I’ve been working on developing a product. An actual physical thing that you can hold in your hands. It’s a set of playing cards. I call them CIO Priorities.

The idea has been gestating for a while:

  • I spend a lot of my time talking with and looking at what technology leaders in organisations do and what they are trying to achieve.
  • I see a great deal of tech industry marketing activity going to waste because tech marketers just don’t understand their senior clients.
  • I’ve been working on ideas to introduce play into business to help people work more effectively and enjoy themselves in the meantime.
  • I recently bought a set of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategy cards.

A particular piece of client work crystallised all of this, and so CIO Priorities were born. Whilst they’re a set of playing cards, they’re probably not going to win any awards for toys any time soon. They’re a bit dull, but they’re a lot more fun that merely talking about CIO strategic priorities, and so should be a lot more useful.

For a pack of cards you need some games and some rules. Here are the first few games:

Games for IT vendors

Take 3

Draw the cards at random and create a pitch for your product in that context. “No bid” when credibility is stretched too far (suggesting an alternative non-competitive vendor).

Talking points

Create 4 clumps of cards by dealing out the entire deck:

Product strengths – priorities that your product or service directly addresses
Meh! – priorities for which your product or service has no application
Talking Points – priorities where your people have something interesting to say which isn’t a direct product sales pitch
Walk away! – priorities which could see customers stopping using your product or service

Do your conventional marketing approaches reflect your strengths?
Do you sell on regardless of your weaknesses?
What sticky marketing strategies do you have for for opportunities?
How could you counter your threats?

Games for CIOs

Spot check

Draw cards at random from the deck. Is the priority currently one of your own? If not, how could it be accommodated? Why isn’t it?

Organisational Stress Test

Draw out your technology management organisation structure. Draw CIO Priority cards one by one, and ask –

If this is a current priority, who is the ultimate owner (not forgetting that ownership could sit outside of the IT/Technology Group)?

If this isn’t and it needed to be, who would own it?

Skills gaps

This game can be played at either an organisational, team or individual level.

Draw out CIO Priority cards and place them into three piles

Strengths – things which the group or individual is currently good at

Get Bys – things in which the group or individual has some (maybe limited) capability

Gaps – things in which the group has no capabilities

For the Strengths, ask what activities are in place to continue to build on those strengths

For the Get Bys ask which ones need to be Strengths, and plan to develop accordingly

For the Gaps ask which need to be Strengths or at least Get Bys and plan to develop accordingly

Games for groups of executives


Deal out the cards to create three clumps:

Mine- priorities that are predominantly the responsibility of someone other than the CIO

Ours – priorities that need to be shared across departments

Yours – priorities that are just those of the CIO

As I get the opportunity to play more with the cards, more games will develop. I’m also looking to extend out the CIO Priorities to other board-level groups – Marketing (on which I’ll be working with the awesomely awesome Matt Desmier), HR, Legal and Finance. If anyone wants to collaborate on those ones, give me a shout.

You can order yourself a pack of the cards at https://stamplondon.co.uk/ciopriorities/, or just download them and print them yourself.

31 thoughts on “Some games to play

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