GovJam Birmingham – June 2016
Alastair Henbrey and Laura Slatcher are Senior Business Analysts with the Requirements Management team in Service Birmingham. In June they attended GovJam, a global event held in 32 cities across 5 continents.
Inspired by the secret theme (see video above) we embarked on a 48-hour journey of creativity and insight. Working from Impact Hub in Digbeth with people we had never met, we were split across two teams to collaborate on our interpretation of the theme – and relating this to local issues. By the end of the two days we had gone from formulating our idea to pitching a prototype.
Our two team’s ideas were around trust and belonging. The ideas were developed through the insight gathered from Birmingham’s citizens, visitors and businesses. If the idea failed, we worked quickly to adapt it and then tested it again.
Led by Chris Sadler and Daniel Blyden of Spaghetti Jams, we also learnt theory around design thinking. This supported our collaborative process in understanding the needs of our city and turning this, at pace, into something to meet that demand.
The collaboration wasn’t just locally bound; we had Skype calls with the jammers in Leeds and Brazil to find out what they were working on and pitch our ideas for feedback.
Laura’s reflections –
Laura’s team looked at belonging, and how might a person feel that they belong. After a first trip out to speak to Birmingham’s people (and getting over the fear of stopping strangers in the street), we adapted this to belonging in the workplace.
We pulled together a prototype, a cardboard smartphone to show how an individual may want to access information and advice on the less formal and spoken about aspects of belonging in the workplace – ‘how things are done around here’. A few iterations later, following valuable insight into how citizens and businesses would want to use the application, we had our final prototype ready to be taken forward with more formal user testing.
Critically, GovJam provides a space where it’s safe to fail and try again, and in fact this is part of the experience in really listening to the views and needs of the city. I’ve come away with some new contacts, and tools and techniques to apply in my day job for understanding user needs. But most importantly, I came away with a sense of achievement in developing an idea so quickly. Collaborating and listening to the views of our city are so important in ensuring that services are delivered to meet the needs of citizens, and the hands-on approach of GovJam emphasises this and challenged my thinking and my assumptions.
Alastair’s reflections –
Alastair’s team looked at trust, and how it can be built and lost. An initial vox pop at the coach station and the HMV institute revealed (counter intuitively) that the quickest way to get trust was to lie! We decided that this wasn’t the best basis for an idea, so refined our objective to looking at building trust between individuals and organisations.
Our initial prototype was a Lego based extravaganza of architecture, featuring bespoke collaborative and interactive spaces but with the drawback of being quite difficult to move. Following feedback from fellow jammers and potential users, we moved to a ‘toolkit’ approach that retained the principles of using space but could be delivered in different scenarios and supported by individual and peer reflections. We ended up with the foundations of something potentially appealing and it would be interesting to see where it could go.
Having experience of the prototyping process already, I was most interested in the collaborative element of the jam, bringing together people from different backgrounds and knowledge under a common theme. The approach of ‘doing not talking’ was also a refreshing way delivering something from idea to testing in a short space of time.