Looking forward to Leeds GovJam 2017

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Leeds GovJam is a learning and problem solving event kicking off this week at ODI Leeds. Here, participants will form teams and collaborate rapidly in prototyping solutions to public sector problems using service design tools and techniques. Leeds GovJam brings together citizens and people working in different sectors and this diversity is key to unlocking the jam’s potential. This is because Leeds GovJam is like a music jam where people come together to make good stuff that they could not do on their own.

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 13.11.01
Leeds GovJam is like a music jam where people come together to make good stuff…


Everyone problem-solving around a global theme

Leeds GovJam is a part of the Global GovJam, which flies around the world every year creating solutions for public sector problems like a murmuration of innovation. These solutions are designed in response to a global theme that is kept secret until jams the world over have seen it. At the end of the two days, teams upload their solutions as prototypes and documentation to the global website under a Creative Commons License. The Global GovJam is organised by WorkPlayExperience, a service innovation and customer experience consultancy, together with volunteers from around the world. The Global GovJam is a non-profit event and a huge achievement considering there is no real budget.

Having serious fun, play with a purpose

I have been volunteering for Leeds GovJam since 2014 because I am attracted by its energy, creativity and the infinite possibilities for problem solving. I love the serendipity, the cross-fertilisation and fusion of ideas made real through prototyping. I love the ambition, innovation and iteration to make things that matter better. I believe that some of the greatest problems we face in this world can only be solved by citizens and different sectors collaborating on solutions. Jams offer a safe space to work towards this greater good. Having said that, the overarching goal of the jam is serious fun, play with a purpose.

Prototyping solutions and new ways of working

Participants learn new skills by doing new things, they meet new people. Ideas and experiences collide and come together in novel ways through interactive prototyped solutions. These prototyped solutions are outputs that get uploaded to the global website. However, the most important outputs are perhaps the changes people experience during and after their jamming journey. This includes how people change the way they work and live. Plus, the relationships that people build beyond the two-day sprint.

A great leveller for inclusive innovation

Starting with people’s needs and problems is a great place to start when it comes to jamming. Equally, starting by recognising the potential of all participants to be creative and innovative is important too. I love jamming because it puts people on a level as Jammers. There is no hierarchy. It is inclusive. It is empowering. In a jam, we are all creative innovators, working on a level.

Learning by doing, doing not talking

Jammers come from different sectors, different organisations, different parts of society. What they all have in common is curiosity, an openness to learn and to be part of something bigger than themselves. Jammers have values such as ‘learning by doing’ and ‘doing not talking’. These values live large through beliefs and behaviours that underpin an energised, agile and open culture.

Being a jam volunteer has helped me to learn lots about service design, teamwork and innovation. It has also taught me the value of culture, common values and a safe space in creating movements and change.

Here’s to a GGreat Global GovJam 2017! Follow along with the fun via ‪#GGovJam

And do get in touch if you would like to help us organise Leeds jams in future 🙂

Lisa Jeffery, volunteer


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