Brainstorm Better With This Simple Card Game, From Obama’s Campaign Designers

Cards Against Humanity for brainstorming is here.

Brainstorming is dumb. Oh, sure, it sounds good: an open forum for ideas to bounce off one another in a democratic group sesh where everyone’s views and opinions are considered equally. In reality, though, the best ideas lose out to the loudest ideas put forward by the most popular group members, like that well-coiffed son-of-a-bitch Chad with his incessant chants of “Pizza Car!”


An alternative to brainstorming? Brainwriting, a technique where you put all ideas on the same footing by taking a complaint box approach to ideation. Instead of a big group of people brainstorming together on a big whiteboard, individual ideas are anonymously scribbled down on individual cards, instead of being shouted out in real-time. Then, everyone calmly reads the ideas aloud, and discusses them rationally as a group. It’s a proven technique that has been shown to generate 20% more ideas and 42% more original ideas as compared to traditional brainstorming.

Now on Kickstarter, the Brainstorm Deck is a new product by Chicago design firm Simple Honest Work (the firm behind Obama’s 2008 campaign design and creator of The Brand Deck). Despite its title, the Brainstorm Deck aims to make it easier to field brainwriting sessions. The Brainstorm Deck is a pad of about 100 individual cards, each of which contains a field for a description of the idea, and a drawing that visualizes it. They will also contain helpful cues to help brainwriters think out of the box–for example, “Think big like Claes Oldenburg!” would encourage brainstormers to think about their idea with a different sense of scale.

After all the cards have been filled out by a group, it’s time to discuss them, which the Brainstorm Deck encourages through a Cards Against Humanity-like game. In the first round, ideas are explained, and the group either puts them in a pass or fail column. Then, the votes that pass go through a second round of voting, where each player can vote for their favorite cards with a “Love It” card that, ultimately, will serve as a scoring tally for the ideas the group decides to go forward with.

It’s a simple idea, one that mainly just gives some structure to what would normally be done on Post-it pads. Thanks to the game aspect, though, the Brainstorm Deck hopes to pull in neonate brainwriters, who might otherwise be skeptical that moving away from the ubiquitous conference room whiteboard is a good idea. You can preorder a Brainstorm Deck on Kickstarter now starting at $20.

Related Video: Are you a good brainstormer?