Background – what’s behind the planning cards?

Ian West, managing director of One Marketing Ltd., has been involved in training and coaching with businesses of all sizes for many years. Card sorting has been a technique that he has regularly used in workshops to help people plan and organize their thoughts around important strategic issues for their businesses.

Custom made packs of cards were used very successfully in the coaching. At the end of many sessions he was often asked, “Can we get hold of a set of those cards?” Unfortunately the answer was, ” no”, as these were not commercially available.

“It didn’t take long for the penny to drop that there was a demand. The first thoughts were to make a digital version of card sorting, probably available over a website, but more research made it clear that it is the low-tech solution that makes the cards so practical and user friendly.”

“The cards are simple and portable,” says Ian. “And one of their great strengths is when they are used by more than one person – perhaps between business partners or teams – situations where electronic solutions fall down. Cards stimulate discussion, questioning and collaboration. Fixed ideas are challenged and new approaches often emerge.”

The first set of cards was a Business Plan set; “These are aimed at primarily at SMEs and entrepreneurs – perhaps in a start-up situation or embarking upon a new venture. However they are also very valuable used in teams within a business as training aids, or as tool for professional advisers to stimulate ideas and clarify planning.”

One Marketing used its own strengths and specialisations to recognise other areas of need where cards could be useful: Export planning, Marketing planning and creating Digital Strategies.