Before the Service Design Academy was established, Dundee & Angus College helped to launch and deliver an explosively creative and influential event for the city, in collaboration with Open Change.

Eighty people with an interest in public services came together at Dundee’s first ever Gov Jam, making it the largest Jam in the world that year with 23 local organisations and authorities, spanning healthcare, education and cultural sectors.

Taking place in Dundee and 20 other cities across the world, between 16-18 May 2017, ‘Jammers’ had ‘48 hours to rock the public sector’.  A Jam is simply a group of people getting together who want to change the world over 2 days.

By propelling themselves out of their comfort zones, this a discovery of service design for the Jammers, many of whom we still work closely with today.

What they did

Arriving with a willingness to embrace service design principles and process, our GovJam teams co-created ten meaningful service ideas and prototypes for service improvement. These were then documented, taken back to the office and shared widely. The purpose was making things in the public sector work better and encouraging other colleagues to adopt this hands-on approach to their work.

What they said

During the two day period of fun but intensely productive jamming, participants shared some critical learning points:

“Test your assumptions and learn from failure, instead of trying to hide it!”

“We don’t need to strive for perfection all the time, it’s okay to make mistakes.”

“Creativity, communication and collaboration is key.”

All of these insights proved to be the founding sentiments to something wonderful for the future.

Dundee GovJam has continued in the years since 2017 and you can see some snippets of action unfolding at #DNDGovJam.

Watch and listen to the Dundee GovJammers here

What happened next

Global GovJam grabbed the attention of its hosts at Dundee and Angus College. The College’s senior team had the ambition to take what was a good place to learn and work and make it great. They held a wealth of data on every element of college life from attainment to health and well-being. Priceless diamonds of insight from students and staff were now needed to bring this data to life.

Good to Great

The Service Design Academy was jolted into life at the college to facilitate workshops and projects across its campuses.

Dundee and Angus College’s Good to Great project was about changing the culture, outlook and mindset of the college. Discovery workshops with over 400 staff and students identified key themes – Recruitment, Retention, Digital, Learning and Teaching, and Customer Experience. These themes were underpinned by over 40 projects. You can read more about the projects here.

One of these projects – Campus Help Points  – contributes to ongoing improvement in learner retention. In 2019 Help Point staff contacted 338 students who did not return to study from the October break. From this exercise 90% of those learners were supported back into class and 22 of those students are now accessing support services to enhance and back their learning journey.

Watch here for a short round-up of Good to Great

Watch here for more about Good to Great

DA Good Start Banner

Dundee and Angus College has become a great college. This transformation powered by data and driven by service design was rewarded in 2018 with the prestigious Campbell Christie Award for Public Service Reform.

Filling the gap

The Good to Great project gave strong evidence on the transformational impact service design mindset and approach can make. The next natural step was to harness the knowledge and skills of the core Service Design Academy team into creating a programme of learning. Service design training and education was nothing new. There were many service design courses out there, ranging from respected but lengthy and expensive Masters level courses to short online introductions.

We saw there was something missing – a course that would give learners the skills and confidence needed to make improvement in their organisations regardless of their role, level or sector.  Many organisations saw the need to build service design capacity but didn’t know how to do that with education they could trust?

We practice what we teach

The SDA team worked flat out to develop our Professional Development Award (PDA) course content and delivery methods. Again we worked with Open Change to do this, their experience was vital in bringing together an introductory programme which would fill the gap in the market that so many organisations and individuals needed. Taking the principles of co-design to heart, the learning was tested with a pioneer group to ensure that learning needs were met. And, it was fun to do.  It was important that Dundee and Angus College’s teaching values were met, and we ensured that our content and assessment would meet the strict requirements of the Scottish Qualification Authority.

Almost 100 delegates have graduated with our PDA so far.  Learners come from all over the UK, overseas, from every sector and a wide range of industries.  They return directly to the workplace to drive innovation in live projects. Council colleagues have worked to make digital services more accessible or to understand what the community needs in local hubs. Third sector teams have used their learning to develop new services. Colleagues in law firms have returned to improve customer journeys.  Many have also found and secured new career opportunities from the confidence and skills our PDA gives.

Moving into a new era of delivering fully interactive online delivery, more delegates from all over the world will join us. They’ll discover how service design can transform, building their skills and capacity for innovation back in the workplace. And we’ll continue to understand how to improve experience by listening to what they have to say.

You can watch and listen  too how they feel about our courses here Delegate diaries

To get to where we are has taken a huge amount of support from delegates, customers and the service design community.  We’d like to thank:

Birgit Mager
Professor of Service Design
Köln International School of Design

Marc Fonteijn
Founder The Service Design Show

Adam St John Lawrence
WorkPlayExperience and Founder of GlobalGovJam

Hazel White
Director
Open Change

Mike Press
Director
Open Change

Rod Mountain
Senior Associate
Open Change

Cat Macauley
Chief Design Officer
The Scottish Government

Professor Jeanette Paul
Deputy Dean & Associate Dean for Learning & Teaching
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee

Fraser Bruce
Programme Director, Product Design (MSc) 
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee 

Linsey McIntosh
Senior Associate
Open Change

The V&A Dundee team

Dundee UNESCO City of Design

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