Artefact Cards Blog
To celebrate the launch of the splendid new How To Future cards, Scott Smith of Changeist will be joining us for the next Cardstock meetup on Friday 25th September, to talk about (amongst other things) why cards and futures make for very good bedfellows indeed.
As always, put your name on the list here so we know who's coming, and bring your future thinking hats too.
A good friend of ours, Steve Chapman, has just completed the most awesome project, partially powered by the Artefacts he kept on his wall as a record of progress. We just had to ask him to tell us all about it...
I only ever seem to find out what my projects are about the moment I finish them. They’re more organic than mechanic and tend to start out as a curious question that then takes on a life of its own. I see my job as simply following their often-erratic path to see where they lead me. To nurture and nudge rather than manage and measure.
In early 2018 one such curious question came to me whilst out running. It was prompted by seeing yet another tweet about yet another brand-new leadership podcast promising to reveal top leadership secrets to turbo-charge your career and turn you into some sort of omnipotent LinkedIn god. Or something similar. I didn’t read on. But whilst out running I started to wonder if the medium of podcasting had become all a bit meh! “I wonder what the opposite of a podcast might be?” I thought to myself.
Two and a half years later I found myself recording the penultimate 99th episode of Sound of Silence (the world’s first silent podcast featuring special guests) with comedian Eddie Izzard backstage at a theatre in Bexhill-on-sea.
This was never part of the plan, but that’s what I love about having no real objectives – wherever the project wants to go is always so much better than where I would have led it!
Now, recording the world’s first silent podcast featuring special guests isn’t as easy as it may sound. Or if you weren’t thinking it sounded easy – recording the world’s first silent podcast featuring special guests is as difficult as it sounds. The biggest and most problematic problem was finding guests who a) didn’t think it was a Chris Morris-esque wind-up or b) didn’t suspect that I was luring them to a quiet place to murder them! I needed to cast my net wide in the hope that at least one person would say “yes” which meant sending out many, many invites.
I am a visual thinker and my plans tend to change and morph on an almost daily basis and, as this project had the added uncertainty of involving lots of other people, I turned to my trusty supply of Artefact cards to help me make sense of it all.
Whilst I spent many years managing projects with Gannt charts and various metrics and dashboards, I find it so much more helpful (and exciting) to be able to physically move cards around and, on occasions, rip them up in a fit of frustration and throw them in the bin.
So in the spring of 2018 I created four zones on the wall of my little studio for different categories of cards. Zone 1) Potential guests – people I’d love to have on the podcast, Zone 2) Guests who had said “yes” to being on it but I’d yet to record with, Zone 3) Guests whose episodes I’d recorded but not yet broadcast and Zone 4) Episodes that had been broadcast.
I guess there was also an unofficial fifth zone which was the 60% of guests I asked who said “no” or ignored my request. Week by week the cards would gradually move from zone to zone. Some made it all the way to the end and others didn’t. As time progress I realised that this was not only a brilliant way to keep track of things, it was also an invaluable way of keeping motivated. In the moments I felt like giving up I’d glance up and notice that more and more little yellow cards were making their way across the wall to the glory of zone 4!
At lunchtime on the 25th August 2020, the final 100th episode was broadcast and, with a sense of satisfaction (and a dose of “thank **** for that!”) I added the final card to zone 4. After 18 months, and an inordinate amount of train tickets , the podcast was finally complete.
And for me personally, the completed collection of artefact cards is equally as beautiful as the completed podcast. The plan has become as much of a work of art as the work of art itself.
I bet nobody has ever said that about a Gannt chart!
Steve is an artist, writer and speaker interested in creativity and the human condition. The silence collected through his Sound of Silence project has been turned into an online exhibition of silence that can be visited at www.soundofsilence.org.uk. You can find out more about Steve at www.canscorpionssmoke.com or follow him on Instagram/Twitter via @stevexoh.
Cardstock, the monthly meetup for ‘folks who like cards a bit’ is back. 1pm UK time, this Friday, 28th August. Get the Zoom details and sign up here.
We’ve had two months in a row with a special guest, focussing in their work and approaches, so this month we’re back to a casual drop-in thing... with one slight change.
At the end of the last Cardstock, we made up a thing on the spot we called ‘Card Radar’, where people had to go and find a pack of cards around their homes that they wanted to talk about.
This time though, we’ll do that with a little more preparation - if you’re coming along, please bring a thing - it might be cards, it might be something else you want to share that’s related.
That’s it for now, super simple - see you on Friday.
Well, last month's special guest idea at Cardstock worked very well indeed (thanks, Charles), and then at the end someone asked if Charlotte (who was at her first Cardstock...) could be a guest at a future one (as they were fascinated by her work).
And so, without any ado at all, we sorted that out...
Charlotte Overton-Hart works in the areas of identity, ageing, and dementia, inspired by the friendship she had with her Gran. Developing resources and facilitating workshops around the country, Charlotte loves using and (home) making decks of cards.
She co-created her first deck, Storycomb (combining story and honeycomb) to support people living with dementia to tell their life story in a non-chronological order. In 2019 Charlotte launched Ingredients Cards, a deck of cards designed to encourage everyday creativity and quality time with people living with dementia, and everyone.
Simon White from Formation London will be leading the conversation, so come and hear Charlotte explain more on Friday 31st July, at 1pm UK time - sign up here so we can get an idea for numbers, please.
We've been working on a custom project for Nusbacher & Associates, who wanted a very particular form of Artefact Cards for using in a series of remote workshops they've been running for their strategic work with their client, DLA Piper.
In order to build out the first and second order implications of events throughout the guided process (which uses techniques like the Futures Wheel as part of the method), Lynette and Rina wanted to be able to put a tool in the hands of the participants during the process.
The online Miro whiteboards they were using for supporting the process were great, but there was a missed opportunity to engage people with the concepts once they left the whiteboard and it disappeared from the screen.
The properties of hexagons make them brilliant at taking a core concept in the centre, and working outwards from one central point, which is why they asked... "could you make hexagonal Artefact Cards?".
Which is exactly what we did. And in order to make a real impact on arrival, we created a premium branded box for them in G.F Smith white Colorplan, included a fine-point Staedtler Lumocolour, and finished them off with a full-soaked black shipping box.
We think this idea from Nusbacher & Associates is a great example of people who are thinking about the whole experience around how work happens at the moment.
As Rina points out, "interaction is vital for meaningful strategy work, and not just presentations or speculations". Giving people agency to feel part of the process is vital, and finding ways to make that feel like a whole-body thinking experience (rather than just peering through a digital window) is a big part of it.
The difference that it can make when some of the workshop you're part of turns up at your door, and lives with you in you newly-shaped home workspace, is definitely something to think about in designing experiences; a distributed form of creativity that connects both the physical and virtual experiences of working together.
If you want to find our more, or talk to us about custom sets or deliveries of employees and clients, please do get in touch with us here.
Alongside Matt Ballantine and Simon White, I've been running a monthly Cardstock meet-up online (we had started them in person at Somerset House... but then... events...) where people who work with cards in anyway come together talk, share ideas... and just generally hang out and chat.
It's all been fairly informal so far, this month though we're trying something new, and having a special guest.
Charles Burdett, creator of the brilliant new toolkit Workshop Tactics, will be joining us to talk about the process of designing the cards, what he discovered through the design process, and where he's lately been seeing in remote workshop set-ups that we can all learn from.
It's at 1pm on Friday 26th June - reserve a place here if you want to join the conversation.