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Top 10 Innovation and Design Card Decks

Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies. IDEO’s Method Cards. Sub Rosa’s Questions & Empathy. Idea Couture’s Impact Foresight Game.

I’ve long been a fan of design and innovation card decks. I love them so much I helped create one this year – LPK’s Roadblocks to Innovation – shared 600+ sets worldwide and led a couple dozen Roadblocks Workshops. This unique medium has a power to spark conversation. Here are my Top 10 favorite decks (in no particular order).

1. Superpowers Card Deck, SY Partners

“One way for a team to draw on all its strengths is to know and activate each member’s superpower. This deck of cards will help you uncover yours. The card deck is great to use as part of a team kick-off or to give as a gift to a friend or colleague. Deck contains 21 superpower cards and instructions. Your purchase unlocks online content at superpowers.sypartners.com – including tips for using your superpower, and interacting with other superpowers. Measures 3.5 x 2.5 in. Be the first to learn your superpower.” Superpowers Card Deck$15


2. Method Cards, IDEO

“IDEO Method Cards are a tool to showcase methods we use to inspire great design and keep people at the center of our design process. Each of the 51 cards describes one method and includes a brief story about how and when to use it. It’s not a “how to” guide—it’s a design tool meant to explore new approaches and help you develop your own. Use the deck to gain a new perspective, inspire a team, turn a corner, or try a new approach. Created in response to requests from clients, colleagues, students, and teachers, IDEO Method Cards are intended as inspiration for practicing and aspiring designers, as well as those seeking a creative spark in their work.” Order$49


3. Questions & Empathy, Sub Rosa

“A bespoke deck of 56 cards and guidebook, designed to enable empathic thinking Seeking clearer understanding or deeper connections? Let these cards guide your conversation and exploration. Finely-tuned over several years through Sub Rosa’s popular Applied Empathy series and the studio’s unique approach to client work, Questions & Empathy has inspired empathic exchanges for top creatives and businesspeople alike.” Order$39


4. Discovery Cards, XPlane

“XPLANE Discovery Cards help uncover the heart of the issue at hand. These cards and exercises give you and your group a way to start conversations, listen to each other, and move toward possible solutions. These thought starters are designed to prompt storytelling which can be useful in getting started or unstuck in any endeavor, from vision and strategy through change and conflict resolution.” Order$25

5. Oblique Strategies, Brian Eno, Peter Schmidt

“In 1970, Peter Schmidt created “The Thoughts Behind the Thoughts”, a box containing 55 sentences letterpress printed onto disused prints that accumulated in his studio, which is still in the possession of Eno.” Order$60


6. Branding Cards, Simple. Honest. Work.

“This little exercise will identify your brand’s characteristics. To play, round up a few people who understand your brand best. Each person sorts the cards into the different piles (You are, You are not, and Does not apply), discussing the choices along the way. Now, here’s the important part: the cards should describe how you want to be perceived by your audience. Once all the cards have been placed in the piles, focus on the ‘You are’ pile and narrow it down to 1 – 6 cards – these will be your brand’s characteristics.”Order$20


7. Roadblocks to Innovation, LPK

“Hunger for top-line growth has never been stronger. Belief among executives in the potential of innovation to fuel growth has never been greater. And investment in innovation programs has never been higher.

The harsh reality? The failure rate of innovation in most industries has never been higher. Yet ideas and ambition alone aren’t why innovation succeeds or fails.

LPK’s Roadblocks to Innovation Cards help teams anticipate universal project pitfalls and overcome organizational barriers. Discover how to overcome and eliminate the true roadblocks as you build your innovation engine for growth.”OrderFree


8. MethodKit, MethodKit

“The MethodKits are analogue tools designed to help you develop ideas, get overview and work together in meetings & workshops. Some of the kits are frameworks while some are libraries, more about that below. Common uses for the cards are planning, brainstorming, development and evaluation of projects.” Order, Various prices (€49+)


9. StoryHow Pitch Deck, Ron Ploof

“The StoryHow™ PitchDeck prompts its users through the process of converting an idea, message or presentation into a story.” Order, $49


10. IMPACT: A Foresight Game, Idea Couture

“IMPACT: A Foresight Game is a serious board game that teaches you to think critically and imaginatively about emerging technology and the future of society. Designed by the foresight strategists at Idea Couture, IMPACT invites participants to take on professions of the future and navigate change in order to achieve their character’s preferred future state.” *More than a card deck, IMPACT is a full on board game. Order$65


LPK has shared over 800 sets of Roadblocks to Innovation Cards with innovators in 25 countries and 6 continents helping teams anticipate project pitfalls and overcome organizational barriers to innovation success.

Interested in receiving a free set? Order yours at www.lpk.com/roadblocks

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Nicholas PartridgeNicholas Partridge is senior innovation director at LPK and he’s obsessed with creating “the new”: be it product, service, brand or experience. Nick is a veteran innovator, having partnered with the world’s most powerful brands and scrappy upstarts on their hairiest innovation challenges. Prior to LPK, he served as co-head of Idea Couture (NYC), as innovation director at Fahrenheit 212 (NYC) and as industrial designer at Essential (Boston). On Twitter at @KnewNewNeu.

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  1. Pingback: Top 20 Innovation Articles of March 2018 – Innovation Excellence

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