Saturday, December 31, 2011

Newer beginnings

I often end up back to the Global Sustainability Jam weekend when talking to people about what I’m up to.

The Jam is a weekend developing a concept for a service, and a pitch for it, following an abridged service design methodology.  It was a great fun weekend, meeting a lot of interesting new people.

More than that, personally, it was an eye opener.  We may not have reinvented the wheel, but we did do things so far beyond what I’m used to that we may well have reinvented me.  It may not have happened overnight - but it has certainly catalysed a process akin to some pretty magnificent shampoo.

This process may speak more to my experience and employment than anything else.  My current employer, the state audit office, has offered great experience, but I don’t think it’s a very conducive environment to further growth or - at this stage at least - effectively creating value.  It is a deathly quiet environment, extremely product-focussed and in my experience largely anti-collaborative - not conducive to the sorts of skills I need to work on.  It is hierarchical and bureaucratic despite its size, and while at the local level there is lots of freedom with the work, it is difficult to generate value more freely.    It is also driven according to processes made to maximise vertical accountability and minimise risk, which don't necessarily deliver on value.

As someone relatively intellectual, analytical and mathematically trained, who prefers to work independently, it could almost be a perfect fit.  Indeed, if I hadn’t had a few Jam-like experiences over the last couple of years it would seem natural to me, and I might never have seen the light of day.

There were a few components of the Jam that made me sit up and ask whether the world really needs to be like that - almost in shock...

We worked together - collaborative working.  You know, a group of people working together towards a somewhat common idea, making decisions based on discussion and agreement, sharing and testing ideas, contributing where we could.  No signoffs or boundaries around our roles!
We just did it - we worked with things for long enough to be able to give them a crack, prototyped, and refined.  It didn’t matter if they weren’t perfect the first time round, or we didn’t elaborate plans to mitigate the risks of uncertainty.  We did it, and learnt more by trialling than we would have by analysing it all to death
I could do it - the biggest surprise was not so much that it was possible to work differently, but that I was able to!

And I liked it!

John Baxter


  1. You should come to the next Global Service Jam 24-26 Feb 2012!

  2. Thanks for this great post - and thank YOU for Jamming!

    Global Service Jam & Global Sustainability Jam