I was looking through my Eventbrite history at the weekend. Aside from realising I’d set up over 50 events using Eventbrite 2010, I stumbled across some old memories. Events at Old Broadcasting House (ODH) for one. Amongst the others was remembering the Service Design Thinks meets that used to be at ODH.

According to Eventbrite, the first SD Thinks I went to was on 1 February 2011. At the time I was “slumming it” as an account manager/project manager, still trying to work out what I wanted to actually do after my nine-year stint at Brahm.

I was very curious about service design. I’d read Contextual Design, Change By Design, and The Design of Everyday Things in the few years before. Later in 2011 I would read Design At Your Service, the Lean Startup, and the Tipping Point. There were few books, there was the odd website and blog post to read, and there were fewer opportunities to try out service design. (If memory serves, Matt did a “walkshop” as part of the 2011 Leeds Digital Festival, but I was busy helping run the festival so didn’t make it.) But I took the opportunities when I could. It gave me the confidence to look back over my career and see I’d done a lot of this stuff before but hadn’t labelled it ‘service design’. I just tried to kick on from there.

Which brings me to the jams in Leeds.

2014 was my first jam. (I know this, because Eventbrite.) I think I’d been to the pub (the Faversham?) with Matt, Kathryn, Tim, Valentina, and a few others on sunny April day and agreed to help with GovJam. (Sun + beers + talking about an event = agreeing to help out. I need to avoid that formula more.) I wrote a post at the time.

I keep going back to help: 2018 will the fourth year in five I’ve helped with the Leeds jams (I had a year off when I landed at NHS Digital).

I keep going back to help out because I think they are amazing opportunities for others to discover service design, something I completely believe in as a Good Thing. With their focus on human-centred design, the jams allow participants to experience design thinking first hand, about finding actual problems and exploring possible solutions.

Iterating, learning by doing: exploring ideas to find what works, find what doesn’t work, learning to continually improve as the participants go along, and — hardest of all — throwing stuff that fails away.

The jams are all about trying. They are safe spaces, where participants are encouraged to not worry, to learn, to have a go, and to get out and explore their ideas with real people.

We’re doing Leeds Service Jam on Friday 9 March to Sunday 11 March. We’ll be doing it at the ever-amazing Leeds ODI.

It’s the sort of opportunity I never had back in 2011. And it’s always a pleasure never a chore to help run the jams and help those that come along. It’s always worth giving the time when months later you hear about how the jams helped someone who came along do something. That’s why I help out.

We work hard to make sure the tickets are as affordable as possible, no more than £15 for the weekend. You can get hold of one (or some!) on Eventbrite.

You can read more about Leeds Service Jam on the Leeds Service Jam blog.

Let’s keep on jamming!

By the way, I’ve even come to not hate those bloody squeaky plastic chickens. But let’s keep that between ourselves, eh.


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