User interacting with gold iPhone

Effective Thinking

What I Learned at Denver Service Jam

This past weekend, March 1-3, I participated in the Denver Service Jam, sponsored by EffectiveUI. The event was part of the Global Service Jam, a service design challenge that brought together nearly 3000 people in more than 120 cities around the world. Our goal? To concept and prototype a service around a surprise theme in just 48 hours.

Denver Service Jam 2013Following the announcement of the theme “grow” on Friday night, those of us in Denver quickly brainstormed design concepts and separated into three teams. From that point on, we worked diligently to research, refine, prototype, post and present each concept by our deadline at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 3.

Somewhere along the way we also managed to find time to Skype with our Twin Jam friends in Brazil. We had a brief Google Hangout with Kansas City Service Jam. We bonded over food and drinks, and we cracked a lot of delirious jokes.

Skyping with Brazil (Photo: Skye Sant)

By the deadline on Sunday, the teams in Denver had successfully designed and prototyped three services around the concepts of 1) furthering human potential through cross-cultural connections; 2) supporting the world’s aging population to live independently; and 3) training aspiring leaders to create a successful movement or revolution.

The weekend was a huge, inspiring success that I would gladly do all over again. If you wanted to be there but weren’t able to, or if you’re considering participating in something like this, here’s what the group shared as our key learnings:

1.  Don’t be a perfectionist with your process. Share your work early and often. You’ll get to a result more quickly.
2.  Prototype, prototype, prototype. If you’re not sure if any part of an idea will work, make a model of it.
3.  The time commitment is 100% worth it. By the end of the weekend, you will wish you had another 48 hours to further refine your ideas
4.  Doing not talking. This was a key theme announced at kickoff by the Service Jam founders. Spend more time taking direct, decisive action rather than talking about the problem and get to a clear solution faster
5.  You’ll meet a lot of smart, creative, fun people.
6.  You’ll uncover techniques and tools that you can take back to your own design process.
7.  You’ll be a little sleepy on Monday.

Special thanks to Lindsay, Rich, Mekayla and Julia, the amazing Denver Service Jam organizers for putting together a memorable weekend.

Check out our Facebook album for more photos.