Recently, Corey Kelley, The Expo Group’s VP of Technology and Process traveled to Pittsburgh to participate in the annual Global Service Jam, a 48-hour event that highlights the value of service design. The Exposure sat down with Corey to get his thoughts on the event and find out what he learned.
THE EXPOSURE: First off, what is this Global Service Jam and how did you find out about it?
Corey: The Global Service Jam is a 3-day event where people from different industries get together at different “host” locations throughout the world to solve a service design challenge. I found out about it through MAYA, a human-behavorial design firm based in Pittsburgh that works with The Expo Group. Consequently, I attended the GSJ at MAYA in Pittsburgh.
NOTE: MAYA worked with The Expo Group on the extraordinary Invisible Exhibitor and Invisible Attendee White Papers.
Corey Kelley and his teammates ready to fill up that white board.
THE EXPOSURE What was the challenge this year?
Corey: Ha – part of the challenge was figuring out what the challenge was. In the past, the challenge has been more concrete – something of substance. This year, the challenge was revealed to us via sound. Not a word or a problem – just a sound . The interpretation of the sound was up to your group. We interpreted it as the sound of a rock or stone being dropped into a pond. One thing we espoused from the start was that the ability to embrace ambiguity is essential to good service design – don’t go immediately into problem-solving mode. That led to a lot of whitespace and brainstorming to allow each team member to generate ideas and work out areas to try.
THE EXPOSURE: So it sounds like this was a chance to really embrace the power of brainstorming. Did you learn any techniques?
Corey: Sure – since we were all pretty much strangers, we used improv games to break the ice like, “Yes and..” where you build upon other people’s ideas with no negativity. This was used to get positive vibes flowing and put everyone in a comfort zone in order to bring about collaborative ideas. And of course, the white board came in handy – you’ve never seen whiteboards until you’ve been to MAYA – they’re everywhere! One of the simple yet useful techniques we used is called Rose-Bud-Thorn – it’s used to highlight the bright spots of an idea (Rose), the pain points (Thorn) and the possibilities on the horizon (Bud). And of course we also created paper prototypes, did field surveys, made props and role-played to really bring ideas to life – all in a “jam” packed weekend.
Just two of many white boards filled with ideas.
THE EXPOSURE: What did your team come up with based off just a sound?
Corey: The sound clue reminded us of a rock being thrown into a creek or pond. That, in turn, reminded us of skipping rocks. Skipping rocks took us down a path of times when we connect deeper with friends and family – like when we’re skipping rocks with our family. Yes, I know it’s a stretch, but stay with me. Ultimately, we decided to create an app that would help to forge deeper relationships with people we choose to have relationships with – aka “Kerplunk”. Kerplunk allows you to dive deeper into relationships by facilitating face-to-face interactions among friends, helping them to get out of superficial online-only interaction – it comes with a relationship health meter and is automated to suggest meet-ups, etc. We thought the app would have been great in real life, but in reality, Global Service Jam is more about the journey than the actual solution. Although I really do like that name. Kerplunk. Turns out it was a game created in the 60’s?
THE EXPOSURE: I don’t think I’ve played it but that’s a great name. What is your biggest take-away from this event?
Corey: Definitely the relationships I was able to form with the amazing MAYA designers and the GSJ attendees – now if I only had the Kerplunk app to measure these relationships! Aside from that, the opportunity to apply collaborative problem solving techniques with people from different backgrounds and different industries was a lot of fun – everyone brought a completely different skill set. We utilize a lot of human-centered design techniques here at The Expo Group, whether it’s for our customer journeys or our software designs, so the tools weren’t necessarily new. However, doing this with a team of strangers brought about a different approach that definitely translates internally into what I think will be even stronger collaboration efforts. With that said, I think another big take-away would have to be the practice of getting ideas out of your head and onto the wall, no matter how ridiculous they might be. Along those same lines, “stop talking and start making” – it’s easy to forget this when you’re trying to create a nirvana solution – creating the perfect solution without feedback has a high rate of failure. So having the opportunity to apply rapid prototyping and getting feedback early in the process was a nice takeaway as well.
Corey Kelley is The Expo Group’s VP of Technology and Process and is looking to buy an original Kerplunk game off Ebay.
You can find more information about Global Service Jam here.