Issue Cards

Support the conversation around complex matters by breaking down the subject into physical cards.

applied for





Service Staff





also called

Challenge Cards, Trigger Cards

what is it

Issue cards are used to promote discussion, to suggest new avenues of exploration, to structure thinking, and to spark ideas. They can be especially useful when the group feels stuck, or is unable to move away from familiar thinking. The basic concept behind issue cards is to isolate a specific element into each card, and then use the cards as starting point for a 1:1 or group conversation. An issue card can contain an insight, a picture, a drawing, a feature, a keyworkd, a description, etc. based on the specific need. They act as prompts to suggest new interpretations of a problem and induce considering a different perpective; they can be used in many different ways, from identifying priorities to discussing relationships or simply facilitating the conversation.

use it to

Guide a creative conversation, making it open and fun, avoiding the creative block.

remember to

Keep the content of the cards clear and simple, reducing the risk of bias and misinterpretations.

case studies

T.Ospito co-design workshop

Using issue card to facilitate a conversation with users


T.Ospito is a non-profit organization aiming to create a welcoming environment for caregivers, who come to Niguarda hospital to assist their beloved ones in their treatments. During an academic project we hosted a co-design workshop to envision an effective and reliable service for caregivers, leveraging emotional support provided by local communities (Amico di Quartiere). During the the co-design workshop, a set of Issue Cards were used to get the idea of the context and understand the mental model of each participant: every card represented a keyword (like family, routine, finance, exercise), and we used them in a very simple way to engage people in good conversations. Having the cards on the table stimulated participants to start share thoughts and discuss many things by themselves. They were able to add more words on other cards, to highlight missing issues, and finally prioritize all of them based on perceived urgency.

what is interesting

Issue cards provide a simple strategy to detect the most relevant areas to focus on when approaching a problem area for the first time, by allowing to quickly identify the priorities of the user in the context of the whole service.

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