By Ezequiel Williams
This year Miami will join the Global GovJam, a global workshop focused on making government more innovative and user-friendly, for the first time. On June 10 - 11 Miami GovJam participants will join people in 37 other cities around the world in a global event aimed at teaching and practicing innovation techniques to government workers and people passionate about civic life.
The GovJam movement started in Canberra, Australia in 2012 with a group of 80 people. In the months that followed the same people were inspired to scope or launch over a dozen innovative public projects as a result of the event. In 2013 innovation consultants Markus Hormess and Adam Lawrence of WorkPlayExperience took the event global, bringing close to 30 cities on board. The Global GovJam is now a growing, volunteer-run event aimed at bringing together people around the world to learn innovative problem-solving skills and techniques aimed at making government services more responsive and user-friendly.
In the past two years the the GovJam has attracted several senior civil servants, city mayors, the head of the UK’s Cabinet Office Policy Lab, and the Australian Federal Minister (assisting) for industry, innovation and tertiary education. The Australian government has since used the event format for training and policy development. The 2013 Paris GovJam took place in the office of the Prime Minister of France.
The Miami GovJam offers local government workers and other professionals the opportunity to learn and practice design thinking techniques applicable to government in a hands-on, project-driven workshop. Participants, also known as GovJammers, will work in small teams around a common design theme for the purpose of conceiving, designing, and prototyping a new public service that is responsive and user-friendly. Jammers will publish short videos of their prototypes on the Global GovJam website under a Creative Commons license to widely share their projects.
Design thinking is a method of creative problem solving that focuses on creating innovative solutions that are user-friendly, efficient, and responsive to people’s real needs. This approach has gained significant traction in the private, public, and education sectors in the last decade. The government in the United Kingdom routinely uses design thinking for problem-solving, and Australia's Taxation Office, their equivalent to the IRS, has successfully employed design thinking to maker their services more accessible and user-friendly for its constituents. Several U.S. Federal Government agencies have begun to incorporate design thinking in their work in the past five years, including the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, FEMA, and Veterans Affairs.
Far from being a novelty, organizations that are serious about employing design thinking at the core of their operations show substantial positive results. The Design Management Institute, with funding from Microsoft, is tracking the performance of U.S. companies that employ design thinking at the core of their business strategy. Results show that companies like Apple, Target, IBM, Coca-Cola and other design-centric companies have outperformed the S&P 500 by as much as 219% in the last 10 years.
Employing design thinking practices in local government in Miami could yield tangible results in terms of cost reduction, increased customer satisfaction and revenues. The Miami GovJam will offer Miamians a chance to get connected with a global community, learn design thinking tools and methods, build their creative confidence, network with colleagues from other governments and agencies, and sharpen their ability to innovate and make a measurable difference in the public sector.
The Miami GovJam volunteer hosts are Siggi Bachmann, Creative Director of the New World Symphony, Vassoula Vassiliou, branding consultant and President of the AIGA, and Ezequiel Williams, co-founder and Chief Insights Officer of Contexto, a service design and innovation consultancy.
Ezequiel Williams is an entrepreneur, business designer, and co-founder of Contexto. You can connect with him on Twitter @ContextoTweets.
L.A. GovJammers testing prototypes with citizens on the street. Photo courtesy of Global GovJam