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20-20a Westminster Buildings, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 6LG(0115) 888 2828

HeX hosts Global GovJam 2018

Written by Zara Gemmell on

As an organiser of any event there will always be apprehension and nerves.  Thankfully we were surrounded by an amazing bunch of people who were around to calm the nerves, share their knowledge and support HeX in their very first Global GovJam in Nottingham.

What is Global GovJam?

Global GovJam is an international public sector focussed event, co-ordinated online to create a unique collaborative experience, under the guidance of professionals within the field of service design.

“A Jam is a high-energy event that brings diverse people together. They explore ways to change the world around them using design and a playful mindset”

What is Service Design?

“…let’s be clear – service design is the design of services.

To a user, a service is simple. It’s something that helps them to do something – like learn to drive, buy a house, or become a childminder.

However, search online for service design right now and you’ll find a seemingly endless array of ‘toolkits’ and ‘design processes’. Five circled grids. Double diamonds. Mental models. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it was about the process of design, rather than changing outcomes for users.

This is changing though. Service design is moving inside organisations, and inside government. For us, service design isn’t [just] about mental models or double diamonds. It’s about working with users and delivering services.”

What to Expect – The Double Diamond Model

As this was the first Global GovJam that HeX had hosted, we were lucky to have attracted participants who were very savvy service designers, one of which had been through the Service Jam process before and was willing to share their experience.  We were walked through what feelings to expect going through the process. We were all advised to be childlike and grand in our thinking, but to be ready to have those grand ideas scrapped. The iterative process was explained using the double diamond model which was a very useful start to the session for those new to service design techniques.

“Divided into four distinct phases – Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver [or Deploy] – the Double Diamond is a simple visual map of the design process.

In all creative processes a number of possible ideas are created (‘divergent thinking’) before refining and narrowing down to the best idea (‘convergent thinking’), and this can be represented by a diamond shape. But the Double Diamond indicates that this happens twice – once to confirm the problem definition and once to create the solution. One of the greatest mistakes is to omit the left-hand diamond and end up solving the wrong problem.

In order to discover which ideas are best, the creative process is iterative. This means that ideas are developed, tested and refined a number of times, with weak ideas dropped in the process. This cycle is an essential part of good design.”

The GovJam Theme Release

Every Jam that is run by the team from planet jam starts with a theme.  It can be as random and a set of unconnected words or a series of sounds. At Global GovJam 2018, it was a sound.  This sound was played over and over (and over) whilst we tried to fathom what it could mean.

Brain Dump & Grouping Ideas

From the sound of the “theme” that had been released by the organisers, we wrote down whatever the sound bought to mind.  Frantically trying to make some sense in our brain. We shared the ideas by grouping them into similar categories and somehow came to what felt was a small conclusion.


Research was a key part of the two-day event. We created customer journeys, personas, gathered research from those with disabilities who have access needs and spoke to relevant people within the industry to get some real insight into the issues and processes behind them. The main idea behind the jam is to fail fast and fail often and to prototype as many of your ideas as quickly as possible, in order to go out and get direct user feedback. You can guarantee that your amazing ideas would be put to the test and the general public offer the perfect sounding board and are brutally honest – which is what you need.

Then we’d go around again, research, ideas, prototyping, testing. And again, until you either reach a satisfactory conclusion or literally run out of time.

Throughout the entire process, you also provide evidence of your ideas and thought processes to share with the global community, which anyone can see in the gallery of finished projects . And if you so wish, you can arrange to twin Jam with any of the other participating countries to make it a truly global experience.

WARNING: Collaborating with strangers will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy.

You quickly get to know each other, everyone’s strength shine and because of the limited time, these strengths are very quickly best utilised, forming an immense and unstoppable team in no time at all.

We received some amazing feedback from our team of participants and the experience was life-changing for those who had not been privy to service design techniques prior to attending the Global GovJam in Nottingham.

HeX also organises other events, you can check out Accessibility Nottingham here