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How to kick of organising a jam?

It's that time of the year again - for everyone who is interested in Service Design and wants to develop the community - Global Service Jam is going to kick start in less than 8 weeks time!

I got an email from the good old fellows at University of Dundee and heard the good news that there is gonna be a jam here. They asked for some advice and I realised I managed to email a little essay back in answer. If it's the first time you are about to host a jam in your city, here are some tips that you may find useful :)

First thing is always to pin down the venue, then decide how many people you'd like to invite. We use eventbrite at London, but the Shanghai jam was on an invitation only basis. Make sure you have easy wifi access in the venue and a lot of wall space to put stuff on. If you are organising it in the university it is always a good idea to use a cleared out studio not a lecture room :) See pictures of our London jam here to get a feel of how people might use the space:

Second thing is money, a.k.a who is going to pay for the drink, stationary, cleaning up afterwards, and security. At London we approach design companies to sponsor in exchange of having their logo in our website. At Shanghai it was sponsored by the university who hosted the event.You can also choose to charge a little fee, whichever way you source money, make sure you budget carefully beforehand. If you have spare, start to consider food, at London we don't supply food, because it is easy enough to find food places nearby during the weekend. Well in smaller cities, you may need to think carefully about it for the Sunday when all shops are closed. You can ask participants to bring their own food, as far as it is communicated before hand. From experience, I found it is more important to have enough water and sugary stuff (chocolate, candy, biscuits, julley beans) around to keep the energy level high. You can approach small cafe nearby to see if any would be interested in bringing in sample cakes for free or at a low price - it is an advertise moment for the business to approach students face to face :)

Turn-up rate - if you are offering FREE tickets online, expect a 20-30% drop off rates (people how get the ticket but not show up). Three ways to get around it: 
  1. sale it on a price: no need to be a high one, just a token so people will turn up because their £5 is with you. Disadvantage is that student might shy away from paid event.
  2. oversale: basically sale more than your can take, then let the drop off covered by the oversale. This option can be risky as you never know how many people will drop off and you face the possibility of crowd the room (if you have a big room then it shouldn't be an issue)
  3. have a waiting list and remind people who's got ticket to let you know they are not coming again and again in the last week of the event. People do email and say I can't come so give my ticket to someone else, so we can then issue tickets to people on the waiting list. This is what we do at London, you just need to make sure you have a person who specially handles quires like these, it can gets busy in the last 1-2 weeks.
Structure - we try to use double diamond as a design proces to structure the 48 hours so all teams are more or less in the same phase. It is up to you how much structure you want to enforce, but my advice is that if you are expecting more new to service design people, it is better to give me more support and structured process. Also have a schedule is always helpful, we normally schedule hour-by-hour for Friday evening kick off, then schedule every 3 hours during the weekend. see our schedule for last year:

User research -  Make sure you kick people out to do real user research on the street - that is always the highlight of London event, everyone loves it.

Mentor - ask around on Twitter if anyone knows anyone good to be a mentor in your city - you may find suprise! What we do here at London is that we have a person takes care of a team of 7-10 mentors (we normally estimate 7-10 teams so just enough to go around), then the mentors gets a short brief on what to expect and what to do a week before the event so they come in more prepared. Some mentor can only do half day or one day, so we have to make sure they comes in at the right time (this is where a schedule is useful!)  


Also... here's some of my experience of hosting two jams in the past blogpost... more to read if you are all fired up to host a jam > HERE 

Good Luck!




all image used are from Flickr Global Service Jam pool

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