Perspective Cards — A Thinking Tool For Creatives
When I have a problem or don’t understand something, I often pick someone’s brain. I’m notorious for my mysterious phone calls in the middle of the night asking, “What would YOU do in this situation?” I’m less interested in the answer. More curious about their rationalizations: What do they notice? What do they care about? How do they see the world?
As a designer, this is extremely valuable to me. It helps shift my thinking, especially when approaching the asymptotic limit of my understanding. Sometimes you learn more from the people that you disagree with.
Frames of References
Over the years, I have catalogued these points of views as frames of references. If I have an analytical friend, I ask myself, “Well what would Joe do in this situation?”. It helps unlock a whole set of possibilities and uncover new ideas. It’s also fun to imagine how other great minds in the world would approach your problem. What would Jean-Paul Sartre, Elon Musk, and Oprah think?
In other words, what is the existential, strategic, or optimistic perspective on “x”?
Introducing Perspective Cards
Elushika and I decided to prototype a card game to help facilitate this type of thinking. We often consult each others’ perspectives when working on projects. We thought it could be useful in the creative process, especially in the following instances:
- Creative Block: Similar to writers block, you’ve run out of ideas
- Group Think Mentality: Everyone is drinking the kool aid and nobody is questioning anything
- Pointless Meetings: Nobody knows what to talk about or the conversation has completely derailed
How to play
The concept is simple. There are some common archetypes that represent different perspectives, such as the Optimists (Oprah), Pessimists (Tina Fey), Scientists (Sherlock Holmes), Therapists (Freud), etc. The back of the card features someone who was an influential or successful figure in their industry. Most of them are famous but there’s also a short bio to give you context. At the top of the card is their unique point of view.
1. Use as Thinking Prompts
These cards can be used in different game modes. Solo or group. The quick-play version would be to draw a card and use them as thinking prompts:
“What would so and so think of this?”
“What technique or strategy have they successfully used?”
You can also use them in a group to facilitate conversation. You could decide, “For the next 10 minutes, let’s think about this from “X” perspective”. This can help bring the conversation back to one topic. It can also ensure that varied opinions are being expressed in meetings. If you have a room full of engineers, perhaps draw more from the Therapists pile or Artists pile. It might even foster empathy within teams. Imagine if a pessimist drew the Oprah card and had to act like her in the next 10 minutes.
2. Identify your blind spots
This could be used as a diagnostic tool. Perhaps you’re a creative thinker but don’t often think about logistics. In that case, you would only draw from the Strategists pile. This can reveal to you which perspectives you rarely think from and expand your mind.
3. Use this for feedback
Elushika and I discussed in detail how this would be perfect for feedback sessions. Nobody likes getting critiqued but it’s necessary so you know what to improve. So what if you only critiqued someone’s work from a Kanye West perspective rather than your own? This can help focus the discussion on feedback rather than tip-toeing around your words. You aren’t speaking for yourself, you’re just echoing what Kanye would say.
4. Party mode
You could even use this as a card game at a party or for improv. Kids and adults could play this. Maybe we make a sets of character cards from Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. The possibilities are really endless!
What Would _______ Do?
During testing, I was so surprised at how well the Kim Kardashian card worked in terms of spurring creativity. It forced people to ask questions like: What would fans think? How do we get this viral on social media? I think what made it effective is that the demographic of people we were testing with weren’t necessarily Kim Kardashian fans, but it helped them unlock some new neural pathways for thinking.
It’s time to see things differently
Our perceptions are so limited. This is why we decided to launch this idea into a Kickstarter campaign. We want to empower designers, creators, and makers to try this type of thinking in their process and also foster better collaboration in their teams. It is valid to ask: What would Kanye do?
If you believe in this idea I hope you consider making a pledge. We’d like to develop this prototype into a real deck of cards. But more importantly, we’d love some feedback on how we can make this game work better for you. Reach out on Twitter: @ruthtupe @elushika or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com