At the end of 2014 we realised that it was roughly our 2 year anniversary. 2 years since the creation of Artefact Cards and we thought this is probably a little milestone that should be celebrated. No there wasn't a big drunken party that you all missed out on, nor was there a civilised dinner where we raised a toast to all things Artefacty. Instead we decided to celebrate in a slightly different way - by doing a review of how people use Artefact Cards. Yes some people may call this research but that doesn't sound very celebratory now does it?
We thought it would be worth asking people who we knew used the cards in very different ways, if they would be willing to have a little chat and allow me to pick their brains on the methods in which they use Artefact Cards. The interviewees were from various different backgrounds but they all used the cards in unique ways - however there were some themes that kept popping up repeatedly which are as follows:
Brain Splurge (Storm) - Call it what you want but this is the only theme that popped up in every single interview. People use the cards to translate their ideas from a thought to a physical reminder and quickly. Whether it be a catalyst idea in a workshop or just a reminder to pick up dinner ingredients on the way home. We think we knew this use but it's always nice to have your presumptions confirmed.
Permanent/Tangible - This is big benefit of Artefact Cards to me as with a Industrial Design background I lean towards physical over digital a lot of the time. The parents in the group who we interviewed agreed that their children certainly appreciated the physical nature of Artefacts and the notion that using a Sharpie makes anything you write down permanent. There was however disagreement on the topic of permanency though, as some people thought an idea has to be good enough to warrant a place on a card whether others thought it just best to get every single thought down.
A Journey - A start and an end point then everything else can be moved around. Some of our interviewees spoke of the way in which you can move the cards around in between two ideas and connect the missing dots as the most valuable way they used Artefact Cards. There was one method I have since used myself (thanks Rob) in which you draw where you are currently, you draw where you want to be (you as a superhero) and lastly you draw what stands between the two (a villain) each on a separate card and that is your playing field to then populate with everything else.
Spontaneous - The theme of spontaneity is really owned by some creative parents out there, and it is probably the method that I enjoyed hearing about most. From pulling a wildcard from the treasure chest of challenges for kids to do on a rainy day to tasks to help with the trials of long distance relationships all the way to giving each member of your family the perfect birthday present on a single card. When creativity and spontaneity come together exciting things happen.
Tools – At the centre of all these themes however is the overriding idea that Artefact cards are “a tool not a technique”. It is great to use the cards successfully in the same way repeatedly, but some of the best methods came from people trying to use them for something out of their norm. All of the interviewees stated they would love to know how others use the cards and if they could somehow do a tool swap. So that is something we are looking at – somehow building a community of Artefact users who can add their methods to the toolbox for others to use. From Ian Fitzpatrick’s great isosceles tool for reacting to current trends to simple workshop tools that will help people clients realise with an unlimited number of problems. The cards are a blank canvas for you to create whatever you desire.
This "celebration" was my first real insight in to how others use Artefact Cards, sure I've seen snippets during my time on Team Artefact but generally that's when I am using them with other people so I always have a say in the method.
We are hoping to continue these interviews year round as a constant piece of research so if you would like to get involved please give us a shout. Also if you like the idea of an Artefact Cards community tool swap please drop us an email so we can gauge interest.