Artefact Interview with Patrick Olszowski

Artefact Interview with Patrick Olszowski

Patrick Olszowski

How did you first come across Artefact Cards?

I am not exactly sure. I remember instantly being taken with their form, colour and finish. Yellow is my favourite.


How did you think you would initially use Artefact Cards?

I am a stationery junkie, so first off I just wanted a pack. I’ll pretty much try any stationery that looks functional and beautiful.


How did you actually use them?

I have spent the last 11 years working as a campaigner for charities. One of the key tools in public affairs campaigning is called 'theory of change planning'.

Theory of change is simply a step-by-step map of 'how the world is now' and laying out an epic description of ‘how the world should be different’. Finally, it is about the steps you will take to move from one to another.

The weakness of 'theory of change' is that it presupposes the world around you is static and that each of your actions will inexorably lead to victory. In reality, the world moves too fast or too slow and campaigning often only has a vague association between action and improvements in people's lives. But that’s the fun bit!

I use Artefact Cards to try and anticipate how my plans might be unseated by the unexpected. As the saying goes ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’.

How do you use them most frequently?

Earlier this year I launched my consultancy – Outrageous Impact -

I work with charities to help them understand what their staff, trustees and supporters want and what they say they want – the two are often very different.  My view is that too many charities have forgotten their radical roots and have lost touch with their supporters - which is a problem because it means that all the great work many do could be at risk of ending suddenly.

My work involves research, strategy and rapid prototyping to reignite these relationships. My work is based on the principles of human centred design. This is a simple set of freely available principles (check out that say if you design a product or service, it will most likely be successful if you really understand those you're designing for and build alongside them.

I use Artefact Cards at all times; during interviews, when feeding results back to clients and working with design teams to come up with prototypes. I also use it to capture key stories.


What has been the most surprising/successful use you have found for Artefact Cards?

To learn writing Chinese – I am so bad at it!  

Oh yes, and as a yellow card during the storytelling training I run. I say that stories are alchemy and can give a real window into people. But they are also sometimes too powerful. If a person holds up a Yellow Artefact Card at any time, the session stops for coffee, no questions asked.

How do you explain them to other people?

Small, beautiful, permanent post-it notes. Without the stickiness.


Thanks Patrick.


Patrick Olszowski


Outrageous Impact


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