ATD 2018

At the ATD International Conference and Expo in San Diego, I was speaking on the topic of “Isn’t gamification just sugarcoating boring e-learning content?” (Here’s the deck if want to take a look. It may not make too much sense without the narrative.)

In the presentation, we talked about Might Cards. Might Cards is a set of cards you can use to explore business problems with your client or team members.

The cards are inspired by Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, get Cathy’s book: Map it!, and read it first.) In short, in a two hour meeting with stakeholders, we go from “we need training on softskills” to a list of barriers that hold back employees from doing what they should be doing to achieve a business goal. Some of those will be solved by learning.

How to get Mighty Cards?

After the meeting many people asked how to get the cards. I gave some prototypes away. Based on feedback, I’m happy to report out that v2 of Mighty Cards are now available. You can order them straight from below. The set includes 4 x 5 + 1 cards.

[thrive_link color=’blue’ link=’’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Get Your Mighty Cards[/thrive_link]

One set of cards consists of a Knowledge (recall), Knowledge (use), Skill, Motivation, and Environment card. You’ll find four sets in the package. This allows you to keep one in your hand, while working with three stakeholders or your team members. (If you need more cards, just order more sets.)

How to use Mighty Cards?

There’s no right or wrong way to use them! My perspective is more about problem solving with clients, while Cathy’s original approach is more focused on training. Here’s her pre-action mapping flow (Is it a training problem?).

Why cards? In today’s digital transformation, there’s something magical still to hold something tangible in your hand. In my presentation, I referred to some research showing that just by “framing an activity as a game” increases learner engagement. Every time I show up with cards for a meeting, it changes the atmosphere. Never had the same with PowerPoint 🙂

Here’s one way to use the cards:

  1. Bring your stakeholders in a room.
  2. Tell them they’re free to go in and out. No obligation to stay. They can use their cellphones as well. (Most people get involved in the process once they see the value.)
  3. First, let’s agree on the business goal: write it out on a flipchart. That’s speaking the language of the business.
  4. Then, map it to some performance goals that drives the business goals.
  5. Next, ask how the success will be measured. Write it down.
  6. Finally, ask who can make this happen? (Audience)

If you end up MANY performance goals (rarely happens to me), prioritize them and start with the main one.

  1. Tell your stakeholders to list the behaviors (actions and decisions) people need to do/make to achieve the goal. In other words, what people should be doing? You can do post it notes and collect, or you can do it live and write.
  2. Next, ask them to come up with a list of behaviors people are doing and they’re not supposed to be doing.
  3. Now that you have a list, let’s use the cards. For each item, asked the stakeholders to pick one card that describes best the reason why it’s happening (why people are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing).
  4. You’ll get various responses (different opinions). And that’s the point. These are not cards. They are storytelling devices. Listen to the stories. You’ll learn much more about the situation from stakeholders than any kickoff meetings.
  5. Once you go through the list, discuss which of them can be addressed by learning/training. You’ll start with those but you will provide this barrier map to the stakeholders as an output. They can attack various other components on it. (Many times they actually solve issues right there just by talking to each other.)

Side effects

One simple side effect I often see is the notion of separating Knowledge into two parts: internal and external. Internal (recall) must be memorized. External (use) can be recalled or remembered by using an external tool such as a job aid. This simple thing allows you to work with the SME and point out you don’t need to include all that 123 slides. Just create a checklist (external knowledge) and include how to use the checklist.

There are million different ways you can use these cards for problem solving! How about have each person pick a card but don’t show it to anyone else. Then you write a problem/barrier on the flipchart. Everyone needs to argue why people are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing based on their card. You shuffle with every barrier. This allows people to think outside of their believes (and biases).

Mighty Cards v2

The new version has colors. Simple change but it helps when you have many stakeholders and a larger room. As they hold up their card, it’s easier to see the variety by looking at colors. The prototype on the picture was blue only.

What other ideas do you have?

Let’s Engage the WORL&D! In my book, you’ll find more details about my experience using the cards. In the first version of this I called them “obstacalities.”