It’s a simple way to align your teams. Fast.

Teamwords: The Working Deck


Use these cards and the included activities with your teams to:

Identify what’s most important to you when you work on a team
Describe your shared values and behaviors as a team
Agree on what behaviors will help your team work together successfully

This is the perfect complement to rituals included in our new book, Turning People into Teams.

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The Working Deck will help you with:

Aligning new teams. Helping teams in trouble. Planning for future growth. Identifying personal goals and behaviors. Encouraging dialogues around cultural differences. Clarifying hiring goals around fit and personality. Stopping the empty rhetoric around the real, personal effort that goes into working with other people. Changing the world… Ok, maybe not that. But changing your team? Absolutely.

Here’s what you get in the Working Deck: 

44 of the most common words people use to describe how they want to work together on teams
2 blank word cards you can fill in with a whiteboard marker
Team activities to get you started
A list of the 44 words so you can keep track of any stragglers

The cards are 2.5 inches x 3.5 inches in size, and printed on 330gsm paper (superior smooth) with an aqueous coating.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How did you pick the words you used in the Working deck?

Research! Lots and lots of research. We surveyed dozens of books and articles to understand how people talk about their teams and values. We went all over the world, testing different word lists with our colleagues, clients, students, and friends. Words arrived, words departed, and after many rounds of that, we arrived at the list we have today. (Then we kept sharing them with strangers in bars and folks outside of the design community, just to be sure.)

Do you have a list of definitions for the words?


Really? Why not?

Well, everyone on your team probably knows the dictionary definitions for these words. However, how we interpret and see these words in the real world doesn’t always match up. That’s why the behavior component of the cards is so important: How you see people being “innovative” is probably different from how your teammates do.

For example: We saw two team members arguing, D and H. D needed help. H refused to give it. D said H wasn’t being supportive. H said that he was being supportive, because by staying out of the way, D was able to learn more.

Both used the word “supportive” in their defense, so the dictionary definition wouldn’t have helped them. They both knew what it meant. But how they saw and experienced it were very different. When they used Teamwords, they had the space to talk about tangible behaviors without getting lost in abstractions.

It’s hard to do much with “I want you to be supportive.” Who knows what that means?

“When I need help, I’m going to ask for it directly.” Now that's a behavior everyone can agree on.

How should I use the blank cards?

Your team might come up with a value that isn’t in the deck. Or you may have a corporate word that you feel inclined to use. Or you might make up a word. You can also write your favorite word down in case you lose the printed version. There’s a word list included.

Can I write on them? 

Yes! They’ve been tested with dry erase markers and can be wiped off within 7 days with a little soap and water. (Be aware that you may rub off anything that was printed on the cards, if you write over what's already on them.) FYI: Permanent marker goes permanent within minutes. Ballpoint ink is pretty permanent and may imprint the card, roller ball will smudge for a while. Don’t put them in a printer. Really. Don’t.

Have you thought about illustrating the cards?

Yes, and even though we know a lot of amazing illustrators, we decided against it. Based on our experience creating these kinds of tools, illustrations have a tendency to bias people towards certain definitions. And discussing definitions is part of the process.

Help! I lost a card. Can you replace it for me?

Sadly, no. We don’t have the ability at this time to replace individual word cards. Feel free to use the blank cards as a replacement. There’s a word list in the deck to help you out.

What kind of shipping do you provide?

We use USPS to ship Teamwords to purchasers in the United States. Shipping costs are additional, based on the number of card decks that you’ve purchased.

I don’t live in the United States. Can you ship internationally?

Yes! But to do so, you'll need to email us at questions (at) askthesherwins (dot) com and we'll get you the info you need to place your order.

Do you accept returns?

Sorry, but we don't accept returns for decks that have been opened—unless there is a printing defect. Send us a note at questions (at) askthesherwins (dot) com if you believe there’s a production issue with your deck. (Please note that we don't cover the shipping of your Teamwords deck back to us for refunds.)

Do the cards come in any other languages?

Not yet. We’re working on it. :)

Can you train my company how to use Teamwords?

Yup. Send us a note at questions (at) askthesherwins (dot) com.

Can I order a bunch of decks all at once?

You bet. Send us a note at questions (at) askthesherwins (dot) com and we’ll help you out.

Do you have any other card decks?

We have other decks that will be ready for purchase soon. Very exciting! Sign up for our mailing list and we’ll let you know when they’re available.