Using Artefact Cards - Louise Williamson


How did you think you'd used the cards?

I suppose I should show my cards here (aherm), I've used Artefects cards many a time with the Artefact Lord himself, Mr J Willshire, so I knew how they worked.   What was new for me was using them in a workshop context with a team of people who have no idea what they are and why they exist.  

The plan was to use them during a brand development workshop for a client in two ways:  firstly, to use them informally, encouraging people to capture thoughts/key points as we go and secondly more formally during specific sessions where I encouraged people to use them in a certain way.

How did you actually use them?

It all went according to plan, sort of.  People were curious to a degree and like fiddling with them.  The one challenge that I did find, was a reluctance to write on them, my instinct is that this is due to the permanence of them - some didn't feel confident to happily scribble away.   But once they'd got used to it some people really got into it, others stayed a little reluctant.

What worked really well was getting the 'soundbites' that people say down on cards - ideally by them, if not by me.  Those words then sat in front of those people throughout the day and were referred back to time and again, that doesn't happen as fluidly with a flip chart. 

What was also great was getting people's handwriting down: it helped them identify that point as their own, both during the session and afterwards when it was played back to them.

Have they changed the way you do anything?

For me there are two big wins, one is around the capturing of thoughts, the second is around organising them.

They allow you to capture things during session in a way that isn't as easy on other mediums:  post-it notes are quite good at this but it's hard to store them after the event, plus they look a bit crappy, flipcharts are good for sharing thoughts publicly but they're hard to move about - plus you always end up in that annoying situation when you start writing things in a certain way on the flip chart and then halfway through writing it you wished you'd organised it in a different way.

But it's in the organising of thoughts that I find they really come into their own, you can keep rejigging, replotting, reforming thoughts until you get somewhere strong.  You can't do that with anything else.  Plus if there's a point you want to make sure you never forget you just leave it at the front of the deck.  Good eh.

How do you describe them to others?

Hmmm, I don't think I do this well actually.  I think I said they're like turbo post-it notes.  Cards for thoughts.

Any final thoughts..?

A hidden bit of their brilliance is their portability, something I hadn't really pondered on before.  Very useful for a train ride.  Or a cafe.  Or a sitting room floor.  And seeing as I'm rarely based at an office desk this is a very good thing indeed. 

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