Amsterdam Service Jam '17 A write-up

14 March 2017

In the weekend of 17, 18 & 19 of February, our UX designer Paul van Putten joined the Amsterdam Service Jam '17. He shares his experiences.

Day 1 Start your engines

I have the tendency to go over design solutions over and over, to make a design smarter or more focused. Sometimes, this is not very productive. It can even be lethal (as a matter of speech) when there is little time.

I think this was one of my reasons to join the Amsterdam Service Jam (again) this year. The Amsterdam Service Jam is part of the Global Service Jam: a global event where people from various disciplines join forces to develop services that ‘change the world’.

The Service Jam is both a vehicle for Service Design rookies to experience the process first hand, and for the more experienced Service Designers to hone their skills and creativity in a pressure cooker. For both, it’s a way of not having a weekend.

Because of reasons, the theme is something vague each year. It was a layout of a cardboard box some years ago. It is always presented at the end of an absurd (but hilarious) video. After the team sorting ceremony, this year’s theme video was presented. It was about jammers from the future giving tips to jammers from the present. This included make up, silver costumes and bad acting.

And the theme was:

Hello? lo? o? o.

Right.

Basically, it is just a way to get your creative juices flowing.

Because I was in a cheerful mood, from all the words that were shouted we (I) choose the words ‘Time capsule’ and ‘Pain’. The first pitch was a service to delay and save your painful moments for some other time. When it is better suited. ‘But I don’t want to talk about pain the whole weekend’. ‘But it’s about doing, not talking’. To no-one’s surprise, quite quickly we choose a more positive approach to our concept:

Capturing cheerful (chearfull) moments.

Day 2 Interviews and ideas

Next morning, we rose and shone early and in the drowsy February weather set out to interview people about their last captured moments. Where else to do this than on the trusty Nieuwmarkt? Interviewing was the first real service design ‘method’ we used. When interviewing people in an explorative way it is important to ask them about their previous and present experiences. ‘Tell me a story about the last time you captured a precious moment.’ It has no value to ask them things like ‘Would you ever use this’ or ‘Will you like a service to..’. No one can predict future behaviour. Of course, in a real conversation, these kinds of questions will slip in unintentionally. It is the designer’s job to filter out these false positives and to stay critical.

It was exciting hearing the strangers’ stories about capturing moments. A couple of insights we used as inspiration for our new service:

  • A couple helped each other to come up with details of the memory as vividly as possible. By talking about it, they relived it.
  • One girl really liked seeing photos she hadn’t seen for a long time, having forgotten about the experience altogether.
  • We were surprised hearing that by not posting the experience on social media, and keeping it to themselves/only sharing with close ones, the experience was made more special.

Interviewing on the streets

While brainstorming for ideas, it was discomforting to notice that there was no shared understanding about what we were trying to achieve. Even when we finally did have a prototype to test, it was still quite vague and experimental. But that seemed the whole point. No time for discussion, just make it! Which was a challenge, cause we wanted to ‘simulate’ remembering a moment someone had forgotten about. However, with some imagination, paper prototype magic and using people’s phone’s photo library we came a long way.

Day 3 Team power

A challenge in the service jam is to keep the concept focused and to keep unnecessary stuff out. We figured that starting to work on our end product right away, tackling gaps in the service on the fly, was the way to go. Our aim was to make a stick-figure-animated-movie to illustrate the core of the concept.

With the storyboard and the voice-over script being written at the same time, naturally there were some discrepancies between the two. This forced us to not overthink decisions, and give in more each other’s opinions. We ended up using the surroundings to our advantage: using wooden blocks as an improvised tripod and someone’s car as a sound proof recording studio. This, together with our division of labour, earned us the award for ‘team power’. Woohoo!

Insights and animations

Final thoughts

  • Because of the nature of our service it was a challenge to really get it into something you can experience. We could have spent more time exploring possibilities on Sunday morning to test the service better. However, this way we would have had less time to make an awesome video.
  • I feel it would have been good to spend a more attention to the question ‘what do we want to learn’ when prototyping. This way, your prototype really has a purpose, instead of just ‘experiencing the service’.
  • Working with people with other backgrounds put my own way of seeing things into perspective.

Our video