Global GovJam is an annual event which brings people together to try out creative ways of re-designing public services.
The GovJam has been running for five years and an event was held in Dundee for the first time this year.
The Gov in GovJam is loosely defined: from healthcare to civic projects.
The Jam in GovJam refers to the experience of working differently. Jammers start with a good question, do research, turn their insights into an interesting, imperfect idea which they then build and test. There is an emphasis on building on each other’s ideas, learning and sharing – just like a music jam.
The Global refers to the 30+ GovJams taking place across the world at the same time with live video and social media creating a remarkable world village of public service innovation. Barcelona, Houston, Athens, Mumbai and Melbourne were amongst those cities joining in.
The Dundee GovJam was organised by Dundee & Angus College in partnership with Service Design Agency, Open Change. The event took place at Dundee & Angus College’s Gardyne campus over two and a half days in May. Dundee’s GovJam was the largest of 32 worldwide with over 80 participants from 23 organisations including NHS Tayside, three local authorities, several further and higher education institutions and a wide range of third sector organisations.
Working in 10 mixed teams exploring themes from transport and tourism to tranquil spaces – undertaking user-research to identify real needs and develop and build ideas to test and show how things could be done differently. Support was offered via talks and mentoring from people working in design, theatre, business and citizen journalism.
Reported outcomes included learning:
- To think of others needs in a broader and more empathetic way
- To challenge their own assumptions
- To experiment and think creatively
- You don’t need all the answers to start working on a problem
- To work with new people
- How to prototype ideas
- How much can be achieved in a short time by committed people
Support and participation
The DundeeGovJam website provided access to ticketing, profiles of the people and organisations involved, the process and benefits of the event and useful resources on design methods introduced during Dundee GovJam.
The event also featured the use of Mozilla Open Badges – digital certification of the skills and knowledge gained by participating in Dundee GovJam. These are issued by Dundee & Angus College, and can be displayed online through LinkedIn and online portfolios to share with employers. The College provided information on how to gain the badges.
Testimonials from local and national leaders helped profile the event in advance, and a number of organisations recognised attendance as professional development.
“I encourage all those working in the city’s public services take part in Dundee GovJam. Over the past year at the council we have been building our service design skills through numerous workshops in the same style as the Dundee GovJam. It’s a great way of bringing fresh thinking into service redesign, alongside developing new skills, knowledge and working collaboratively with others” – David Martin, Chief Executive, Dundee City Council
It’s time we really put some thought into designing services around about the interests of the people who use them. I’m really pleased that D&A College is taking part in Dundee GovJam, it’s a really fresh and exciting way to go about service redesign. We want all our services to be slick, quick and easy for our communities to access” – Grant Ritchie, Principal, Dundee & Angus College
“Dundee GovJam represents to me the amazing spirit of discovery that flows through Dundee. At Scottish Government we are committed to a vision of public services that are always designed with, and not simply for, their users. If GovJam is about anything it’s about helping us all understand that in Scotland service design is everyone’s business!” – Catriona Macaulay, Head of User Research & Service Design, The Scottish Government
“Dundee GovJam is part of an international service design movement, bringing people together from across the world, bridging professional divides and encouraging learning from each other. Initiatives like this support V&A Dundee’s mission by increasing awareness of the power of design to solve problems and improve lives. It’s great to see Dundee as a UNESCO City of Design hosting this global event and adopting design as a means of developing better and more intuitive public services” – Philip Long, Director V&A Dundee
The experience of Dundee GovJam 2017 is best conveyed through the media generated over the course of the two days.
- Jammer’s Handbook:
- Photo streams:
We secured a range of specialists who worked with us to provide short inspirational talks on the following subjects.
- Katie Bain – Open Badges
- Jen Ballie – V&A Dundee
- Jennifer Jones – How to be a citizen journalist
- Cat Macaulay – The Scottish Approach to Service Design
- Ali McGill – The Mission Model Canvas
- Lisa Murphy – Co-design with young people at Young Scot
- Gill Paterson – Realising Realistic Medicine
- Mike Press – Field research
- Sandy Thomson – Empathy – walking in other’s shoes
- Andy Young – Prototyping
- Hazel White – Introduction to Service Design and Journey mapping
The talks were live streamed on YouTube and are available to watch on the Dundee GovJam YouTube Channel.
Throughout GovJam participants were encouraged to use social media to both document their experience and to connect the Dundee GovJam with others elsewhere. This Storify provides a clear overview of the story of Dundee GovJam as told on twitter. During the jam Dundee was twinned with Istanbul, and there is media coverage there which refers to Dundee.
Outputs and outcomes
A total of ten projects were undertaken by participants covering a range of issues including transport, improvising air pollution, personalising public services and better use of urban green spaces.
During the GovJam teams uploaded work in progress: photographs of prototypes, videos and sketch work to the GlobalGovJam site. The value of this kind of intensive, taster event is often the outcomes rather than outputs – the learning, the change in mindsets and the impact on future ways of working.
Feedback was gathered from participants to evaluate what they liked, didn’t like and had learned from the event and how they would carry this forward.
The overwhelmingly positive feedback described gaining creative confidence and learning new methods and approaches. This is also evident from participant blogs – like this by participant Emma Duke Williams.