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Because of the first Service Jam in Tehran, we got a chance to have an interview with Adam StJohan Lawrence and Markus Edgar Hormeß, the initiators of the Global Service Jam. Here you will read the first part of our interview around jam.

The second part will focus on the topics about service design and Adam and Markus’ programs in service design community.

This interview has been done in Feb. 17 2012, via Skype.



-               Please tell us about yourself, your background and major.


interview with Adam Lawrence and Markus Hormeß

Markus Edgar Hormeß


Markus: As my background, I am a scientist in solid physics, theoretical physics and process design but switched into business consulting after the university. In my spare time I usually try to take part in a music band and play on stage. I also worked with companies holding big events.


interview with Adam Lawrence and Markus Hormeß

Adam StJohan Lawrence


Adam: Like Markus, I am also a scientist. My background is psychology and zoology. I was a specialist in animal behavior in the university. Then I switched into marketing, product development and worked for a big motorcycle company. I moved to Germany 20 years ago, made a big switch, learned the language and became a full time actor. So for more or less I am in theater for 15 years.



-               How did you come together with Marcus?


Adam: I met Marcus on stage! We ran a jazz festival together for years. I was directing a show and Marcus was the director of the music there. It was quite a quick one because he came into replace my other band which had left. We had 2 weeks to get everything on stage. (It was a little bit like a jam also, because we had very short deadline and we had to work very fast) And I think in such a situation “rock ’n roll” really comes true. It was a good “rock ‘n roll” musical.



interview with Adam Lawrence and Markus Hormeß


-               So doing projects in a very short time is in your soul! Do you always do your projects in short time!? Like jam!?


Marcus: It is for fun a bit, but if it is necessary it is really good.


Adam: And we do it with our customers also; pressure cooker type activities which must be half a day or a day or 2 days working very intensively on something. Impossible deadlines are strategic tool we use. I think it adds to creativity. It makes people not worry about being perfect and just try to get out as much as they can. Like you have 3 minutes to design this thing! Just do it! You won’t try to be perfect; but just try to have something done and often a very useful step.



-               How did you come to Service design then?!


Markus: Actually I always did Service Design. The process consulting is very similar with service design because you create internal services, you create and change and optimize the services for companies but with different and complex toolset which doesn’t involve empathy too much. In a conference in India in 2006 I met the guys from Live|Work, incidentally I thought for my work it is going to be a huge interesting thing. If you did process management with people, they would get really bored very quickly. They don’t see the point and it‘s a very painful process, but companies need it. So I thought this is a toolset that I actually need it I shared this with Adam and we combined our work from music and event planning into the Service Design field.


Adam: Like Marcus I have discovered that I was doing Service Design. I actually has started to write a blog “work*Play*Experience”, where the theater and play feed in the business. People kept turning up to this blog writing comments, saying this is cool. And when Marcus was back from that conference in India we talked about it and thought that is great! And we had the name for it!



-               You have told that the idea of the GSJ came from the idea of the Global Game Jam. Do you have anything to add this?


Marcus: I was a part of a small team to bring the Global Game Jam to Germany for the first time. I had several trips to the biggest one in Copenhagen which has 250 people. In the game jam they need a working game by Sunday. That is easier to some extent because they know exactly what are they going for. And if they hadn’t decided the core game concept by Friday night o Saturday morning, they would be in trouble because they won’t have enough implementation time to finish by Sunday. And if you browse on the game jam website you will see fantastic games which you won’t believe they have been done in a weekend. They are really like 3D games, 3D modeled. That fascinated me. I felt how far we can push what is possible in a weekend! Obviously it is not that easy in Service Design. We don’t know what will be the working prototype on Sunday? And I am still not sure about this. A lot of people interpreted, believe that we need to have a service blueprint, a customer business model to go with it, which is superb, a very good result for a weekend. And there is a service ad, a little advertisement, video try to sell the core point of the idea. But what if it is a face to face service? Or funding a none-profit that doesn’t exist yet!? How much prototype can you go on? I think this is a really interesting thing that we all are going to find together.


Adam: it is a good point with game jam, either you are finished or not. It is a kind of digital decision, it does or it doesn’t? Is this thing downloadable and runable or not. With a service it is much more challenging and there is a great temptation for the jammers to spend the whole weekend basically discussing and at the end upload an idea, or the presentation of an idea! Ok, that’s pretty cool! But we really want prototypes, to move to future, to make something really testable in some way. So somebody can go out and start doing this thing ideally. Therefore, one of the challenges for us as organizers is, to keep pushing people along this progression; from idea through prototype, through implementation, through the service.



interview with Adam Lawrence and Markus Hormeß

-               I was in ServDes 2010 and remember the scene you & Marcus opened a rolled sheet of paper and introduced the JAM, and invited people to participate. Did the idea come during ServDes or you prepared for that?


interview with Adam Lawrence and Markus Hormeß

Adam: we had thought about it. I and Marcus had the idea from February 2011. And I said: “Yes, we will be doing this immediately!” But we were not sure that what shape it would have for a while. Then we talked to some people about it. 4-5 people around Europe who we just bumped into or see it on the same way we were about it. And they were very supportive and they had really good input. We developed a first draft, some rules for the event like this. And then in Berlin in a service design conference, which was a month before ServDes I think, we said: “Ok let’s see who would be interested in a larger field?”, and we did it with a poster! There were a lot of people saying: “Yes, we will join this!” So we made the decision that “Yes, we will launch this, definitely!” We picked the month and we did that at ServDes, I think. Marcus was setting up the website; I was reserving the twitter name. And we talked to 3-4 jammers Scotland, Swiss, and some others.

Then we knew when we launch this thing at 5pm, we will have 4-5 jams.



interview with Adam Lawrence and Markus Hormeß

-               How is the feeling now? You started with 4-5 jammers and you are more than 80 now!?


Adam: We are really hundred now for this jam. We will lose some this last week may be. Because real life happens, you know.



-               Marcus how is your feeling?


Markus: Scary and interesting! We meet these people across the world and they just loved the jam! Usually I can’t believe that because jam for me, was an idea that should have been done but the reactions are overwhelming.


Adam: I understand I am humbled by! With couple of the guys we do this in our free time and we don’t invest in it and we don’t want it. They have their jobs. We don’t want to make this a dominating part of our lives.  So it is amazing to see how much creativity, energy and passion are putting to this thing! It is very humbling when someone says the jam changed my life! And it is not only one people who said that! Or when someone says that it was the best weekend of their year! And it is not us done that! I really want to point that. It is the local hosts and the jammers make this possible. Marcus had a brilliant idea, I didn’t stop him, and the rest were the jammers. So we feel very privileged that they adopted this idea.


Marcus: yes it is not us. It is people that challenge and are the phenomenon.


Adam: We couldn’t have done this, in some way that fits with the philosophy of the jam. I can’t remember who said this; I think it was me, that “A jam is an opportunity to do something that you can’t do it by yourself”. Not the projects inside the jam but the whole thing, is like that. All these ideas that come, we never have had these ideas. Because we are not Iranian, we are not Mexican, French… We don’t have their experiences, what lead the people’s lives there! What we try to do, even in our work, is to make a mental space and sometimes a physical space that people feel their ideas can open up! And no one is going to shoot them!



-               I read about the word JAM and liked the idea came from music which would like to share with our readers also. Do you have anything to add on?


Adam: Marcus you are musician


Marcus: the cool thing about the jam is actually that, it is not about getting a project professionally done. It is not about going to the studio and recording an album! It is more about to play around and grow and find new ideas that later may be used for a project or for a new formation. So there is always pressure when we think “Oh we have all these wonderful ideas and we have to use them!” At this very moment the fun leaves the room, because people get stressed out. In every profession, especially in the creative professions we have to have a space to just have fun and grow. And at the end, this is much more efficient than when you sit and decide “to save the word by the 17th. of Dec.!” This leads to frustration. You meet just for one weekend. It is people that you don’t know before, there are a lot of people that you really really like, and there might be people that you won’t like to work with again. But this sort of working is so painless because you don’t have any obligation. You jam, you work together, you test if it is working, are you having fun? You take with a couple of people, that is the people you stick with, and you call them again later! And the band forms! You try a lot, you try different methods, and you can see what really works. That is what it is about jam! And you can do the wild thinks which you wouldn’t do if you have to deliver! Personally I achieved more breakthroughs in my personal development in this jam environment than any other situation, in such a restricted time.


Adam: I think it is like the real jam or marmalade that you put on your bread or whatever! You take all kinds of materials! And you boil them really hot on the pressure! This is super hot, super high pressure process that can change everything and makes it into a something very strong and very sweet. And that is cool! Also if you continue that metaphor what you get out of it!? You can get the jam! You can put it on bread and make bread amazing, put on cake and make cake amazing or put on ice-cream and make the ice cream amazing! It is a concentrated, sweet, strong, powerful thing! Or you can even leave it in the cupboard, and use later! I really like the metaphor there! I like the idea of the pressure cooker, the heat, bubbling away, and growing in strength because of that. Most of the time there are stuff steamed out of it! That just goes away like a steam! That is what a jam means to me, you re-juice it to the essentials. And you get the strength and the sweetness out of it.



-               Are you a good cooker?!


Adam: no I am an awful cooker-Markus is pretty good.


Marcus: Adam is a British heritage! J I am kind of an improvisation of a cooker. There is stuff I can do really well. And there is stuff that I get fire out of it, because I get adventurous! Basically I can put together and I am not too bad about it. But it is a matter of time. I like cooking, it is not about food it is about preparing and enjoying the actual preparation not only the point that you can eat.



-               So is it kind of creation for you?


Markus: Yes!



-               Do you have any good or bad memory from previous JAM?

Adam: Lots of lots of good memories! But you know, our jam is quit long, so we are pretty tired, crazy by the end of the jam. We start when the New Zealand guys start and finish when the West Coast American guys finish. So it is 70 hours or so for us. But I remember that one time when I did the first jam, I fell off my chair with laugh so hard, it was very brilliant. It was when I was alone and Markus went to sleep and it was in the midnight and I was alone with the FACTORY we were working in. It was a HUGE empty space one table and two chairs and other jammers went home and I was alone there. And the guys from Antwerp Jam posted this video which was a bunch of guys, in really cheesy super hero costumes, doing a very straight interview to the camera. I have a sense of humor I guess, but I laughed so hard for that. And I thought these guys have had a fantastic time! And really enjoyed this weekend! And it was a privilege of us sharing this with us!

In the sustainability jam again we had a team, from Zimbabwe. It was a whole bunch of doctors and engineers; in a proper engineeringJ. I wasn’t sure if they got the concept of the jam, they were quit formal and the relationship was untypical for the jam. Like Mr. Lawrence and stuff like this, with secretaries and assistants to cope with. And through the weekend they e-mailed me and said that “We are having an amazing time…we can’t believe it, and we haven’t done this before.” And they produced fantastic projects with proper project plans, budgets, timelines, in a ten page report for their ideas at the end of it! And another one discovers a new way of working and they enjoy it and they get the work done! That was great for me!


-               I think this will be a great experience for Iranian jammers also, to be cool and not so serious and formal at work!!

Adam: That is great but I do want to point out that we don’t want to tell anybody that this is the way we should work! What we like to share with people is that there are a lot of different ways that you can work. And it doesn’t have to be the same. And if you are traditional and like doing it in traditional way, and that works for you, then it is fantastic. Then go for that! As long as you are enjoying that!

Like rubber chicken! That’s our toy, our metaphor and if you want to share it, it is fantastic, but if you don’t then find your own thing.

If you want to be traditional it is cool but you do have other options! And I think what the jam can do is to show you that there are lots of ways to do these stuff and everybody can find the way that works for them. And we are very excited about the Iranian jams.


Markus: I agree with Adam, it is amazing to see what is happening when the results come.  We saw that it improved the results doing this!! So we really have to rethink the way we work every day! And this is the space to try thing.


Adam: And of course, we also get problems! It is a big event and we were not prepared for that when we started. You know we host a big amount of data and for example in the sustainability jam, system crashed! And people were fantastic! Nobody got angry, nobody yelled us. And until we found a way to around it, people were just cool, and Ok! And I thought how cool that is!! They kept smiling!



To be continued…


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