As well as running 3 global Jamming events, at WorkPlayExperience we use innovation jams and similar pressure cooker formats in our work. Like many Jammers, we are deeply interested in refining and improving the techniques of Jamming. So in February 2013 we travelled to Sao Paulo to meet with with around 40 Jam organizers and jammers from all over the world. We wanted to reflect on the experience of the previous global Jams and actively work on tools and structures to make the next one better - "Jamming the Jam".
We call this format a Jam-Jam - a jam to make innovation jams better. A Jam-Jam is partly a retrospective or post-mortem - but more importantly it takes the insights and turn them into something useable straight away, using the resources and time (the weekend and nothing more) we have.
Although it's always the usual Jam mixture of playfulness and hard, hard work (perhaps more so than most Jams), the structure of the Jam-Jams is different every time. In the last Nuremberg JamJam in 2012 we were lucky to be able to use the fantastic facilities of the Fab Lab Nürnberg and the Co-Working Space Nürnberg. So we decided to build our experiences as an full sized exhibition with the walk-through corresponding to the actual journey of a jammer during one of the Jams. This was a great way to share experiences in a non-linear way, instead of sitting through a presentation by each of the dozen or more Jams represented at JamJam. The exhibits showed open questions and insights from the jams at the beginning of the weekend, and they were updated as we created more tools and assets along the way.
In Sao Paulo we tried another structure, as we were especially interested in different ways to facilitate and document Jams.
At a Pre-Jam-Jam on Friday, we got to know each other while sharing, reflecting and generating first insights in an unconference format.
The Jam-Jam itself (Friday 17:00 to Sunday 14:00) was divided into four 4-hour mini-jams, each facilitated by a different team, and documented by another group. Each minijam was followed by a reflection session, looking at the results of the 4 hours, but also examining the facilitation and documentation methods.
We certainly got a whole lot done to help the whole Jam community, and many of the projects led to improvements which were implemented in the 2013 Global Service Jam one month later. But the reflective meta structure let us experience some very varied facilitation styles and learn how different they can be without loosing sight of great results.
What we learned
We experienced everything from self-facilitated Jams, to high pressure minute-by-minute countdowns. There's no room here to cover everything that we learned, but let's say every style had its advantages. Jamming is not a case where "one-size-fits-all", that's for sure. While a very structured approach seemed to resonate well with service design newbies, styles with less interference worked better with experienced jammers. Even then, many "expert" Jammers found it hard to hit the (rather relaxed) deadline with no facilitation at all...