Every now and then, a social channel proves its value to me with a surprise and this occurred earlier today with a “like” from a First-Tier contact of mine on LinkedIn.

Oh, the like wasn’t for me.

Rather, a product by a New Zealand company Riders & Elephants, called The Emotional Culture Deck. And glimpsing the pic that accompanied it, I was intrigued.

You see, ever since a kid, I’ve loved games and over my decades as an adult, I’ve taken that hobby into the extreme spanning 20-plus publishers, covering the breadth of conflict simulation from Waterloo to the contemporary invasion of North Korea and Taiwan—studied by the military—to running transport corporations around the USA and pitting Spiderman against Ultron.

In fact, it’s the latter that might be the most relevant here. For that game, called Marvel Champions by Fantasy Flight is a distant relative of The Emotional Culture Deck. You see, both use card-driven engines: meaning everything in them happens through decks of cards on a table.

A chance for leadership and their teams to speak

The premise of The Emotional Culture Deck is simple yet, potent. Take a deck of cards each specifically crafted to a leader or an employee; tell a story exposing participants’ (let’s call them players) fears and desires in their employment setting, and discover strategies through synergy that move all towards the ultimate goal of a productive, motivated and supportive working environment.

Folks, after the Covid-19 crisis settles—whose full societal shock is yet unknown—cognitive work like this is going to be essential across businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Players sort cards printed with single emotions and traits on them into piles like, “Our success relies on people feeling this”, and “It’s important our people don’t feel this”; to “It’s important I feel this” and “I don’t want to feel this”.

In this way players get to answer whether they want a workforce that’s “confused” or “paralysed”? Or whether as employees they’d like to feel “open” or “inspired”?

What’s important here, is that given a typical organisational training setting, we often find that participants close up, cater to groupthink or simply try to put on the best face when invited to give feedback. Further, what’s often overlooked is a participant’s limitation when communicating a feeling or emotion: it could be cultural, educational or simply an innate introversion.

So, how about instead, you give your people each a deck of cards where a significant range of emotions are already printed out for them? Now watch the mental fireworks open up—possibly even a wave of catharsis.

This cognitive familiarity is the realm of Mindfulness. And success in Mindfulness is a process of constant practice in labelling whether an emotion is “thinking or feeling”, “pleasant or unpleasant” and of what physical effect.

The Emotional Culture Deck facilitates this without players realising it.

Can it be used for personal growth outside a work setting?

I believe so. The market for what are called Oracle Cards (an offshoot of Tarot) and Meditation Cards today, is phenomenal.

And while not specified in the information I’ve seen, I reckon the same process can be achieved with The Emotional Culture Deck:

Need to pin down how you’re feeling today? Flip through your deck of emotions. Nail down your top 5 sensations; next search for how you’d like to feel by day’s or maybe week’s end. Pull out a journal (which are fun on their own) and start strategising a roadmap to get there.



I’m very glad LinkedIn exposed me to something fresh today. I’m also very impressed that Riders & Elephants offer a free low-res version of The Emotional Culture Deck for perusal, which is what I’ve used here.

Businesses needing a new internal communications methodology should find The Emotional Culture Deck a worthy investment—note, multiple copies will be required to furnish each player with their own tools. As a personal Mindfulness assistant, The Emotional Culture Deck isn’t cheap—a single deck comes in at around $169 AUD plus shipping. But if you feel it’s time to open up, it’s well worth considering.

Further information can be found at Riders & Elephants here:


Good luck with your journeys.

© 2020 Adam Parker.

Picture Credit: © 2020 LinkedIn.


Note: This article is not sponsored by or affiliated with Riders & Elephants.