Can seven cards change how you communicate about a project? IDEO says theirs can and they’re free.


"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." "The adage has been used in countless ways since the early 1900s, and it’s still the best way I know to describe the challenge of critiquing creative work. What it means to me is, we’re using the wrong language, but it’s all we have."


IDEO went in search of a common language to describe and critique creative excellence. After much deliberation they settled on:

  • Heart
  • Beauty
  • Brains
  • Bravery
  • Magic
  • Mastery
  • Destiny

They then created a card with questions to provoke thought about each. For example, the Bravery card poses the questions:

– Does the work, and the team, embody risk taking?

– Did the work introduce a new perspective, or inspire an organization to change?

– Will the world remember this decades from now?

So instead of stumbling around for words to describe why a design doesn’t quite feel right, you might say "it’s not brave enough." 

It took me several re-reads to buy into their concept, but now I find myself seeing all kinds of kinds of business applications for this deck of cards from strategic planning, to product development, to workplace design, and beyond.


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