Using Artefact Cards - Thomas Skavhellen

Here we go - it's the first dual-language Artefact Cards interview, with my good friend Thomas Skavhellen over in Oslo.  He, along with Thomas Moen & Helene Svabo, run the Social Winter / Summer conferences which they were kind enough to invite me to speak at in 2011.  i presented off a prototype set of the Artefact Cards, funnily enough, and handed them out 'slide by slide'.  Perhaps somewhere in Oslo, the whole presentation still exists...

...anyway, I digress...

You can read the English version below, or head on over to Thomas' site for the Norwegian version

Hello Thomas - who are you, and what do you do?

Hi John, I'm Thomas Skavhellen, a 30 year old man living in Oslo, Norway. I work for a small digital agency called MottiMotti where I mostly work with sales and marketing. I also arrange two big conferences a year, Social Summer and Social Winter. Overall very interested in communication and social media.

What do you use your Artefact Cards for, then?  I saw a picture of you holding some at this year's Social Winter conference in Oslo...

I've tried out the Artefact Cards now for both my conferences, for pitching clients and also for making my own product. At Social Winter I have the part of introducing all the great speakers that we have on our event. I use the cards to point me in the right direction of the evening. Every card has a start time and an end time so I always now where we are in the program. I use the white side for when I need to introduce a speaker, their name and some fun facts are usually written here. Then I use the yellow side for breaks and sponsors. I don't know why, but this makes it easy for me to know when I need to be serious and when I can joke around on stage. Yellow means fun time!

For customer pitches I've been using the cards for capturing good ideas in workshop to wireframes for mobile application. They are perfect for pitching for small groups, but I have yet to try it out in a big serious meeting room filled with important solution takers. I think it could work with a great story telling in that room, but the cards are small and I feel them best fit for a small audience.

There is something really intimate and lovely about presenting with the cards; initially i wondered if it was just the novelty factor of doing it, but I've presented to some folk repeatedly and they just get more into it.  I've been wondering if it's about 'communal space' - because you put the cards on the table, the ideas become the property of everyone.  What do you think?

We talk a lot about story telling in the communication industry now days. Also like you and many other have mentioned before, it's all about the bonfire effect. I think the cards are the bonfire, people want to see what you are doing and listen to the story. Card magic is a good example of this, as long as the story is good enough you want to be part of it and you follow along. And if you manage to do a little trick with the Artefact cards in the end of a good presentation, I think you have closed the deal :)

I love Oslo (having been twice now), and there's a certain 'clean and simple' vibe I get from a lot of the deisgn and architecture I see there.  Should we open up an Artefact Norway branch..?

Thanks! Yes I really love Oslo too. Even though I'm from Bergen, Oslo offers a lot more of this clean and simple vibe you are talking about. And also a big city of opportunities. Norwegians are really open for new things and really curious about everything. It's probably not the first impression you get from a typical Norwegian, but still we all are inside some where. So I absolutely think and Artefact Norway Branch should be the next big thing.

In my network GTD by David Allen is a big hit, showing us that people want to be more productive and learn new ways of organising the things we need to do. Artefact cards is kind of the same thing, only that we need to learn new ways of organising good ideas and how things come together. So I'm very interested to see what other people have done with their Artefacts, maybe there is a system in here some where? :)

I keep switching between two views on this.  Are the cards a tool, to be deployed however the user sees fit?  Or is there a technique, or a number of techniques, which show people the best way for them to work with the cards?  Let's try something out - what would your top tip for working with the cards be?

I really believe that the cards are a tool, but there is various techniques for using the tools. They are like a Swiss Army Knife, they can be used for storytelling (keynotes), organising thoughts, showing a workflow, building ideas. I absolutely believe that you should do some workshops around this product. There is so much potential here that nobody knows of when they first receive the cards.

My top tip for working with the cards would be as follow:

- Start with a good question or idea
- Take advantage of the two colours. Yellow means something and White means something, what is up to you.
- Understand that what you write on the cards a permanent, use for capturing just really good stuff.
- Try laying out the cards first, get the yellows in their right spot before you start marking them
- Don’t try to make it too clean or professional, blame ugly drawings on your kids if you can :)


Brilliant, thank you Thomas - Takk for nå.

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