How do we define the problem?

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Leeds Service Jammers 2019 get to grips with the challenge under the mentorship of volunteer, Salma

So you’ve got the theme, but what does it mean?  In groups, you will work together to frame the problem.  But how?

Govjam won’t prescribe the way in which you approach this, but we’d suggest you try having a stab at just writing a statement about what the problem is.  This blog just picks a random theme as an example, yours could be anything!

You could start by writing up your assumptions about the problem, for instance ‘people are too busy to take part in community arts events’.  You can then start to unpick it, for instance:

– which people?

– what do we mean by ‘too busy’?

– why are people busy?

– what is the impact of not attending community arts events?

You can then consider framing your question as a ‘how might we’ question, for instance:

‘how might community arts events attract people who commute away from the area?’

You can then continue to challenge it – for instance, why does it matter that the community arts events attract more people?  Is this about sustaining a community arts group?  What is the benefit of that art group anyway? 

You can use a popular technique known as the Five Whys to really get to the bottom of why your group thinks this is a problem.  It means literally asking ‘why?’ five times:

‘People are too busy to attend community arts events’


‘People have long working days’


‘People have to commute, which adds time onto the working day’


‘People think there aren’t enough job opportunities in the local community’


‘This is a small, rural community and our traditional industries are in decline’


‘Demand for those traditional products has fallen, but our local arts sector is starting to pick up’

Now you can see the question is really about sustaining a new arts economy, which puts a whole different complexion on the problem!

Up for the challenge? Book your ticket now at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/leeds-gov-jam-2019-tickets-66929037553

Jamming Across the Globe: 48 hours to save the world!

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A personal view by Salma Azfal

Have you ever found that some people approach a challenge or a problem differently? Do you wish you could tackle a problem with a range of approaches and generate lots of ideas?

Leeds Gov Jam is an amazing opportunity to experience working differently and learn new behaviours and techniques that you can use in your work and life. You won’t be alone, there are 100 plus cities all over the world trying to solve the same problem and makepublic services better. You could be one of these amazing people.

Jamming with friends

Taking part in a Jam as a participant has been an amazing experience and it gave me the confidence to write my first blog and share my experience. You can read about it –I learned ALOT in my first jam

It’s an opportunity to work outside your comfort zone with strangers who can go on to become lifelong friends, confidante or even mentors. You are given a blank canvas and with an open mind and some blue sky thinking, you can create something brilliant and magical to share with the world, either alone or as part of a self-organised team.

Pledge wall

So if you’re highly curious take the opportunity of two days of intense learning of fun, innovation, creativity – a JAM-TASTIC experience!

My takeaways from the Leeds Gov Jam experience 

#Fun – It’s a fun, high energy event, enjoy the experience and join in, you may get to experience the double diamond dance. And get to know the people who you are working with.

#Empathy – Talk to the users of your service. Walk in their shoes, understand the things that matter to them and why.

#Learnbydoing – It’s a hands on practical way of learning, asking questions, by making things, using different materials, pulling them apart and putting them together again following feedback from real people. Always ask how can I/we make this even better for you.

#Experiment – This doesn’t mean using a Bunsen burner and chemicals in a Lab. But trying different methods, if things don’t work out, don’t cry, learn from it and start again

#Prototype – Make lots of them, challenge each other on who can make the most different prototypes. Use different materials to see which one is the most user friendly, low cost and efficient. Make things, pull things apart, put them back together again , test them and break them again and learn from failure.

#Fail fast – Its ok to get it wrong at the beginning, learn from it, move on quickly and iterate based on evidence based feedback.

#Be Bold – It’s a safe environment, to take risks, learn from failures and how you can add value.

#Show not Tell – Don’t talk about your product/service or show us a PowerPoint demo- show what your services looks and feels like. Paper sketches, models, videos, photos, whatever you feel comfortable with, anything is within limits of a Jam.

#Design thinking tools – Ideation, personas, prototyping, user research, customer journey mapping, service blue print and double diamond. I had the opportunity to try out these tools and more.

#Global Jam community – the global jam community spans across over 100 cities across the world and growing! It’s an amazing network to be part of!

I love to Jam as the jam ethos is #doingnottalking. It’s a hands on practical way of how I can be more human focused in my work by applying design thinking tools and techniques, continuously improving and refreshing my skills to work in new ways.

Some participants from Leeds GovJam 2018

By jamming, I feel part of a global Jam community, always collaborating, sharing ideas, innovating and learning from each other in a creative way. It doesn’t matter what job you do, or what your background is, I’d encourage everyone to Jam. You get to work on community issues, meet loads of lovely people, play with Lego and have lots of fun why wouldn’t you want to be part of a global experience…

By working in the open, through jamming I’ve enhanced my existing skills and developed new skills that I am able to use in my policy role to work in a more engaging, connected and open way. I’ve not yet saved the world, It’s been difficult and challenging to convince others to embrace this way of working. There’s still hope as I’ve not yet given up!  

Map of worldwide Jams

Through jamming I’ve met so many wonderful and talented jammers from different walks of like that I’m still in contact with. I can’t imagine not ever being part of this community… This year I’m part of the Leeds Gov Jam organising team and look forward to welcoming and supporting jammers on the day and  beyond – in FUTURE jams.


Anyone can take part in a Jam. Are you up for the challenge to improve public sector services across the world on a global scale? Either book your ticket or gift it to a friend. Come and join us please – we wait to welcome you.


Link to tickets for Leeds Gov Jam tickets

The Theme is Revealed!

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We’ve all assembled, got a brew and are ready. The anticipation builds. The room goes quiet.
The theme is announced!

Now what?

In small groups, we’ll rapidly brainstorm what we think the theme is about. All ideas are welcome, there are no wrong ideas.
Then we’ll share them, putting them up on the wall for all to see.

We’ll all walk through the ideas as a single group, and gradually refine them into a set of ideas grouped by loose topics. Everyone can choose which topic appeals to them most (it doesn’t have to be the one you came up with!). This way, people are brought together into groups through things that interest them, and your topic group will work together over the 2 days on designing a solution to the challenge in your topic.

Sounds fun? It is!
Join us, and book your ticket at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/leeds-gov-jam-2019-tickets-66929037553

What Happens at Leeds GovJam?

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Marie Cheung (left) and Godmother of GovJam Kathryn Grace (right) inject fun into learning at GovJam in Leeds

Over the 2 days at GovJam, you will follow the design thinking process (more on this come in future blogs!).

This means working together to define a challenge and design solutions.

Overview of how things run at GovJam

Supported by expert speakers (such as Kathryn Grace pictured above) you will be presented with a general theme. From this we will work together to define specific challenges to work on as projects in small groups.

You’ll go out into town to conduct user research and to prototype your solution ideas; you’ll do some desk research and will be supported and inspired to think creatively by a team of mentors.

As you work on the projects, we will get together regularly so you can present your progress to the rest of the group and get peer feedback. You’ll be encouraged to present by showing what you have done, not telling – we want to see how it works, not hear a description of it. (Again, more on this in future blogs). We will also be sharing our work with the world by uploading to the Global GovJam site; see previous submissions here http://www.govjam.org/content/submissions-2018 .

We may also be twinjamming – this means connecting with another GovJam that is happening in another part of the world. This gives you the chance to hear about each others’ projects and take the opportunity to get input and advice from each other.

We will also provide you with lunch and plenty of brews.

We’ll be blogging more over the coming weeks to explain about how we do all these activities over the 2 days of GovJam so keep coming back to find out more!

What is GovJam Anyway?

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GovJam started in 2012 as a pilot in Australia.  It is a global, 48 hour event in which you can apply and learn about a range of techniques from the theory called ‘Design Thinking’ (more on these techniques to come in future blogs!).  If you are keen to get the details on GovJam visit http://www.govjam.org/content/about .

The idea is that you spend 2 days (don’t worry, we let you go home at night!) with a diverse group of people from a range of different workplaces and experiences.  Some of these people will be from the public sector, some won’t – the important thing is that we work in small teams to come up with new ideas for solutions to problems that the public sector is trying to tackle.

There is a fairly standard format across the 2 days based on a design process, but it’s up to your group to manage your own work.  This diagram gives you an idea of what to expect.

During the 2 days you will also have brief presentations from experts about techniques you could use at each stage, and you will be supported by some of our volunteers who will be there in a mentoring capacity.  You’ll need to work as a team and we’ll ask you share with everyone what you are working on, and to help each other out.  There might also be a ‘twinjam’ – that means we join up with a jam somewhere else in the world to share what we are working on and to offer support.

Sounds like hard work?  Well, it is, and it’s rapid.  It’s also rewarding, a great way to learn and try out new techniques in a safe space and it is FUN.

Piqued your interest? Book your ticket here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/leeds-gov-jam-2019-tickets-66929037553

Look out for our next blog which will explain more about what happens at GovJam!

Book Now for Leeds Gov Jam 2019!

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Tickets are now on sale for Leeds Gov Jam 2019. 48 hours of design thinking in practice to tackle a challenge facing the public sector.

The challenge is revealed during the jam, then work in groups to define the problem, research, generate solution ideas, prototype and test a solution. We’ll be posting more in the coming weeks about how GovJam works so you’ll know what to expect.

Visit Eventbrite to book your ticket https://www.eventbrite.com/e/leeds-gov-jam-2019-tickets-66929037553

Save the Date!

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Leeds GovJam is now scheduled for 22nd & 23rd October 2019. Two full days of design thinking and doing focussed on building innovative approaches and solutions to challenges experienced in the public sector.

Govjam is open to everybody who is interested in public services, and who wants to add their own ideas and perspectives while enjoying themselves and learning more about how the world works. Both individuals and organisations can join – you do not need experience of government or the public sector. 

The volunteer team is working on plans, and we would welcome more volunteers. If you would like to join in the running of GovJam please follow this link to apply https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdULMGLAlBGABrJIbS_G1E8HUbUK33LsMmBHVWqKHir60jOfg/viewform

We are excited to be able to run GovJam at ODI Leeds ( https://odileeds.org/ ) again, and details about booking tickets will follow soon …