How to Run Your Own Design Jam

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Growing up in Europe I fondly remember my grandmother making jam in her kitchen and when it was cool enough, sharing the spoils of her efforts on a lovely thick, crusty slice of bread.


We’re not talking about fruit plus sugar, are we?

A design jam has nothing to do with the sugary, fruity goodness that is sitting at the back of your cupboard. It has everything to do with empowering the people in your organisation to collaborate on a challenge and rapidly coming up with potential solutions and then playing these back for feedback. It is design thinking in action.


What is the spirit of a design jam?

Just like its namesake in music you come together to jam. It is about collaboration, experimentation, innovation, co-operation and maybe even a sprinkling of competition. At the end of the jam, each group has a prototype that they have tested and iterated on. It is a spirit of action, of bringing ideas to life.


Things that won’t happen at a jam…

You feel bored. No way, things are happening too fast.

You are overwhelmed by powerpoint slides. Not ever, less talking, more doing.

You overanalyse the data? Nope. You have a challenge and you set to work.

You get lost chatting over drinks and nibbles. After the jam, not during!

You build one thing and it is perfect. Really? No. A first iteration at best.


Who can come or who should I invite to a jam?

Anyone at all. A jam doesn’t allow for part-time attendance though, so if you are in, you are in. What does your dream jam team look like? Try inviting a cross-functional bunch of people to join the jam and break down those organisational silos.


How long does it take?

Time gentleman, please. Like a Federer v Nadal final it could go on forever but that isn’t going to get people to join. We have run a design jam in as little as 2 hours with some pre-prepared discovery and a strong starting challenge framed in a ‘how might we’ statement. Here at Naked Ambition a few of us have participated in a 48-hour jam but that was the lengthy exception rather than the rule.


Why would I want to run one?

A jam is a great way to practice collaborative design in the time it takes for a long lunch.


Can I run a jam?

“Yes and..” You are busy. We get it. And you have never facilitated anything design-related in your company before. That is a bit scary. To help you, here is a sample content sheet for a two-hour design jam.


Design Jam

If you need any more information or would like to chat more about running a design jam in your organisation, please get in touch with us by emailing

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