Understand the layers

By Ola Möller

Understanding the concept of card layers helps you, with the cards, to better design workshops. The cards are entry points for discussion. You can relate and think about each card in different ways. Keep in mind what mindset you use when you think about the cards.

Imagine that each card has multiple layers. The layers are different ways you relate and think about the card. The layers often contain information that you either know or want to find out.

What you decide to write down depends on what layer you are addressing.


What is the current state of the card right now? This can either be objective or your subjective (sometimes biased) view.

How far would you need to get for things to be consider a success?

You could explore everything from people vision to envisioning different scenarios (for example utopic, dystopic or status quo scenarios)

What happened before?

What are goals and milestones for each card?

Learnings connected to each card.

What are 3-5 tangible steps forward?

What scenarios could happen? This part could also be divided into for example utopic and dystopic scenarios.

What could solve problems in each part?

What do you envision?

Sort & assess

How important is the card?

How should you prioritize the cards if you have to decide or shortlist?

Is the card inside or outside the scope of your project?

How urgent is a certain perspective?


Who keeps the key or is in the way for getting ‘forward’?

Who is responsible or accountable for different parts?


What methods are used?

What are processes that dock into this card?

What tools do you use to work with respective card.


Are there good articles and books that inspire your work with different cards?

What are references you think of for each card?

What theories are you guided by related to each card?


How do you define the word on the card? What does it mean to you?

Ways to create layers

Use rows to define different layers with post-its

Add as many rows as needed.

Different pen colors to represent different layers

Using rows on a long table

Here people write on paper cloth. Scotch tape is used on the paper cloth to divide the rows. Each card represents a column, so all things related to each card are only written in the assigned column.

The exercise The Long Table describes in-depth how this can be used.

Also check MethodKit with Layers

We created a deck of cards with common layers. See it here.


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