Impasse Cards

CoRe Jolts Impasse Breaking Cards Project

For some years now, I have been intending to collect my ruminations on impasse breaking into a “card deck” for use in mediations.  Readers and colleagues will know that I have promoted the use of others’ decks (Creative Whack Pack, Oblique Strategies, etc.) in mediation. Useful as these decks can be, they do require a certain degree of confidence (in the mediator and the parties) simply because they can require a high degree of adaptation and imagination to apply to the mediation context.  For that reason, I want to create a system that is aimed directly at use in mediation and can be utilized by even “noob” mediators and negotiators.

There has been, however, too much talk and too little action!  As a sufficiently (I hope) self-aware person of strong pressure-prompted tendencies, I finally have taken the step of creating a deadline by proposing to utilize the card deck in a presentation at NWDR on March 28th, 2014.  Clearly, I must have a prototype deck prepared by then!  Here then are the plans for the next three months of development.

Seeking Artist-Collaborator

I am pulling together ideas for cards at a reasonable rate – drafting text and outlining a handbook to accompany the deck.  What I am not equipped to do myself is illustrate the cards or even design an attractive “back” for the deck.  I need to work with an artist on this project in order to keep it advancing.  I can be flexible about the nature of that work relationship (options for payment for the work), so please contact me to talk about possibilities if you or someone you know would be interested in tackling the art work for this project. 

Card production research

Sterling Nelson is kindly helping me to identify card production options.  We’d especially like to find a local company that prints cards, but would be interested to hear any recommendations.  You can reach us both with any ideas at  We will need to print prototypes for testing, and then run sets of cards for sale.

Testing the Cards

I will certainly need to test the cards for ease of use, comprehensibility, etc.  My plans for doing so are to hold a few focus groups, bringing together friends and colleagues with enough mediation experience and knowledge to imagine ways to use the various cards and to give informed feedback on different ideas.  As I am planning the cards to have more than one “suit” or theme, I am planning focus groups that will examine specific types of cards.


Would you like to participate in a focus group test? Email me at for an invitation.

Focus groups planned for:

  •  January 30, 2014, UBC Faculty of Law, 5:00-7:00 p.m.   Topic: MBTI trigger cards
  •  February 20, 2014, UBC Faculty of Law, Noon-2:00 p.m.  Topic: Pattern Interrupt cards
  •  March 13, 2014, Victoria, BC (tbc), Time tbd   Topic: Combinational Creativity and Tie Breakers?

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