Written by:

Holly Macdonald


July 5, 2011

I’ve been a fairly regular morning participant on #lrnchat, and when the weekly discussion schedule went to monthly for the summer, a few of us found ourselves drawn to the Twitter at the allotted time, despite the fact that there were no questions or moderator lined up.

What did these rebels do? We held impromptu design jams!


Someone sent a”help me, I’ve got to put this together” tweet with the hashtag and whoever was around jumped on and added their perspective, asked questions or offered help.  It is an inspiring kind of thing to behold.

  1. First one was a presentation slide for @megbertapelle – who posed her challenge and we tweeted concepts at her.  Once one of them stuck, we refined a bit from things we’d seen through the twitter stream or elsewhere, and within 30 minutes or so, she had a mock up of what to include. She then (this is the best part), shared her work with us, since the slide in question was not directed at a specific need in her organization, but a more general one that others are affected by as well.
  2. The second one was for @dawnjmahoney who had posted her challenges on building a persuasive design document using her organization’s excel template.  This was a toughie, as design docs and excel aren’t the most natural of pairings, but as true learning professionals we rose to the challenge. We asked clarifying questions about her challenge and we identified some potential approaches for her.  Again, we found that after a short period of time we were able to identify actionable steps that could help. A couple of us offered to help offline. Dawn offered to share her (non-proprietary) end product as well.

What’s great about these somewhat impromptu design jam chats (for me):

  • Switches gears to someone else’s challenges – it almost hones my mind for my own client work
  • Get to see/hear that others are facing similar challenges (yes, sometimes misery does love company)
  • See the real value of social – if we were at a face-to-face event, this is the kind of stuff that we’d want to talk to each other about anyway
  • Variety of perspectives and experiences at your fingertips
  • Actually helping someone solve a problem. Not just chatting, but really making their lives easier. That always feels good. The camaraderie is fun, too.

This week will be an actual #lrnchat, but I hope that the design jam concept can stick around. Lurk around the #lrnchat space and throw your design challenge in the ring during hiatus.  Catch up with past chat’s on David Kelly’s fabulous blog where he posts summaries and other goodies if you want to know more about the twitter based chat.

Could you see a way to use/introduce a design jam for your needs? I could see this as a product use, the community for #articulate is a very active one, but maybe adding a weekly design jam might be another layer of help.  Do you have other ideas?