Team Yuno Report: Smithfield Service Jam 2014

The Global Service Jam is an enormous festival of service design, like a vast jam session in music. People come together all over the world, bringing their skills and open minds. Someone sets up a theme, and everyone starts to jam around it. But it’s not music you are jamming – it’s change. (Find out more at the main Global Jam site)

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The Smithfield Service Jam was part of this worldwide event, and I was lucky enough to be a part of it. The Jam was sponsored by Truth, and took place at their office in Farringdon, mentored by Erick Mohr. After pizzas and icebreakers, we found out the theme for this year’s jam.

The theme for this year's jam.
The theme for this year’s jam.

A stunned silence. The theme is… a box?

First Steps

Erick divided us into teams, and invited us to start jamming on a service design concepts around the theme. Here are some ideas we came up with.

  • Flatpack emergency housing for disaster areas.
  • An aide-memoire, to help people remember by using their hands, like a physical mnemonic.
  • The box as a metaphor for protection and safety, with the unfolded box echoing the cardboard bedclothes of the homeless.
  • Re-usable packaging.
  • The box as a metaphor for social entrapment, with the unfolded box symbolising breaking free from constraints.
  • A mystery box, containing surprises.
  • A three-dimensional GPS grid.

Creativity involves alternate bouts of divergent and convergent thinking. We moved into our teams to pare down our ideas, and to choose which of our several options to follow up on. With so many good ideas, my group found it hard to pick just one, so we decided to sleep on it.

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Saturday

My team started the day trying to choose between our two best ideas. One was a service to help full-time carers make friends outside of their existing circles, rather than being “boxed in” by their care responsibilities. The other was a smart digital aide-memoire that folds up into a cube. We explored both ideas, including considering how they could be linked.

Empathy, Prototyping, Storytelling: the three pillars of service design

Could a new smart device, like the cube, ease any pain points for full-time carers? Our thinking grew around the three pillars of service design – empathy, prototyping and storytelling. We tried to consider respite care from the perspective of a full-time carer.

  • How do you feel when your loved one is with a respite carer? I feel worried.
  • Why are you worried? I’m worried my loved one will not get good care.
  • Why? Because it’s hard to communicate their needs to a respite carer.
  • Why is it hard? Because my loved one’s needs are complex, and change often.
  • And? And we have a different respite carer each week.

We identified an emotional need with a clear trigger. I worry because I can’t communicate my loved one’s care needs effectively. Could a smart device eliminate this worry? Could the cube improve communication between full-time and respite carers?

Sat lunch

We decided to devote our energies to designing a service around this act of communication. One of the principles of the jam is Make prototypes, not presentations. We threw together a cardboard cube, and used post-it notes to mock-up potential features and functions.

This was our first prototype. It was chunky and unwieldy, but it showed how the product would work. Erick was our first test subject – without knowing anything about our idea, he watched our video, and told us what he understood about the service. It was a good learning experience. We then tested out our physical prototype with Harriet, one of the Jam mentors, who also gave us useful feedback.

The next iteration built on the advice we received, and incorporated other improvements. We made a real-sized working model from Lego, and then another from foam board, as well a larger model to demonstrate our features.

Lego and foamboard versions
Lego and foamboard versions

The day ended with a plenary, where we talked about progress with other jammers, and shared the name of our product: Care Cube.

Sunday

The morning was spent refining our prototype. Team members worked on storyboarding (sample) and scripting for our second prototype video, developing the business model canvas for our service, mocking up interfaces for the smart touchscreen surfaces, and designing a logo for the product.

As the submission deadline drew closer, we revised our script, made a rough cut of our film, and then recorded our voiceover. Editing together the second version of our film took a lot of energy and effort, especially when compared to how easily our first prototype was produced. We uploaded a low resolution version to the Global Jam site, and then rendered a higher quality version. We’d finished!

Our co-jammers came together to wrap up the session, and the jam. I was so impressed by the work other teams had produced. A huge amount of talent was on display at our jam. I especially loved Lick The Stamp, a match-making service for penpals, and Mystery Box, a leisure activities discovery service. You can see it all on the Global Jam Central page here.

Wrapping up at the end of the jam.
Wrapping up at the end of the jam.

Final Thoughts

I learned a huge amount by participating in the Global Service Jam at Smithfield. I worked with a really talented team, and alongside some simply brilliant co-jammers and mentors. My key learning points:

  • Prototypes, not presentations: Do, don’t talk. Iterate fast. Fail fast. Learn fast.
  • Empathy, Prototyping, Storytelling: the three pillars of service design
  • Make the other guy look good: collaborative creativity can lead to conflict without give and take on all sides. Be generous, it’s good for the team.
We are the jam! The 2014 Smithfield Jammers, and mentors from Truth.
We are the jam! The 2014 Smithfield Jammers, and mentors from Truth.

Thanks to all of the Smithfield Jam participants, and massive, massive thanks to Erick, Hannah and all at Truth Consulting, without whose generosity the jam would never have happened.


The Global Jam Central site is here. Prototypes produced by the Smithfield jam are here. Our project mini-site is here. The main Smithfield Jam site is here.

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