quality ideas and their execution. We learnt, we laughed, we mingled,and were left asking for more.... 

 View final presentations here.


  1. Great write-up, thanks!
    Global Co-initiator

    1. Thanks to you guys for driving this initiative. Its a pleasure to be part of this.