Posted in Design, Research

Hands-on at the local Global Service Design Jam

I was part of Wellington’s participation in the 2016 Global Service Design Jam –  about 75 teams from around the world spent 48 hours designing services from scratch during that final summer weekend (26 -28 Feb).

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The emphasis was firmly on doing – process over outcome – meaning it was a fantastically easy way to practise some of the basics of collaborative design. At the Biz Dojo shared workspace in Tory Street fifty of us Jammers ended up producing eight service propositions – from brainstorms to finished prototypes – at a crazy fun pace.

On Friday night organiser Struan Rickman unveiled the Jam’s kick-off theme. It was not a ‘thing’, but a sound – I imagined a plop as if a heavy object had been released into water – or alternatively something had risen from beneath to break the water’s surface.

And the Jam commenced…

We milked every conceivable and fanciful meaning we could from that tiny piece of audio. Notions of concealment, disappearance, darkness, riverbanks, dead bodies predominated.

Out of this process and within an hour groups formed to nail problem statements for services that they hoped might help a specific group of users.

Service Design Jam 2016
Brainstorming with post-its, from theme to problem statement.

I chose to be part of team Tiger Sharks, thinking about Wellington’s homeless. Saturday morning we set off in pairs to talk to our users. Michael, Tama, Charles, Tom and John generously shared their experiences of sleeping rough. A few hours in we identified a need they had in common regardless of whether they’d been homeless a few days or many years –  secure storage.

The men all hoped to turn their lives around by finding work and a place to live but having to carry their belongings or find somewhere secret to stash it drains them of time and energy every single day. They also said it is very stressful wondering if all your possessions will disappear before nightfall.  

Service Design Jam 2016
Left: Getting feedback from Michael, 64 using the first locker prototype, Courtney Place. Right: Talking to Tom, 40 in Courtney Place

Creating a storage service for Wellington’s homeless became our Jam goal.

We constructed a locker in cardboard and carried it back to show the men. Their criticism enabled us to discard some of our assumptions – for example that supplies like toothbrushes and toothpaste should be included – because while the men clearly had poor dental hygiene most actually had no – or few – teeth to brush and those that did brush their teeth were managing that already.

As ever it became a process of reducing and simplifying and of justifying every element that remained.

While cutting, taping, slotting, and sticking cardboard and post-its we addressed cost, funding, maintenance, management, locations, public perception, materials, community value and service principles.

Service Design Jam 2016

We finished on Sunday afternoon by role-playing the ‘Street Stow’ service using our second, very much refined cardboard-prototyped storage locker with communal notice-board and solar panel, thumb-print access, clothes hangers and 12v socket for smartphone charging, to the other Jammers, Jam judges and mentors.

Being truly collaborative within a team formed around an idea (we didn’t know one another before this) is most definitely the prize takeaway for me. Happily Tiger Sharks won a very cute (cardboard) ‘Best Viable Service’ trophy.

I’d love to be part of the next Jam, and in the meantime perhaps one of us Tiger Sharks will find someone who can champion the ‘Street Stow’ service proposition for real. Its amazing what can be accomplished in a weekend.