Why Use Cards for BRIDGeS Sessions
BRIDGeS framework is a universal tool that teams can practice in an office or online. At Railsware, we have had experience with both types. In one and the other cases, we use the same set of instruments ‒ a whiteboard and colored cards, be it physical colored sticky notes on a whiteboard or cards in an online tool like Figma, Mural, Miro, etc.
Anyway, we opt to and recommend others to use cards instead of text during the sessions because of the following reasons:
Cards are easy and fast to comprehend
People start processing visuals from birth, while the ability to process complex sentences develops rather late in life. MIT neuroscientists claim that the human brain can identify an image in just 13 milliseconds. Whereas for reading a short sentence (8 words), a person spends 1.2 - 2.4 seconds. When working with large arrays of data in a group, it’s much more sensible to use visual materials than plain text in terms of spent time.
Cards are easy to memorize long-term
Our brains latch onto images. Unlike words that are processed by our short-term memory, images go directly into long-term memory. The experiment showed that after three days, a person retains only 10-20 percent of what was said or written but can easily recall up to 65 percent of visual information.
Words that don’t evoke images in our mind are very easy to forget, while images stay longer. This is proven by the Baker/baker experiment when two groups of people were shown a face of a man. The first group was told that his name was Mr. Baker. Another group was told his job was a baker. The group that was told the man’s occupation memorized this information much better, and for a longer time due to associations that occurred in their mind.
So-called memory athletes, who train for the memory competitions (contests where people memorize random numbers, deck of cards, names, etc., and then recall the information), use a mnemonic approach to train memory. Among the most powerful memorizing techniques, they name the Major System and Memory Palace or the Method of Loci. Both approaches are based on the idea of converting various numbers/names/objects or their combinations into vivid visual stories that are easy to recall.
By using a whiteboard and cards during the BRIDGeS sessions to visualize data, we get an effective way for context structuring and memorizing.
Cards are easy to navigate and move around
Blocks of texts in a single scrollable document are hard to move around and remember. When you use a board and cards of different colors and shapes for your notes, you activate the spatial memory that allows you to remember things and the location of each object concerning others better.
A great advantage of the cards is that you can place them anywhere on the board and then change their placement as many times as you wish. More than that, in the case of the BRIDGeS session, when using cards, we avoid data dupes by placing one descriptor between two Subjects.
Cards don't overload cognitive memory
On average, our short-term memory can store between five and nine items for approximately 20 to 30 seconds. To combat this, you can group information into smaller sets to widen the limits of the working memory. Cards are much more effective for grouping than text. By grouping cards, you can not only expand your memory capacity but also convert short-term memory into long-term memory, and better memorize unrelated information.
Cards allow for non-judgmental decision-making
Lists can be a great way to memorize things. They draw our attention immediately and are easy to scan. However, we always subconsciously perceive lists as prioritized items even if they aren’t numbered. If something is further down in a list, we perceive it to be less important. The ability to move, rearrange, and reorganize cards gives more freedom and flexibility to the flow of your thoughts.
Cards allow for effortless element differentiation
Data visualization simplifies pattern recognition and correlations between objects.
It takes less than a second to detect an unusual object in a group and realize its difference compared to the other objects.
During the BRIDGeS sessions, we use this function of our brains and pick cards of different colors and shapes to mark subjects, descriptors, solutions, epics, and tasks. This way, participants of the session differentiate various elements immediately and with no effort.
Basically, there’s no difference whether you run an online or offline BRIDGeS session. The main set of tools is the same ‒ a board and colored cards. This set helps teams run discovery sessions effectively, simplifies the work with large amounts of information, and saves time during the workshop.