Originally developed by Policy Lab in the UK Cabinet Office, hopes and fears cards use images to inspire people to express their objectives and concerns for a policy, project, or a problem.
The images act as metaphors for people’s hopes and fears – helping them articulate what they think already, and potentially encouraging them to think differently. They can be used with anyone involved in a policy project and are a good way of quickly understanding a group’s way of thinking about a particular problem.
When to use hopes and fears cards
You should use them at the earliest stage of a project so that you understand the aims and needs of your team members, stakeholders and users.
How to use hopes and fears cards
- Lay all the cards out on the table or floor – try and spread them out so that each picture is visible.
- Provide sharpies or similar for writing: these work better than biros as they stop people writing too much and are much easier for everyone to read.
- Give participants a set period of time (say 5 minutes) to pick one card that represents a hope they have for this project and one fear they have for the project/issue/challenge. Or you may want to do hopes and fears separately.
- Ask them to write 5 or so words in the space on the card that summarises their hope or fear.
- Depending on the size of the group, bring everyone together to share their hopes/fears, ask a few people to share their cards, or have people get into groups and share among themselves.
- Display the cards on a wall or table separating them into Hopes and Fears.