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What’s in a Jam? Opening the lid on my first sweet experience

Laura Whitehead

The day had arrived, and I was thrust into my first Knowledge Jam earlier this year.

Would I be a convert? Would I be screaming from the rooftops the value of ‘jamming’? Unlikely, as I’m generally quite a cynical person and could think of plenty of other ways I would prefer to spend my time.

The general purpose of a Jam ultimately is supposed to be about getting a group of people together to discover and capture insights around a topic. It requires them to be creative, open, and collaborative, while sharing and listening to each other’s ideas.

It’s designed to help them reach some conclusions that they can explore further, or to take back some ideas to apply in their own environment.

You are probably familiar with the experience. However, it likely attracts a room full of the usual character suspects:

  • The I AM VERY IMPORTANT person–listen to my opinion, once twice, perhaps a third time when I say it very loudly. Oh wait – I’m still talking and giving my opinion.
  • THE CHALLENGER–to be fair they can liven up the session. They want to argue with the I AM VERY IMPORTANT person just for the fun of it (and we all secretly want them to do so successfully).
  • The rest of us, reaching for our phones as the session veers off and we have lost interest.

So, I was already anticipating a letdown– like when you find the only revel left is coffee flavour. Two hours of my life gone in a workshop-type session trying to reach conclusions on a very important topic, again.

A new kind of Jam

But stop. Put the lid back on the Bonne Maman jam jar… this Knowledge Jam session may just be different.

Thank goodness for seasoned Jam host extraordinaire Alex Smith, Global RAVN Product Lead at iManage RAVN. His approach to Jams ensures they are fun, challenging, valuable, inclusive, and worthwhile.

He had put together (with the help of the Janders Dean legal industry consultants) a session entitled ‘Enigma’ – where we were asked to explore the concept and application of connectivity. We’re not talking ‘connectivity’ in the sense of “Wi-Fi issues” but rather finding and uncovering connections between various groups of people and their businesses.

We were expertly guided through the session with a series of interactive exercises designed to help uncover silos of information, experience, and knowledge throughout firms, and then apply this in a creative manner toward a solution. Before long we were knee deep in Post-It notes, flip charts, and quite a bit of sugar (apparently it helps the creativity). The room was a buzz with energy and laughter as the five groups we had been divided into worked through these exercises.

Let’s be honest, there were times when it went quiet—and times when we had to balance the different characters in the groups so we could find our way and answer difficult questions–but we got there. At the end of our group therapy we had a playback session and updated the whole group on our different solutions, what we had learnt on the way, what we had considered (or not) and our next steps.

It was a fantastic way to collaborate, learn, listen and explore and I for one learnt a lot and left wanting more.

iManage has hosted a series of Knowledge Jams this year and I encourage you to experience one too. Check out this blog post to learn more about our previous jams.

About the author

Laura Whitehead

Laura is an experienced, results-driven B2B marketing leader. Passionate and collaborative, Laura creates and empowers high-performing teams that deliver data-smart strategies, build brands, create resonance, and drive a positive customer experience.

Previously, she led marketing for other IT companies, including ClusterSeven, LexisNexis and InterAction.