PACE Card Deck helps Individuals, Teams to Become more Innovative

If you're interested in growing your capacity for personal innovation or want to make your team more innovative, the PACE card deck developed by B.J. McCabe from Idein Rise Incorporated is a worthwhile investment to help you reach those goals.

This colorful 52-card deck features gorgeous photographs on one side, selected to evoke your own experiences and stories. For example, a flower on a lilly pad suggests an awakening of some sort, while an image of 6 jets in formation at the top of a loop evokes thoughts of soaring higher in one’s career. On the other side, each card contains a brief lesson on a principle for doing successful, innovative work, along with thought-provoking questions and action steps designed to help you apply what you’ve learned.

The goal of the PACE card deck, says McCabe, is to help “surface” useful ideas in your life, so you can contemplate and take action on them. In fact, the name of her firm, Idein Rise, is based in part on the Greek word “to see.” She acknowledges that it’s hard for people to see opportunities when they’re busy with their day-to-day work. Using a tool like the PACE card deck places some important ideas on the mental radar of its users, and enables their minds to free associate and make new connections.

McCabe’s deep level of experience in helping people to tell their stories makes the PACE card deck a different tool than the typical brainstorming tool. It contains a wider variety of principles, including:

  • Grow customes and your client base
  • Lighten the carry-on load
  • Measure by paces to complete a marathon
  • Run a risk experiment
  • The amazing journey

It’s clear from the appearance of the cards and the wording they contain that a lot of thought and love has gone into the creation of the PACE cards. McCabe has wisely incorporated client feedback to improve the PACE card deck through several iterations. What’s also notable is that it helps users to develop a greater capacity for creativity, rather that simply serving as a catalyst to generate ideas. Accordingly, PACE stands for:

  • Pay attention – to engage in reflective thinking
  • Act - to make things happen
  • Compassion - to lead with inspiration
  • Expression - to collaborate and share stories

In addition, compared to other card decks I have reviewed on this website, PACE has a decidedly “high touch” focus. It encourages you to think about your thinking, and to pay close attention to the stories of others. In other words, it prompts you to become a better team player and collaborator – so that everyone’s innovation capacity can be elevated to new levels.

How can you use this tool?

McCabe said there isn’t any single proscribed use for the PACE cards, but she recommended these applications of it:

  • Draw a card at random and see if it “speaks” to you in some way
  • Draw one card per week, and invest time each week applying the principle on that card
  • Select one at random and send it to a client or coworker to inspire them
  • Use them as fodder for your writing (that’s what McCabe does on her blog to showcase the kinds of thinking that can result from utilizing her innovation tool)

Who should use it?

The PACE card deck is equally well-suited to individuals and teams. Individuals can use it to spur them to add value to their work, or to illuminate new possibilities and potential opportunities in their lives. McCabe says the tool is also popular with artists, writers and small business people, who use it to help them develop the discipline to be an innovative thinker. Managers can use the card deck as ice-breakers for meetings or to inspire their team members. And trainers can use them as part of group exercises.


The PACE card deck is a valuable tool that can help you become a better thinker and to see and listen more clearly. At a cost of only US$9.99, it’s easily affordable by anyone who wants to up their impact in their work, or for corporate trainers and managers to purchase quantities of them to share with their teams.

By Chuck Frey

About the author

Chuck Frey Senior Editor, founded and served as its publisher from its launch in 2002 until the partnership with Innovation Management in 2012. He is the publisher of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the definitive souce for news, trends, tips and best practices for visual mapping tools. A journalist by trade, Chuck has over 14 years of experience in online marketing, and over 10 years experience in business-to-business public relations. His interests include creative problem solving, visual thinking, photography, business strategy and technology. His unique combination of experience and influences enables him to envision new possibilities and opportunities.