Health Jam 2014: Lessons Learned for Knowledge Mobilization

Photograph of Upstream's prototype

A musical “jam” is improvised collaboration among musicians. Musical improvisation – creating something new without extensive preparation or practice – has been proposed as a model for innovation and social change (see for example the multi-disciplinary Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice project funded through the SSHRC Partnership program).

Happily, those of us who lack the skill for musical improvisation can still jam. The “rules’ of non-musical jamming come from design thinking methods and create a framework for rapidly developing prototypes of ideas designed to address a particular problem or issue. Design thinking is a “human-centred” approach to innovation – a form of structured brainstorming, testing, and iteration that repeatedly tests prototypes against the needs and attributes of end-users.

The global series of GovJam events are two day workshops aimed at building collaborative and innovative solutions to public sector problems. In turn, GovJam events were inspired by ongoing Global Service and Global Sustainability jams, with the tagline: “48 hours to save the world”. Jamming appears to be a rhizomatic practice, like the stem of a plant that grows through laterally spreading roots and shoots, with past Jam participants spreading outwards to create new Jam events in different places and with different areas of focus.

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