Latest Event Updates

Phew! Another Awesome Jam!

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Volunteer Agz facilitates discussion

Leeds GovJam 2019 has happened, and what a jam! With some 50 participants plus an enthusiastic team of volunteers, ODI was buzzing.

Jammers went through the standard phases of the GovJam experience – complete bewilderment on learning the theme, generation of mountains of post-it note ideas and concepts, problem definition, user research, abandonment of the first idea, refinement, solution ideation, prototyping and show not tell. Wowzer!

Volunteer Si takes a few minutes to help jammers get to grips with prototyping

Twinjamming happened with Blackpool and London GovJams. After a shaky start trying to do this as a big group, we reconsidered options and the idea of having 121 twinjams with a rep from each a group and an expert from each location (Si Wilson from Leeds and Martin Jordan from London) proved a complete success. This approach is definitely some important learning for future twinjams.

When people start making stuff it gets really exciting!

Teams were really engaged and proactive in approaching the volunteers for advice, guidance and to test out their ideas. As a set of volunteers we were really pleased with this and happy to work with the volunteers to help them develop their ideas and prototypes.

Collaboration is at the heart of design and jamming

Collaboration went well, it seemed everyone had an opportunity to get involved.


Leeds GovJam is Now Live!

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We have a full house at Leeds GovJam ready for 2 full days of ideas, solutions, testing, prototypes and finding ways to address public sector challenges!

Wow! Nearly time to jam!

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We are all so excited!

Only 1 weekend to go before Leeds GovJam!

On 22nd and 23rd October we will be at ODI, Leeds to work together on finding innovative, customer focussed solutions to some of the challenges faced by the public sector.

It’s about working together, working at pace and sharing. GovJam is great fun, enabling you to work with new people without fear of being forced to ‘network’.

2019 Leeds Service Jammers getting to know each other

Come and join us, we’d love to meet you. Book now at

One Week to Go!

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Wow! Where did the time go? Leeds GovJam is fast approaching – it’s next week!

It’s nearly time to get involved in a fun, friendly and fast paced couple of days where we will be learning by doing and sharing.

Supported by volunteers, you will work in teams on projects that you will design using a range of design methods. Please browse previous blogs on this website to learn more about these.

Not only do you learn and share skills, but it’s a great networking opportunity as well.

Don’t miss this opportunity, it’s only thirty quid for 2 days of learning and we will even provide food and drink!

To book your place visit

Getting out and about with user research

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2019 Leeds Service Jammers get the lowdown from the locals

You’ve framed a problem, but how do you know it’s the right problem?  Is it even a problem at all?  At Govjam you will go out into the community and conduct some user research to test your idea.

To do this, you will need to prepare.   You will need to consider the interviewees’ experience when planning this work:

– Who will ask the questions?

– Who will capture the answers?

– How will the answers be captured EG recording, writing down?

– What permission will be needed from the interviewees?

– How many people from your group are going to take part?

– How many questions will you realistically expect people to answer?

Think about how you will explain the issue you are researching to someone who has never met you before.

Design the questions in plain English so that people are not confused by ambiguous words or jargon.

Test your questions out of one the mentors to ensure they work on someone who isn’t in your group.

Try to keep your questions open so that people are free to tell you what they really think.  Closed questions will limit what people can tell you.  Here’s an example:

– Do you attend arts events?


– Tell us about the last arts or community event you went to

Let’s go to work

Try not to ask multiple questions in one, for instance:

– Tell us about the last arts event you went to, why you went there and whether you’d do it again.

This can lead to the interviewee feeling overwhelmed and unable to think of what to say.  Keep it simple, and break it down to the key things you want to know about.  You can drill down into the detail of the answers as the conversation flows, using the occasional closed question to clarify things.  Eg:

– Tell us about the last arts or community event you went to

‘I went to Leeds pride parade recently, does that count?’

– Yes, what made you decide to attend it?

‘A friend had been before and invited me along’

– Would you have gone without that invitation?

‘I don’t think so’

– Why?

And so on ….

Tell me more…

Try to capture what people tell you in their own words so you get the real meaning and sentiment behind it.  It’s tempting to paraphrase to fit your own assumptions, but try hard not to.

What do their non-verbal signals tell you?  For instance, their gestures, facial expression or tone of voice.  This can be especially revealing.

When you get back to the rest of the group, report back your findings and use them to refine your problem statement.  Don’t worry if you learn that the problem doesn’t exist, and you need to start a new one.  This is all part of the learning!

Further reading:  Try Design Kit by IDEO for a range of methods

Book your tickets and get involved!

How do we define the problem?

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Leeds Service Jammers 2019 get to grips with the challenge under the mentorship of a volunteer

So you’ve got the theme, but what does it mean?  In groups, you will work together to frame the problem.  But how?

Govjam won’t prescribe the way in which you approach this, but we’d suggest you try having a stab at just writing a statement about what the problem is.  This blog just picks a random theme as an example, yours could be anything!

You could start by writing up your assumptions about the problem, for instance ‘people are too busy to take part in community arts events’.  You can then start to unpick it, for instance:

– which people?

– what do we mean by ‘too busy’?

– why are people busy?

– what is the impact of not attending community arts events?

You can then consider framing your question as a ‘how might we’ question, for instance:

‘how might community arts events attract people who commute away from the area?’

You can then continue to challenge it – for instance, why does it matter that the community arts events attract more people?  Is this about sustaining a community arts group?  What is the benefit of that art group anyway? 

You can use a popular technique known as the Five Whys to really get to the bottom of why your group thinks this is a problem.  It means literally asking ‘why?’ five times:

‘People are too busy to attend community arts events’


‘People have long working days’


‘People have to commute, which adds time onto the working day’


‘People think there aren’t enough job opportunities in the local community’


‘This is a small, rural community and our traditional industries are in decline’


‘Demand for those traditional products has fallen, but our local arts sector is starting to pick up’

Now you can see the question is really about sustaining a new arts economy, which puts a whole different complexion on the problem!

Up for the challenge? Book your ticket now at

Jamming Across the Globe: 48 hours to save the world!

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A personal view by Salma Azfal

Have you ever found that some people approach a challenge or a problem differently? Do you wish you could tackle a problem with a range of approaches and generate lots of ideas?

Leeds Gov Jam is an amazing opportunity to experience working differently and learn new behaviours and techniques that you can use in your work and life. You won’t be alone, there are 100 plus cities all over the world trying to solve the same problem and makepublic services better. You could be one of these amazing people.

Jamming with friends

Taking part in a Jam as a participant has been an amazing experience and it gave me the confidence to write my first blog and share my experience. You can read about it –I learned ALOT in my first jam

It’s an opportunity to work outside your comfort zone with strangers who can go on to become lifelong friends, confidante or even mentors. You are given a blank canvas and with an open mind and some blue sky thinking, you can create something brilliant and magical to share with the world, either alone or as part of a self-organised team.

Pledge wall

So if you’re highly curious take the opportunity of two days of intense learning of fun, innovation, creativity – a JAM-TASTIC experience!

I love to Jam as the jam ethos is #doingnottalking. It’s a hands on practical way of how I can be more human focused in my work by applying design thinking tools and techniques, continuously improving and refreshing my skills to work in new ways.

Some participants from Leeds GovJam 2018

By jamming, I feel part of a global Jam community, always collaborating, sharing ideas, innovating and learning from each other in a creative way. It doesn’t matter what job you do, or what your background is, I’d encourage everyone to Jam. You get to work on community issues, meet loads of lovely people, play with Lego and have lots of fun why wouldn’t you want to be part of a global experience…

Map of worldwide Jams

Through jamming I’ve met so many wonderful and talented jammers from different walks of like that I’m still in contact with. I can’t imagine not ever being part of this community… This year I’m part of the Leeds Gov Jam organising team and look forward to welcoming and supporting jammers on the day and  beyond – in FUTURE jams.


Anyone can take part in a Jam. Are you up for the challenge to improve public sector services across the world on a global scale? Either book your ticket or gift it to a friend. Come and join us please – we wait to welcome you.


Link to tickets for Leeds Gov Jam tickets

The Theme is Revealed!

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We’ve all assembled, got a brew and are ready. The anticipation builds. The room goes quiet.
The theme is announced!

Now what?

In small groups, we’ll rapidly brainstorm what we think the theme is about. All ideas are welcome, there are no wrong ideas.
Then we’ll share them, putting them up on the wall for all to see.

We’ll all walk through the ideas as a single group, and gradually refine them into a set of ideas grouped by loose topics. Everyone can choose which topic appeals to them most (it doesn’t have to be the one you came up with!). This way, people are brought together into groups through things that interest them, and your topic group will work together over the 2 days on designing a solution to the challenge in your topic.

Sounds fun? It is!
Join us, and book your ticket at

What Happens at Leeds GovJam?

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Marie Cheung (left) and Godmother of GovJam Kathryn Grace (right) inject fun into learning at GovJam in Leeds

Over the 2 days at GovJam, you will follow the design thinking process (more on this come in future blogs!).

This means working together to define a challenge and design solutions.

Overview of how things run at GovJam

Supported by expert speakers (such as Kathryn Grace pictured above) you will be presented with a general theme. From this we will work together to define specific challenges to work on as projects in small groups.

You’ll go out into town to conduct user research and to prototype your solution ideas; you’ll do some desk research and will be supported and inspired to think creatively by a team of mentors.

As you work on the projects, we will get together regularly so you can present your progress to the rest of the group and get peer feedback. You’ll be encouraged to present by showing what you have done, not telling – we want to see how it works, not hear a description of it. (Again, more on this in future blogs). We will also be sharing our work with the world by uploading to the Global GovJam site; see previous submissions here .

We may also be twinjamming – this means connecting with another GovJam that is happening in another part of the world. This gives you the chance to hear about each others’ projects and take the opportunity to get input and advice from each other.

We will also provide you with lunch and plenty of brews.

We’ll be blogging more over the coming weeks to explain about how we do all these activities over the 2 days of GovJam so keep coming back to find out more!

What is GovJam Anyway?

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GovJam started in 2012 as a pilot in Australia.  It is a global, 48 hour event in which you can apply and learn about a range of techniques from the theory called ‘Design Thinking’ (more on these techniques to come in future blogs!).  If you are keen to get the details on GovJam visit .

The idea is that you spend 2 days (don’t worry, we let you go home at night!) with a diverse group of people from a range of different workplaces and experiences.  Some of these people will be from the public sector, some won’t – the important thing is that we work in small teams to come up with new ideas for solutions to problems that the public sector is trying to tackle.

There is a fairly standard format across the 2 days based on a design process, but it’s up to your group to manage your own work.  This diagram gives you an idea of what to expect.

During the 2 days you will also have brief presentations from experts about techniques you could use at each stage, and you will be supported by some of our volunteers who will be there in a mentoring capacity.  You’ll need to work as a team and we’ll ask you share with everyone what you are working on, and to help each other out.  There might also be a ‘twinjam’ – that means we join up with a jam somewhere else in the world to share what we are working on and to offer support.

Sounds like hard work?  Well, it is, and it’s rapid.  It’s also rewarding, a great way to learn and try out new techniques in a safe space and it is FUN.

Piqued your interest? Book your ticket here

Look out for our next blog which will explain more about what happens at GovJam!