This weekend a Global Sustainability Jam is happening which will see people from all over the globe coming together in different locations to come up with creative ideas to sustainability related issues. But what is a jam and what is its value?
The term ‘to jam’ originates from musicians coming together with their instruments and creating music. This term is now extensively being used to describe events – virtual or physical – where people from all sorts of different backgrounds join up to create something. IBM launched jams a decade ago to enable internal crowdsourcing, that is to tap into a crowd of people to provide solutions to a problem. IBM’s jams are conducted online, through a series of boards and web pages which are created specifically for an event. People are told to sign up and log on during a defined time period and get their jam on. The information obtained is then analyzed, categorized and summarized. Shortly after developing its own internal jams, IBM saw the potential to sell this service to other companies, allowing them to have a platform to bring together employees (if the jam is internal) or stakeholders (if it is external) to discuss and create solutions.
Jams are valuable in that they break down traditional barriers by creating a platform where everyone can participate. Within a company, they can help overcome issues associated with a hierarchical structure, or overcome to the large scale of firms where people within it don’t have the means to get together. Both internally and externally, they bring ideas together. If you refer back to my post about chance favouring the connected mind, you’ll see the advantage of this. But as I also said in this previous post, bringing an immense amount of ideas together has its downsides too: it requires a lot of time and effort to avoid being drowned in a ton of different viewpoints. This is particularly true for companies who are already increasingly strained for time and busy running their day-to-day operations in competitive environments.
From a personal perspective, I only see the good side. Meeting people, discussing sustainability, bouncing ideas of each other, broadening my knowledge and discovering new perspectives, can only be positive – whether virtually, or physically as I will be doing this weekend when I attend the London Sustainability Jam. I don’t expect we’ll be saving the world in 48 hours as the tagline says, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. I’ll be sharing my experience of this exciting weekend shortly after so watch this space!
We’re jammin’! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFRbZJXjWIA