What is a Jam?

At the start of June, people interested in public sector services will meet in locations dotted around the globe. They will be public servants, designers, students, academics, business people, service users, mums, kids and grand-dads.

In a spirit of experimentation, innovation, co-operation and friendly competition, teams will have less than 48 hours to develop and prototype completely new public sector services inspired by a shared theme.  At the end of the Jam, their collection of brand new services will be published to the world.

Do I have to be there the whole time?

No. The event is running from 9am – 9pm on Wednesday 10th June and 9am – 5pm on Thursday 11th June, but you don’t need to be there all the time – just pop in when you can!

What comes out of the Jam?

The results of a Jam are twofold:

  • Concrete output might be in the form of policy documents in an actionable or decidable form; change suggestions supported by research and plans of action: service designs: initiatives or platforms; and things we have not thought of yet.
  • Equally valuable intangible outcomes will be in experiencing diverse ideas and new working methods, building real connections to people in the same team, between public services and citizens, or to people on the other side of the world – and in seeing how a structured innovation process can produce robust, concrete and human-centred results even in just 48 hours.

Is this only for “service designers” and public service employees?

No. Anyone can take part. You just need to be interested in services or creativity, and have an open, enquiring mind.

You might be a service designer, a gov person, a public employee, an academic, a citizen, a student, a customer experience person, a patient, a politician, someone in the public service frontline, unemployed, an actor, an artist, a doctor, a grandpa or a kid.

Why should I participate?

As a participant in the Global GovJam, you will work through a whole design process in a 48hr period. Whether you are experienced or completely new to the field, you won’t just be talking about creating or improving public services, you will be working with others on developing concrete ideas and designs which could become real.


  • You will learn more about a design-based approach to problems, and about public services.
  • You will do something for others, helping the public sector to better understand the public – and vice versa.
  • You will pick up a load of new ideas and work practices.
  • You will meet a lot of cool people at all levels of experience.
  • If you are a public sector worker, you will be able to pick up and try our new techniques in an environment where there is no “hard sell”.
  • Your work and ideas will be reviewed by your peers, and presented to the world, where they can be seen by people who could make them real.
  • You will design something that might become reality.
  • You will certainly have a great time.

 Can you say more about what we will actually create at the Jam?

That’s really up to you.

Our basic field for this event is “public sector services”, but we will give you a specific Theme which we hope will inspire and challenge you. Be prepared that these ideas are just the starting point. At a Jam, we move past ideas fast to create functional prototypes, which are far more powerful, robust and testable than any “idea” or “concept”.

What are the rules?

In essence they are:

  • Sign up in advance through out Eventbrite page (link on the website)
  • People are already talking about the Jam, so you should follow our local Jam on Twitter (@govjamSX #govjamSX) and globally (@GovJamHQ and #GGovJam) and on Facebook.
  • Show up on time.
  • Bring any special tools you need.
  • Do not bring a team or an idea. These will form at the Jam.
  • Do not bring pre-made content. The services developed at the Jam should be new.
  • Work together in a spirit of conversation and co-operation. Don’t bring an agenda.
  • During the Jam, do not communicate the themes to any Jam in a timezone which does not know them yet… This is Deeply Cheesy, as themes are announced at local times. Be helpful but be secretive.
  • Be prepared to share the results of your work under a Creative Commons license.
  • Have fun!

How big is a Jam?

A jam will need to be at least one team. We think that means a minimum size of about five people, but the more teams, the more fun. About fifteen or twenty people seems to be a nice size for a small Jam, thirty or forty has a great vibe.

 What is the Theme for the Jam?

Shhh!  That’s a secret!

Of course, the overarching theme of the Jam is public sector services – but there will be a special Secret Theme for the two days.  This Secret Theme will carefully be chosen by representatives of the worldwide organising team and kept Top Secret until it is announced on the Tuesday evening (local time) in each location.

We expect the Theme will be quite abstract, to allow a wide range of practical applications, depending on the participants’ interests.

An example from the Global Service Jam is the theme: “(Super)HEROES”.  The participants interpreted it in many different ways, producing many different types of services based on sharing, helping, empowerment, or even super-powers.

The Theme of one Global Sustainability Jam was “PLAYGROUNDS”, so participants developed lots of projects about play, education, and the use and redefinition of public spaces.

The Global GovJam is more about tools, methods, people, ideas and exchange than any particular field of application.

What can I expect to see?

Lots of activity! The emphasis is on doing, not talking, and on usable prototypes, not slick presentations. Service jam participants often surprise themselves with how much they can achieve together in a short space of time, and with how quickly they can make a prototype that elicits valuable feedback from potential service users.

How can it benefit my organisation/department/team?

GovJam is a great way to find out more about service design and how it can make a difference to your public, private or voluntary sector organisation. We welcome participants as individuals and in groups from the same workplace. Where you come as a group we’ll encourage you to split up across different teams to make the most of the learning and networking opportunities available.

What happens to the stuff we make during the jam?

All works will be licensed under Creative Commons. The team that made them is free to develop their ideas further after the jam, but the results of the jam itself must be open.

Where else in the world is GovJam happening?

Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Singapore, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, UAE, UK, USA and more. There’s a growing list of GovJam sites at http://www.govjam.org/