what is it
Signal cards is a useful tool to inspire ideas, taking into consideration alternative and future scenarios that could influence how we consider existing services or look at new opportunities to develop. They help prompt thinking around emerging trends/behaviours or possible consequences of a broader propagation of something already happening - and turn those signals into inspirations to generate unexpected service ideas and scenarios (for both short and long term).
use it to
Push the limits of a creative conversation or envisioning activity, help thinking out of the box.
Build the cards with simple narratives, by phrasing big trends as future facts or anecdotes.
step by step guidelines
Thinking of the future, identify key trends, emerging behaviours or phenomenon derived as consequences of the propagation of existing models. Compile a list of the key ones that are relevant for the context of your project.
For each of those topics (eg. climate change, population regrowth, etc.), come up with an imaginary story, fact or anecdote taking place in the future, able to turn that phenomenon into something more tangible and concrete - as it would appear on a news (eg. “Japan starts the first migration contest to double Tokyo’s inhabitants in 1 year”).
Select a catching title and subtitle for each signal, and write the narrative in a few paragraphs.
It’s helpful to keep the reference to the specific trends or phenomenon each narrative is representing, which could be attached to he narrative as hashtags or labels. You could also use different colors to distinguish signals belonging to different macro-topics.
Finalise the signal cards adding a visual (if you want), and get ready to use them into ideation or speculative exercises.