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This is the archive site of Global Gov Jam 2011-2018. From 2019 on please visit



This May, people interested in public sector services will meet in locations dotted around the globe.

They will be public servants, designers, students, academics, business people, service users, mums, kids and grand-dads.

In a spirit of experimentation, innovation, co-operation and friendly competition, teams will have less than 48 hours to develop and prototype completely new public sector services inspired by a shared theme.  At the end of the Jam, their collection of brand new services will be published to the world.

What a Jam is...

Imagine a Jam session in music. You come together, bringing your instruments, your skills, your open mind.  Someone sets up a theme, and you start to Jam around it. You don't overanalyse it, you don't discuss it to death, you Jam. You bounce your ideas off other people, and play around with what comes back. Together, you build something which none of you could have built alone. And at the same time, you are learning new ideas, discovering more about how you work and whom you best work with, sharpening your skills, and having a great time. And who knows, maybe there are one or two ideas there which might make it to the next album. Or maybe you Jammed so well, you decide to form a band...

The GovJam works in just the same way. But it's not music you are Jamming - it's prototypes of services. You'll be working with people you might never have met before, bouncing ideas off one another and building on what bounces back. You will start by researching real needs with real people, moving quickly through an ideation phase before turning your ideas into a concrete design, prototype and plan of action which you or somebody else might want to grow further. Can you prototype and plan it in a way that someone could go out and take the next steps, knowing what resources they would need, what they should do, and who they should talk to?  That's the challenge of the Jam.

What a Jam isn't... 

We love conferences. But a Jam isn't one of those. You are not here to lecture, or to listen, or just talk (though some local Jams might include some theory input). You are here to work together, to design and plan something which has the potential to become real.

We love networking groups and "design drinks". But a Jam isn't one of those. You're not here to show off your skills, to chat about what's happening in your field (although those things might happen). You'll be making contacts and sharing knowledge in the best possible way - by actually working through ideas, plans and problems together.

We love discussion groups, barcamps and unconferences. But a Jam isn't one of those. Although the Jam might be free form, there is a clear goal for the weekend - functioning interactive prototypes which have the potential to become real, and which will be published to the world at the end of the weekend.

We love start-up events. But a Jam isn't one of those. A Jam is at the beginning of an innovation cycle, and you will working with strangers. You might not want to start a business with them on Monday morning, your idea might not even be viable yet - but that's OK! A thriving start-up is a possible outcome of a Jam, but it's certainly not the goal. Put another way, a musician does not go to a Jam to record an album - that's what a studio is for.


(If you live in a country where the working week is not Monday to Friday, your Jam might be on different days.)  

Please note the main days of the Jam in most countries are Wednesday 17 May and Thursday 18 May.
The Tuesday afternoon session is a "recommended extra"!  Please do not plan to Jam all day on Tuesday.  
Have fun!

TUESDAY 16 May, afternoon (some locations)

The Jam participants come together at locations prepared by local organisers.
(Some Jams choose to start on Wednesday instead, but have the same closing deadline.)


TUESDAY 16 May, after 3 pm local

(Some Jams do this on Wednesday morning)
The secret Theme for the Jam is presented.  Discussion in informal groups. . Brainstorming around the Theme looking for great starting points (usually a question, not an idea). Groups form, and participants join a group that interests them. All Jammers regsiter online at Dinner is nice.

WEDNESDAY 17 May, about 9 am local; until THURSDAY 18 May, 3pm local 

Local Jams work independently, supported by Mentors and Specialist Providers in some locations. The level of facilitation is the choice of the local Hosts. Specialists from around the globe or locally might give valuable tool input in the form of video messages or live workshops.  Research or observations are performed virtually, or through short excursions. The teams develop their service design and prototype it using whatever methods they choose. Sleep is optional, but recommended.

The main activities of the Jam are qualitative research and prototyping - not discussing ideas or concepts, but building fiunctioning prototypes. Teams will work on several iterations of a functioning prototype of a new service, testing it again and again to challenge their assumptions. As they go, the document their process and upload it, sharing it with the rest of the Jam on line.

The Jams around the world are in contact through social media, wormholes, carrier pigeons or whatever else we set up. Share, exchange, inspire. But remember - it is deeply Cheesy and Uncool to communicate the Secret Theme to teams to the West of you. For a level playing field, themes are announced and Jams start and  finish at LOCAL times...

Around Thursday morning, teams may face the fearful feedback of a Dragon's Den - then work like crazy to adjust and complete their work.

THURSDAY 18 May, 3pm local at the latest

The teams finish uploading documentation of a working prototype.  This will be many files, and can include a film of human interaction, photos of a mock-up, a dummy or working website, tangible aspects of a service (forms, tickets, contracts, policy documents, RFTs, funding pitches), budgets, business models or anything else that provides a permanent, publishable record of their idea and work. These are uploaded and published for the world under Creative Commons licensing.

After publishing, the teams might present their results to the other local teams.  Perhaps there could be some symbolic prizes... 

After that, teams can sit back, kick back, enjoy a well-earned beverage and browse through the international results. Or they can get busy supporting teams further to the west...


Jamming offers a high-energy, massively diverse environment which focusses firmly on doing, not talking. By moving through a common innovation process, participants move away from well-trodden paths, building on each other's ideas to take practical, constructive steps towards novel solutions.

The results of a Jam are twofold: 

  • Concrete output will be in the form of prototypes – preferably funtioning, interactive ones. These might be might be click models or working dummies of new software or digital platforms; policy documents in an actionable or decidable form; change initiatives supported by research and concrete plans of action; non-digital services represented by artifacts, walkthroughs, draft contacts etc; and of course things we have not thought of yet.

  • Equally valuable intangible outcomes will be in experiencing diverse ideas and new working methods, building real connections to people in the same team, between public services and citizens, or to people on the other side of the world - and in seeing how a structured innovation process can produce robust, concrete and human-centered results even in just 48 hours. We will also have a great time while getting a lot of work done.



As the Jam grows, so does the FAQ. Here are some more things you should know.


Awesome, but is this only for "service designers" and gov employees?

No. Anyone can take part. You just need to be interested in services or creativity, and have an open, enquiring mind.

You might be a service designer, a gov person, a public employee, an academic, a citizen, a student, a customer experience person, a UX ninja, a patient, a prime minister, someone in the public service frontline, unemployed, an actor, an artist, a doctor, a grandparent or a kid.



Can there be a GovJam without any Gov people involved?
A Jam with no gov folks can work, but it's more challenging to be "real", and certainly less useful. Remember, "gov" people need not work in "government", they work for us all. They might be public service "administration and policy" people, but also public workers like teachers, police, nurses, judges, tax guys, road sweepers... Why not reach out to them.



Wait, this Jam is on weekdays?  Why?

Well spotted. :) The other Jams in the family - Global Service Jam and Global Sustainability Jam - are on weekends. But GovJam addresses a different audience and has a different, more professional vibe. A GovJam is much more powerful when public servants work alongside the citizens, design people and other innovators who are the typical audience of the "big two" Global Jams. Now, for many of these "gov" people, this is work, so we think it is fair thatwe meet on working days in a format which can be run "from 9 to 5". 

Also, we have two other Jams a year which are on weekends - and some people (especially ones with childcare issues) ask for those to be on weekdays. So with the GovJam on weekdays, everyone has a choice. :)



But why should I participate?

As a participant in the Global GovJam, you will work through a whole design process in one weekend. Whether you are experienced or completely new to the field, you won't just be talking about creating or improving public services, you will be working with others on developing concrete ideas and designs which could become real.


  • You will learn more about a design-based approach to problems, and about public services.

  • You will do something for others, helping the public sector to better understand the public - and vice versa.

  • You will pick up a load of new ideas and work practices.

  • You will meet a lot of cool people at all levels of experience.

  • If you are a public sector worker, you will be able to pick up and try our new techniques in an environment where there is no "hard sell".

  • Your work and ideas will be reviewed by your peers, and presented to the world, where they can be seen by potential employers, or people who could make them real.

  • You will design something that might become reality.

  • You might get rich and famous. But probably not.

  • You will certainly have a great time.



Can you say more about what we will actually create at the Jam?

That's really up to you.

Our basic field for this event is "public sector services", but we will give you a specific Theme on the Friday night which we hope will inspire and challenge you. (This is why it's important not to bring an idea to the Jam - instead, let ideas happen when you are there).  As soon as you have the Theme, you can get busy...
Be prepared that these ideas are just the starting point. At a Jam, we move past ideas fast to create functional prototypes, which are far more powerful, robust and testable than any "idea" or "concept".

You might be intereted in a certain toolset or approach, or be interested in public services in a particular field, or something we have not thought of yet. Whatever your interest, we are sure you will find a place for it. But remember, the projects and prototypes you work on are only part of what the Jam creates. You will also create the experience of challenging yourself, learning new tools and sharing yours, discovering new ways to work together and meeting new collaborators. These "outcomes" of the Jam are just as valuable as the project "outputs"... perhaps more so!



Cool, so where is my nearest Jam?

To find out, just check the "locations" tab. If it's not visible yet, come back in a few days. :)  And remember, we are adding new Jams all the time.



Fine, but if I participate, what must I do?

Read the rules for participants. In essence they say:

  • Sign up in advance at the location of your choice. Your local host will organise this.

  • People are already talking about the Jam, so you should follow the Jam on Twitter (#GGovJam) and on Facebook.

  • Show up on time.

  • Bring any special tools you need.

  • Do not bring a team or an idea. These will form at the Jam. 

  • Do not bring pre-made content. The services developed at the Jam should be new. 

  • Work together in a spirit of conversation and co-operation. Don't bring an agenda.

  • During the Jam, do not communicate the themes to any Jam in a timezone which does not know them yet... This is Deeply Cheesy, as themes are announced at local times. Be helpful but be secretive.

  • Be willing to share the results of your work under a Creative Commons license. This will involve signing up on a global sharing platform. This signup can be anonymous, but you will have to use a working email connection. But why be anonymous? Jamming is about connecting to other Jammers...

  • Have fun!



Grrr! There's no Jam in my area. What should I do?

Option 1: Hey, you're a pioneer! Let us know you're interested, and we'll help you find other people in your area. Better still - why not become a local organiser and start this in your region? Learn more here.

Option 2: Travel! Seeing the world and meeting new people gives you the chance to learn even more. Check the list of locations again for a suitable region.



Hmm. What about being a local organiser?

As a local Jam organiser, you will host a great weekend, helping others learn about a design-based approach to creativity and problem solving, and about service design.

  • You will meet people from your region who are interested in a design-based approach, in service and customer experience, and work closely with them.

  • You will be in contact with other organisers globally, all of whom will be worth knowing.

  • You will pick up a load of new ideas and work practices.

  • You will meet a lot of cool people at all levels of experience.

  • You will have the opportunity to showcase your own experience, interests and ideas with participants and the press - but don't see the Jam as an advertising opportunity, because it isn't. Be useful, be cool, be present. That's enough advertising.

  • You will have great freedom to organise and shape your local jam as you wish, as long as a few basic guidelines are observed.

  • You will not get rich (the Global GovJam is non-profit), but you might get famous.

  • You will certainly have a blast. :)


If I become a local organiser, what support do I get? How much does it cost?

There is no fee for hosting a Jam, it's free!

The Global GovJam is a volunteer event with a staff of no-one and a budget of nearly nothing. There is a cocreated Jam handbook for all Hosts, but most support is through the Host's Community.

  • Need some ideas or advice on your process? Ask the Community.
  • Need some graphics for publicity or tools for Jamming? Ask the Community.
  • Need some support or a helping hand? Ask the Community.

When your Jam is registered, you will be connected to an online Community of Hosts like you. We usually call it "Basecamp". Some people there will be first-timers, some will be experienced experts, They can all help you, and you can help them. We have seen it again and again: active participation in the Host Community is the best guarantee of a good Jam. So use it! :)



I'm interested in being a host, but what does a local organiser have to do?

Read the rules for local organisers. In essence they say:

  • Look for and set up a suitable location for the Jam (workspace, connectivity, physical requirements, sponsorship if you want).

  • Name your Jam after your city or town, or give it a neutral name; don't name it after your region or country... 

  • Be open to everyone.

  • Handle registrations and participant lists (this can be as simple as a Facebook page...)

  • Be part of the organisers' community.

  • Be non-profit. (This includes: don't see the Jam as an advertising vehicle. Be useful, be cool, be present. That's enough advertising.)

  • Don't give your Jam a local theme.

  • During the Jam, do not communicate the themes to any Jam in a timezone which does not know them yet... This is Deeply Cheesy, as themes are announced at local times. Be helpful but be secretive.

  • Police the rules, keep the deadlines.

  • Publicise your event, and publish the results.

  • Have fun!

    Remember, there is a whole Jam community to support you - and a useful Handbook for Jam organisers. You'll find it (and a lot of other useful material) at the Organiser's Basecamp. Contact us for details.


YES! I want to try to host a Jam! How do I become an official local organiser?

Simply shoot us an email marked "I want to host!", tell us who you are, where you are located and we take it from there! (You don't need to have a location yet, you don't need a webpage set up or anything else - just be ready to try! Your first task will probably be gathering names, to see how big your Jam might get.  We think you'll find it useful to set up some kind of regisitration or group administration - maybe a dedicated webpage if you are a web ninja, or a mailing list, Facebook page, Yahoo Group or whatever if you are not. You can expand your online presence later....)


Hmm... I'm interested in the Jam, but not yet ready to be an organiser. What can I do?

If you want to participate in a jam locally, but are not ready to commit to hosting, that's no problem. Tell us, and we can list you as "interested" for your region. The more people sign up, the easier it becomes to get a Jam rolling! Just shoot us an email marked "I'm interested!", tell us who you are, where you are located and we take it from there! We will probably suggest you list an "Interest group" instead of  Jam for your city, and see who shows up.



Let's see. What does a good Jam location need?

A Jam needs a physical location, organised by the host, where the Jam takes place. It might be an office, university, sports hall, appartment, boat, tent or taxicab. It will need enough space to host the Jam, sufficient heat, light, power, connectivity, some physical comforts and toilets. It would be good if food were available nearby - from a supermarket, restaurant or pizza guy, or even organised by the host. It will need to be accessible (or partly accessible) for the whole 48 hours* - the Jam is a global event, and the buzz goes round the clock.

If you want to encourage Jammers to make prototypes of physical things, you might want to have part of the space where they can make a mess, play with glue, use a hammer...

You do not need to find your location before you agree to host the Jam, but it might be good to have some ideas for different sized spaces. When you see how many people your Jam attracts, you can decide which one to use.

* Note: If you cannot find a Jam location that is open around the clock, don't panic - this will not disqualify your Jam. However, experience shows that a 24-hour-open location is much more fun, especially for larger Jams.



My team is thinking about focussing our Jam on a certain issue or project. Is that cool?

Every Jam should be open for any ideas.  Remember,  "Do not bring a team or an idea. These will form at the Jam."

So if someone is interested in a particular issue, they should go to a Jam, pitch an amazing new idea aimed at that issue, and hope a team forms.  Or they should join a Team addressing a similar issue. Or they should shrug their shoulders and join something completely different which is also cool in some way.

A Jam which is set up to specifically address a certain theme, or which is set up by a group who specifically want to work together, is not truly open to all people and all ideas, so it breaks the rule above. It's a mighty, wonderful and cool thing in itself, but it's a workgroup, not a Jam. Do it the weekend after.  :)

To follow the music metaphor, going along to an open stage with all your musician friends and a decision to only play Bob Dylan songs is not jamming, it's a public rehearsal.

So, no themed Jams please! :)



OK, so are all local Jams the same?

No. Local organisers have a lot of freedom to shape and run the Jam, and to decide the local look and feel (a simple example: local Jams are encouraged to to create local versions of the logo). Participants chose their project, choose thier team, and have full freedom to decide on the methods they use. They also decide on the form of their final upload.

All Jams will follow the same rules and be inspired by the same themes. The rest is up to you.



Right. So how big is a Jam?

A jam will need to be at least one team. We think that means a minimum size of about five people, but you might prove us wrong. The more teams, the more fun. About fifteen or twenty people seems to be a nice size for a small Jam, thirty or forty has a great vibe. There is no upper limit to the size of a Jam. Similar events have been successful with 250 people at one location - it depends on the site, and the local organisation.



Seems like a good opportunity for me to advertise my services or agency, right?

Yes and no.

If you are an organiser, we think the best way to advertise yourself is by being useful, being present, and being you. We think it's cool if, for example, a Jam is held in an agency office, and the agency people really get involved.  But we don't think it's cool if any local Jam is heavily "branded" by the organisers.  We think a "Work•Play•Experience Jam" would be deeply cheesy - a Jam is supposed to be open, and putting our logo everywhere would only make other agency guests uncomfortable.

You're a host, so think of it as a party. Would you write your name on every wall?

Banners, balloons, bowls of visiting cards - OK.  But from your sponsors (if they insist), not from the host.

Please do not put your agency's name or branding in your Jam's name or logo.  It is great to show your own branding with your sponsors' branding, but please not in the logo area or name. Your logo might reflect your town, your country or anything you like, but not your commercial brand.  Keep the Jam open please! Thanks!



So, what is the Theme for the Jam?

Shhh!  That's a secret!

Of course, the overarching theme of the Jam is public sector services - but there will be a special Secret Theme for the weekend too.  This Secret Theme will carefully chosen by representatives of the worldwide organising team, and kept Top Secret until it is announced on the Friday evening (local time) in each location.

We expect the Theme will be quite abstract, to allow a wide range of practical applications, depending on the participants' interests.

Here's an example from the Global Service Jam.  One year, it had the theme: "(Super)HEROES".  The participants interpreted it in many different ways, producing many different types of services based on sharing, helping, empowerment, or even super-powers.

The Theme of one Global Sustainability Jam (our sister event) was "PLAYGROUNDS", so participants developed lots of projects about play, education, and the use and redefinition of public spaces.  The Themes are sometimes sounds, images, even activity instructions. Let us surprise you!

The Global GovJam is more about tools, methods, people, ideas and exchange than any particular field of application.



Stop! Imposter! Someone is trying to host another Jam in my country/city/building! What do I do?

There is no exclusivity of Jams.  Anyone who wants to Host, and is willing to follow the rules, is welcome to host.

However, we think that - because the Jam is about sharing - bigger Jams are cooler than smaller Jams.  So if two Jams are happening close together, the obvious question is "why?"

Cool reasons for having two Jams in the same place are:

  • we tried, but can't find a venue big enough to house us all

  • we already booked one venue, and can't cancel

  • our location is way too cool to give up, but we have more people than we can fit in

  • we may look close together, but the distance between us is significant for some local market reason like transport connections, zombie infestations, etc

  • we really, honestly believe small jams work better

Horrible cheesy reasons for two jams in the same place are:

  • we want to be exclusive

  • we don't like the other people

  • we want to use the Jam to show off or advertise our organisation, and we don't want our competitors to be close by! (well, that's not especially cheesy, but it is not very "Jammy". And it's a bit sad if you think having the other guy in the same room will stop you from looking cool)

  • we want to work in a certain way or on a certain theme (well, that's not cheesy, but it's not Jamming either)

But at the end, it's up to each local host to deside if they go it alone, or merge with the neighbours. If you go it alone, we hope you will communicate and cooperate in every way!

(And we will need to find a fair solution on the names... we suggest "XYZ GovJam LOCATION"  eg Bratwurst GovJam Nuernberg and Castle GovJam Nuernberg. If you can't agree, Global HQ will help you decide. ;) )



What should I call my Jam? Can I have a logo?

We need to approve the name of your Jam and your local logo (if you want one) before you use it.  

Logos: Local Jams can use the Global GovJam Logo, or make their own local version. All local logos must have a clear, visible link to the global logo, so everyone can see that the various Jams are part of the same event. 

Names: It is best to choose name which gives an indication of the location city, town, or village of your Jam, like Copenhagen GovJam or Public Service Jam København. But fantasy names are also cool and fun, like Viking GovJam or Little Mermaid GovJam.  There are just a few restrictions:

  • Please use the word "Jam" in your name.

  • We suggest you use the word "Gov", "Public Service" or something similar in the Jam name, but this is not compulsory.

  • Please do not use the word "Global" or any similar word in your name.

  • Please do not use any organisational branding in your name. This also applies to non-profits.

  • Please do not use any name which includes an area, territory or country bigger than your town.  Copenhagen Jam is cool, but Scandinavian Jam, Sjaelland Jam, or Denmark Jam are not allowed. There is no level of organisation between the local Jam and the Global Jam.