The team at international management consulting firm People Rocket is always trying to think of new ways to interact with the world. In client workshops and their "Design Thinking and Innovation" class at Harvard Extension School, they help creatives plan innovative solutions to complicated problems. But when the team paid closer attention to the role gender played in their brainstorming sessions, they decided to rethink their own approach. "We have observed that learners, especially women, often get quite intimidated by new emerging technologies," said a team statement.
The Our Lady of Technology Tarot Deck explores emerging technology concepts like mixed reality, autonomous driving, and IoT.
To combat this problem, instructors Tessa Tzeitel Forshaw, Meredith Caldwell, and Richard Braden wanted to create a tool using an atypical approach. Instead of sticking to rigid, masculine systems that prioritize jargon and hard-won experience, they wanted to make technological discussions more intuitive, flexible, and accessible. Their solution was the Our Lady of Technology Tarot Cards, a Tarot-inspired deck of cards that makes for an engaging and empowering approach to brainstorming. Its 22 cards cover a wide range of today's most influential technologies, from tactile mediums like 3D printing and robotics to digital innovations like blockchain and augmented reality. These cards are inspired by the Major Arcana, a 22-card outline of classic storytelling archetypes, including naïve heroes, wise princesses, and mercurial magicians. With the help of these archetypes, a curious Tarot practitioner can make sense of a given situation and how to best approach it.
It's this versatility that makes the Our Lady of Technology cards such a fun, exciting approach to technological innovation. The front of each card features a poppy, clever illustration of a technological practice, while the back of each card provides a basic description, why the practice is useful, and examples of successful applications. While there's no limit to how you can use the cards, People Rocket designed a helpful strategy for brainstormers. Like in a classic Tarot reading, a group of collaborators will think of a problem, shuffle the cards, and spread them on a table. One person will pull a card, read it aloud, and open the floor to discuss the card's relevance to the problem at hand.
The People Rocket team was inspired by the current female-led boom in metaphysical practice like Tarot, as well as ancient stories of powerful women. "In our exploration of the historical roles of women as Seers, Fortune Tellers, Witches, and Faro Ladies…we found women have historically been at the forefront of futures design and the application of past era technologies," they said.
The cards and their promotion materials prominently display women and people of color. The People Rocket team hopes that this will inspire women to contribute their perspectives to brainstorming sessions. Women led the way throughout the process of creating the cards, applying academic research on how to make STEM environments more inclusive to women.
"We wanted to design a tool that would help learners engage with emerging technology in a collaborative and tactile way…and we wanted to put women at the center," said People Rocket. "If women are not engaging…with emerging technologies, then the technologies of the future won't represent women, their needs, and their perspectives."
This innovative thinking perfectly illustrates why Our Lady of Technology Tarot Cards are a fantastic example of how to build more inclusive processes from the ground up. The product's playful, innovative approach encourages creators of all identities to trust their intuition, play with big ideas, and explore vast new horizons.