Latest Event Updates

Book your place for Leeds GovJam 2018

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Yes. You can now book your place for Leeds GovJam.

Taking place 5-7 June at Leeds Open Data Institute, Leeds GovJam is part of the Global GovJam. It is all about applying the tools, techniques, and mindset of service design to the public sector. But, you don’t have to be a designer or work in the public sector to get involved. If you are curious about learning by doing and making things better for people, everyone is welcome.

In just 48 hours, your team will design and test solutions to public problems. You will gain experience of co-creating a prototype. Working at pace. Designing for real people. Collaborating as part of a team. Being agile. Being creative within constraints. Innovating and having serious fun.

We hope you will join us for a collaboration and innovation event like no other.

Here is what to expect:

  • Tuesday 5 June, 6pm to 8pm: everyone gathers to discover a global theme, which is kept secret until jams all over the world have seen it
  • Wednesday 6 June, 9am to 5pm: we split into teams and work together to design and prototype new services inspired by the theme
  • Thursday 7 June, 9am to 4pm: more testing and making up to 3pm when everyone shows what they’ve made and shares their work online with a Creative Commons License

What will you design with just 48 hours to rock the public sector?

48 hours to rock the public sector

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Written by Leeds Jammer Neil Owen

22 May 2017 08:46am

I was part of the Global GovJam for two days this week. Here is my experience. #GGovJam

GovJam is a small teams of people working for two days building solutions to problems faced by the public sector. They upload their results and publish them for the world. This year there, 21 countries in 33 locations were involved. Many of them, like me, were new to GovJam.

Why I did it? A few reasons.

I would feel uncomfortable. I was a Business Analyst early in my career. A role I enjoyed almost as much as when I delivered the internal mail using a shopping trolley at the leccy board. I was keen to experience how user engagement and the design of solutions had changed. GovJam would be an opportunity to learn by doing. Finally, it was on my doorstep in Leeds.

We met between 6pm and 8pm on Tuesday at the Open Data Institute in Leeds. I felt uncomfortable. I’ve come back with some great ice-breakers (sighs from the team). We all waited patiently for the same ‘secret theme’ that each of the 33 locations would tackle.

It was basically a noise!

We wrote down, yes on post its, what came to mind. We grouped them into themes. I forgot to mention we made stick people on arrival. We all put our stick people on a theme. Met our group. Went home. Baffled.

Using stick people to self-select themes

Throughout the next 2 days, the 8 or so volunteers suggested, coached and motivated each of us to try new ways of working, change our perspectives, experiment with new ideas, collaborate with new people – learn by doing. A big thank-you to those volunteers.

When we set about defining problems for our theme, it took ages. We eventually time-boxed, tossed a coin and voted on our key problems. What about some real people that might have this problem? We could draw some ‘personas’ help us narrow down who might have the problem? Didn’t help much at this stage. We eventually, confidently, because we debated for a while, went out to talk to real people about the crucial problems we were going to solve for them. We were last out of the building.

Have you ever been approached by some stranger in the street asking ‘Errr…excuse me, do you have a minute’. Think on Neil next time you get approached. I felt very uncomfortable. And so, our problems were not problems at all.

We learnt about some potential other problems through. Did it all again. We produced a lot of work on the next problem. I’d even got on the phone to Age UK and researched some of their publications on-line. Our prototype bombed when we tested on real people in the streets again. So our next problem, well that wasn’t a problem either. And that was the end of Day 1.

Day 2 started and apparently we’d done really well. Today was about asking everyone to break their prototypes and test their problems. And we’d already done that. Good work. I think you’re getting a sense of process.

We got ourselves a problem. A problem I’ve actually experienced when I reflected on it. We had a person to sort it for. We came up with a prototype. We went out again to those people that would have the problem. And keep going. Yep we were on to something this time.

Deadline for our pitch and ‘show’ not tell to the group was 3pm. It wasn’t perfect, that was sort of the whole point. You can check it out here, along with the all the other prototypes:

Just 2 days before, 35 odd individuals (many more around the world) had a sound played to them. Now 7 teams all ‘showed’ 7 prototypes that had been tested multiple times with people on the streets of Leeds. It was fantastic to see how far people had come in just 2 days.

So what did I learn. That it wasn’t about the prototypes, the problem, who was the best – none of the ideas may ever go any further, I went into this thinking they would! And that was the point. The event was about working differently and letting go a little. In trying, we all saw the value that this can bring.

In the right environment, people are creative, innovative, driven, deliver and have fun along the way.  As someone said, they worked liked they ‘didn’t have to think about it’. And wouldn’t that be nice.

And finally, speaking of driven teams. Thank-you to our teams this week. A professional and speedy response to put in place additional security measures as we reflected on the international cyber security attacks. Many working throughout this weekend. Well done and thank-you.

Leeds #GGovJam 2017 – thank you

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Thank you, thank you, thank you

Leeds GovJam 2017 was a resounding success, so here’s to all the Jammers who showed up, got stuck in, and, 48-hours later, showed their thing! You rocked the public sector 

Team Leeds GovJam 2017
Team Leeds GovJam 2017

Thanks also to our awesome sponsors and supporters, our ever-faithful venue, ODI Leeds, and our fab mentors and facilitators who together enable this to happen. Read more about our volunteers and get in touch if you want to volunteer for the next jam.


We live tweeted at pace and Periscope’d all seven – yes, SEVEN – of the final Show Not Tell sessions as teams revealed their prototypes to the world. So, recap on our Twitter feed if you missed out.

You can also recap on this year’s secret theme…

The projects that we co-created…

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 18.52.09And, how other Jammers got on around the world, including those at this year’s HQ down under in Melbourne, over on the Global GovJam website and via 


We’ve already had a few reviews and blogs jam hot out of the blocks (see below). And, we expect more to add to this list soon if the Leeds GovJam 2017 Pledge Wall is anything to go by.  So, please do let us know if you have produced anything or seen anything and we will update this post as we receive news of more.

And, relax

BIG THANKS again to you all. We hope to see you next time around!

Regards and respect from Lisa and the 2017 volunteer team 🙂

Looking forward to Leeds GovJam 2017

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Leeds GovJam is a learning and problem solving event kicking off this week at ODI Leeds. Here, participants will form teams and collaborate rapidly in prototyping solutions to public sector problems using service design tools and techniques. Leeds GovJam brings together citizens and people working in different sectors and this diversity is key to unlocking the jam’s potential. This is because Leeds GovJam is like a music jam where people come together to make good stuff that they could not do on their own.

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Leeds GovJam is like a music jam where people come together to make good stuff…


Everyone problem-solving around a global theme

Leeds GovJam is a part of the Global GovJam, which flies around the world every year creating solutions for public sector problems like a murmuration of innovation. These solutions are designed in response to a global theme that is kept secret until jams the world over have seen it. At the end of the two days, teams upload their solutions as prototypes and documentation to the global website under a Creative Commons License. The Global GovJam is organised by WorkPlayExperience, a service innovation and customer experience consultancy, together with volunteers from around the world. The Global GovJam is a non-profit event and a huge achievement considering there is no real budget.

Having serious fun, play with a purpose

I have been volunteering for Leeds GovJam since 2014 because I am attracted by its energy, creativity and the infinite possibilities for problem solving. I love the serendipity, the cross-fertilisation and fusion of ideas made real through prototyping. I love the ambition, innovation and iteration to make things that matter better. I believe that some of the greatest problems we face in this world can only be solved by citizens and different sectors collaborating on solutions. Jams offer a safe space to work towards this greater good. Having said that, the overarching goal of the jam is serious fun, play with a purpose.

Prototyping solutions and new ways of working

Participants learn new skills by doing new things, they meet new people. Ideas and experiences collide and come together in novel ways through interactive prototyped solutions. These prototyped solutions are outputs that get uploaded to the global website. However, the most important outputs are perhaps the changes people experience during and after their jamming journey. This includes how people change the way they work and live. Plus, the relationships that people build beyond the two-day sprint.

A great leveller for inclusive innovation

Starting with people’s needs and problems is a great place to start when it comes to jamming. Equally, starting by recognising the potential of all participants to be creative and innovative is important too. I love jamming because it puts people on a level as Jammers. There is no hierarchy. It is inclusive. It is empowering. In a jam, we are all creative innovators, working on a level.

Learning by doing, doing not talking

Jammers come from different sectors, different organisations, different parts of society. What they all have in common is curiosity, an openness to learn and to be part of something bigger than themselves. Jammers have values such as ‘learning by doing’ and ‘doing not talking’. These values live large through beliefs and behaviours that underpin an energised, agile and open culture.

Being a jam volunteer has helped me to learn lots about service design, teamwork and innovation. It has also taught me the value of culture, common values and a safe space in creating movements and change.

Here’s to a GGreat Global GovJam 2017! Follow along with the fun via ‪#GGovJam

And do get in touch if you would like to help us organise Leeds jams in future 🙂

Lisa Jeffery, volunteer


Thank you to the 2017 Leeds crew

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Our sister event Leeds Service Jam took place last weekend. See their prototypes and photos here…

Leeds Service Jam

Leeds Service Jam was wonderful this weekend so we’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all the Jammers and everyone involved in making the magic happen – you are the Jam!

To the heroes at UKGovcamp, the ‘unconference’ for people interested in how the public sector does digital stuff, who also give people like us grants to put on events  – we thank you. To the brilliant service designers, innovators and lovely human beings at Stick People, Matt, Kathryn, Sharon – thank you. To the super-collaborators and open data innovators at ODI Leeds who put up with us each year in their space – thank you. To our facilitators, mentors and speakers, Emma, Tero, Linda, Lisa and Jonny, who shared knowledge and helped move the jam along at pace while having fun – thank you. To our fab jam (conserve/energy booster) supporter, Hannah at Fruity Kitchen – thank you.

Massive thanks…

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Leeds GovJam 2016 – thank you

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The Global GovJam is well and truly over for another year. So, well done Leeds GovJam Jammers. You came. You jammed. You conquered. It really is incredible when Jams take shape and ideas come to life through prototypes that are tested with users, refined and developed in a whirlwind 48-hour sprint to the final show and tell.

Well done, everyone 

You can check out all the projects that were created around the world this year over on the Global GovJam platform. You can also marvel in wonder at how Leeds Jammers realised these ace projects in just 48 hours…

Leeds GovJam 2016 projects
Leeds GovJam 2016 projects

Thank you

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors, DWP Digital Academy, Stick People and UKGovcamp, plus the amazing space that is ODI Leeds, and everyone who got involved in Leeds GovJam 2016.

Kevin Cunnington, Business Transformation Group, shows support for Leeds GovJam
Kevin Cunnington, Business Transformation Group, shows support for Leeds GovJam

Last but by no means least, we would also like to give thanks to the awesome Global GovJam HQ team for starting this thing, growing this thing, and for choosing to spend this year’s Jam in Leeds. It was lovely to have you here! 

A few reviews

Learn more about the experience of DWP Digital Academy at GovJam 2016 in this fab review film that shows Sophie, Ben, Chloe, Becky, Joe and Liz talking about user research, agile techniques, and what they thought of Leeds GovJam.

There is also this brilliant blog by original Leeds host turned Global GovJam HQ team member Matt Edgar – 10 things I learned on the Global GovJam HQ team.

“The jamming movement across the public sector has massive potential, and I have learned loads about making something happen on a shoestring at a global scale…”

And, here’s a write-up about the experience from a volunteer’s point of view by Lisa – Why I volunteer at Leeds GovJam – along with our Flickr photo gallery.

“Being a jam helper has helped me learn loads about service design, design thinking and how small acts of creativity can create bigger change over time…”

Thanks also to Emma Coppack from Digital DWP for sharing her perspective in this excellent blog – Jamming with Lego, not guitars: My experience of GovJam 2016.

“The Leeds GovJam was a wonderful experience, it showed what is possible when you get out of the office, speak to users and work in an agile and iterative way.”

We salute you

If you have a blog, write-up or thoughts to share about Leeds GovJam, please do let us know so we can link up with you in this post.

Thank you – #YouAreTheJam – we salute you!

Sharon, Liz and Lisa.

Leeds GovJam 2015 – the write-ups!

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GGovJam Leeds 2015 038

It’s lovely to see so many positive blog posts from Leeds GovJam participants. Here’s a round-up of the ones we’ve seen so far. Please let us know if you’ve also posted about Leeds GovJam so we can link to it here.

Tom Simcox – Fearless service design at Leeds GovJam:

I was amazed at how much we created in just 48 hours. GovJam is all about trying new ways of designing and collaborating with others. We did it while having lots of fun!

But we did more than that.

We discovered unmet needs of the citizens of Leeds. We started designing public services to meet them. We did it by being fearless, by going out and talking to people to find out how we could make their lives better.

Our sponsors Digital DWP also made this fantastic video diary of Tom’s Leeds GovJam experience:

Emma Browes – Jammin’:

What I particularly enjoyed was  –

Learning by doing, not talking

Keeping it fast & dirty – fail fast & iterate

Pushing forward with your minimal viable product – don’t wait for perfect

Aiming sky high – there are real opportunities to use awesome design to make a MAHOOSIVE difference to people’s lives in the public sector.  We shouldn’t aim any lower.

Liam Bolton – Leeds GovJam 2015:

As a first-time Jammer admittedly I was not sure what to expect from it all. By the end of the first day I was hugely inspired by the GovJam and the people involved. Everyone at the Leeds GovJam wanted to use their skills and knowledge to bring about people-centred change to public services through creative service design. It was also a lot of fun! Taking part was personally a huge privilege.

Simon Wilson – Leeds GovJam 2015: in just three points:

After Leeds GovJam on Thursday evening I wrote those points down. In short I felt Leeds GovJam was so good! I might have been getting carried away, rose-tinted specs, and all that. I held back from bashing this out quickly, to get it out as soon after the event as possible. Let it settle a bit…

My thoughts on GovJam are settled though. I think it’s one of the few events I’ve been to where just about everything seemed to click.

Matt Edgar – Thanks, everyone! We just rocked the public sector:

Stand-out moments for me (sorry if this is one of those “you had to be there” posts 🙂

* Seeing a full house for the Tuesday evening kick-off
* Ben Holliday’s powerful talk about doing user-centred design at DWP
* Stick-figure voting to organise the project teams
* Handing out new-style jam passports including 10 service design methods to try
* Watching the space empty out on Wednesday morning as teams headed into Leeds to do their first round of user research

Kathryn Grace – Leeds GovJam 2015 and the follow-up Understanding and sharing the problem… finding opportunities:

…when Tom Riordan CEO of Leeds City Council did his little talk on engaging with service design and design thinking, and then a council worker talked about council interest in their service prototype in their final presentation… tears of joy over flowed. It was my Martin Luther King moment… I had a dream – Thank goodness it wasn’t just me… we all shared it in some way at Leeds GovJam this week – we wanted to rock the public sector and we did.