How To Use The SHIFT Card Deck

Hi everyone.

I'm Ken Cameron from Corporate Culture SHIFT. Thanks for joining us for another in our series of Vlogs where we talked about The SHIFT Card Deck.

We're in the middle of our ATB boostR campaign.

We're actually nearing the end of it. So, if you haven't had the opportunity to go to our webpage and get your card deck, now is when we would really value your support.

But before you do that, I want to arm you with some information on how to use the card deck...

You may remember, last week we had Alexandra Hatcher talking about how you can use the card deck to discuss individual values.

What I want to talk about today is how you can get a group or a team to talk about how the organizations' values reflect it in their everyday work.

This works organization-wide, but it also works at a team level as well, because we know that individual teams or individual business units have their own subculture that can be mildly different, or sometimes even radically different from the organizational values itself.

This is the same technique that I used when I was working with the cultural transformation project at The City of Calgary about seven years ago when I developed The Culture in the Cards Workshop.


The first thing that you're going to do is take your SHIFT Card Deck, remove the title card, obviously, but also remove the nine major cards.

These are the cards that I've been talking about all along in our previous vlogs about the various different nine suites of cards.

Place the removed cards with the title card off to one side so that what you're looking at is what we call the minor cards.

These are the individual cards in each of these nine individual categories.


Spread them out on the table so that everybody can see them.

You might want to spread them out really wide so that people can paw their way through them.

What you're going to do is present everybody with a question...

Tell a story about when you were working in your organization or on your team, and when you were working at you most effective, efficient, energized?

Get them to think about a particular story.

Don't let them to speak theoretically about, "Well, when we are effective, we like to do this...."

Get them to think a very particular story, a very particular time, or a very particular action.

Now, it doesn't have to be just a single day. It can be over the course of a project, or it could be a week, or it could be an intensive period, but try to narrow the focus of the story that they're going to be talking about, and give them time to think about what the story might be.

Kind of just as I'm doing with you now.

You'll notice that I've given you the parameters, and then I've kind of given you a different set of parameters, and I've kind of asked you to think about a story that's when you're effective, and efficient, and energized, but I've also asked you to think about a specific story, and I've given you a couple of different parameters.

Give those to your audience so that they can begin to think about that.


Once they've got their story in their head, invite them to pick three cards that allow them to tell that story or in which that story is reflected.

Let me give you an example...

I'm going to talk about my time on the cultural transformation project, and I'm going to do that, I'm going to tell you that story through the prism of three cards that I've selected.

When I was working in the cultural transformation project at the city, we had to engage with all of the city employees that we could find.

Now, there's 15,000 employees at The City of Calgary. We managed to engage with about 3,000 employees, so a pretty broad cross-section. We did that over the course of about nine months. In order to do that, we really had to be...


We had to develop a number of different methodologies that we could engage with people, and we had to kind of test them, revise them, go back to them. So, it required an awful lot of patience, but it also required a lot of...


As I say, we had to develop something, and then redevelop it, and then go back and test it again, and then kind of launch it amongst a number of different business units.

Then we had to coalesce all of the information and so on, so we had to do that as well.

But we also had to leverage our...


We had to go to different leaders in different individual business units and seek their permission to come and work with their teams to get the information we needed.

So, my cards were patience, tenacity, and relationships.

Once you've modeled this process for people on your team, you would get each individual member of your team to tell their story.

This serves two functions:

  • It binds your team together, because now they see themselves reflected in each other's stories

It's inevitable that as Person A is telling their story about when they were energized, Person F over here is going to have been part of that team, or, "Oh, I remember that day," or, "I wasn't part of that project, but I watched it happen."

They get to see themselves reflected in each other's stories, and it tends to bind the team together just through the sheer act of storytelling.

  • It gives you a selection of cards.

Let's say you've got 10 people on your team. By the time you've gone all the way around the table, everybody's selected three cards, you now have 30 cards.

There may be some duplicates, so let's say maybe you don't have 30 cards. Let's say maybe you've got 25 cards, but you've got 25 cards that represent the values that your organization lives every single day when they're being effective, and efficient, and energized.

These would be the values that your organization might choose to aspire towards, but 25 is probably too many, so you're going to have to find a way to whittle 25 down to say, between five and seven cards - five and seven values.

4. Narrow Down Your Values

What I do in this way is I then take the 25 cards that people have selected, and I ask everyone to choose one card, because usually what happens is, sure, I've chosen three cards to tell my story, but if I really think about it, one of these cards matters more than the others.

Get everybody to put those other cards in the center, take their one card and tape it to the wall behind you.

Now what you've got is 10 possible values taped to the wall. You're trying to aim for like five, right? And you've got 10 on the wall, or maybe more depending on how big your team is.

Now's an opportunity for you to take little sticky dots and to get everybody to vote on which of these 10 cards that you've put on the wall, which of these 10 values they think are the values that should be replicated across the entire organization.

Get everybody to vote.

Narrow it down to five, maybe six, and those can be the values that you can then take forward to leadership as the values that should be disseminated across the entire organization.

You could also use those values, if you're...

  • working with a small team,

  • creating a team charter as in, "These are the ways in which we want to behave and conduct our business when we're working together with one another."

That's a great exercise you can use on how to use this card deck to articulate your organizational values.

Just remember that it's about, again, it's about the relationships, and it's also about the stories that you tell one another, and the stories that they use to describe the way that they interact.

That's what you're trying to distill when you tape up these cards on the wall, and when you try to narrow it down and define what those values are.

That's how I tend to use the SHIFT Card Deck when I'm working with my clients, and I run these workshops all across Alberta, all across Canada.

I hope that's been useful for you and if you like what you've heard, then go check out our ATB boostR page get a card deck for yourself.

If you want to know more, you can also select a lunch and learn with myself, or a one-on-one consultation with myself or my co-developer, and we can come and talk you through how to use the card deck with your team.

I've really enjoyed sharing these vlogs with you and sharing the way that I use these cards. I hope you found it useful and we'll see you here again.

Take care.

join our growing list of happy clients:


"It was impressive to see Ken facilitate very unique, creative and innovative workshops while keeping connected to our business strategies and end goals..."

- Jackie Barber

  First Calgary Financial

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