Global Service Jam – “It’s not about talking and brainstorming. It’s about doing.”

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In today’s Design Community ‘Jams’ and ‘Hackathons’ are becoming the norm in bringing together individuals from all backgrounds to focus on one common theme: Design. These Jams and Hackathons aim to use design methodologies to solve a problem in a limited number of hours, usually 24 to 48 hours. At the end of which, the innovative solutions are presented, often with viable products and/or concepts.

But that’s not the most valuable take away. It’s what the participants learn by doing. It’s not about talking and brainstorming. It’s about doing.

So what’s a Global Service Jam?

GSJ-logo“The first Global Service Jam took place in March 2011, where more than 1200 participants in more than 50 cities created around 200 unique service designs around the Theme “(Super)HEROES”.”(1) Since then, the service jam has grown annually, with more than 90 participating cities in the United States alone in 2017!

In partnership with TMC | Innovation and promoted by Design Thinking Houston, MJV Technology and Innovation hosted the first Houston Annual Global Service Jam this past month. With over 40 jammers signing-up and two strong teams of individuals from different backgrounds, the Houston Design community came together to solve this year’s secret theme: “Hello? Lo? o? o.”


During the 48 hr service jam, the jammers were taught how to creatively use blind variation and selective retention in the brainstorming process along with design methodologies from Service Design and UX to create and solve a problem related to the theme.

And what is Service Design?

“Service Design choreographs processes, technologies, and interactions within complex systems in order to co-create value for relevant stakeholders.” – Birgit Mager (Professor of Service Design, KISD; SDN President)

The Jam was divided into 3 days totaling 48 hours
The Jam was divided into 3 days totaling 48 hours

The first day, Friday, unveiled the theme, and introduced the service design tools of Brainstorming and Affinitization:

Brainstorming: The group activity of generating multiple ideas without judgement and identifying.

Affinitization: Team effort of understanding and grouping information, usually ideas generated in Brainstorming.

The jammers brainstormed topics on the subjects of: machine learning, artificial intelligence, cultural and generational communication gaps, communication in general, cultural change, technology, and smart grids.

At the end of the night, teams were formed on proposed concepts solutions that interest the participants. Two teams were formed.

The second day, Saturday, started value proposition for service concepts that defined the scope of problem each team were to solve. Then the rest of the time were spend discussing the focus and prototyping solutions.

Value Proposition: MJV believes that service is as good as the value it brings to the customer and stakeholder. A customer-centric value proposition is a proposition of solution that creates value and opportunity that is relevant, in context, and competitive with existing solutions.

Prototyping: Low-fidelity models that tests out design ideas quickly and cost-effectively. Fail Fast. Learn early.

The final day, Sunday, the team gathers once more to finalize concept and prepare to present the interactive prototype.

Surveys were given to participants before and then after the jam has shown that understanding of design thinking was improved by jammer’s participation in the jam.


1. Global Service Jam

2. TMC Innovation

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