tool description

The issue cards are a physical instrument used as a peg to induce and feed interactive dynamics inside a team. Each card could contain an insight, a picture, a drawing or a description; everything is able to suggest new interpretations of the problem and to induce the assumption of a different point of view. The result is the identification of new criticalities and opportunities in the context of reference.
The heterogeneity and simplicity of the contents are required to guarantee the success of this tool.

(2009) Donna Spencer, Card Sorting. Designing Usable Categories, Rosenfeld Media.


Jamin Hegeman, Kipum Lee, Kata Tennant (Carnagie Mellon University)

This project dealt with the ideation of a service that will foster flow at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security screening stations at the airport.
After identifying the design principles leading the project (communicate to passengers, feel in control and say goodbye), the team developed several concept ideas for each principle. The ideas were captured on cards in order to share them with the TSA and be something that TSA could share with each other in order to start having meaningful conversation about the experience.
Each card contains a concept with a sketch and a description, while the color identifies the relative design principle.



The Kent County Council decided to create a Social Innovation Lab for Kent -called SILK. In order to support this project, Engine developed and tested a powerful set of creative techniques, emphasizing the importance of focusing on people needs’ as a starting point for innovation and demonstrating the value of engaging citizens at all stages of project work. The cards are part of the SILK toolkit with the aim to stimulate and support innovative practices among the council staff.

Bovisa Co-Housing Project

DIS, Dipartimento di Innovazione Sociale (Politecnico di Milano)

During the construction of the house, the future co-housers have been involved in several design activities aimed at the definition of some aspects of their future living environment.
The issue cards were used for choosing the activities they wanted to include in the house, establishing their importance and finally defining their disposition inside the spaces.
The cards facilitated the visualization of the concepts and the discussion by transforming the ideas in physical objects that could be pointed out, taken and moved on the table. Each card was composed with a partially drawn and partially photographic image in order to give a precise cue but not a well-defined visual reference; each image was followed by a short text describing the activity with a simple language.