4 boxes, labelled as components, characteristics, challenges and characters4Cs is a game that helps you to think through different aspects of a problem. By looking at a problem from 4 different angles you can break it down and see it in a new way.

The 4 Cs are:

  • Components: What are the parts of the problem or object
  • Characteristics: What are characteristics of the outcome – what does it look like.
  • Challenges: What are the key issues that affect the problem
  • Characters: Who is involved.

Of course, any letter can be used as long as you can find 4 different things to look at.

How to


For this game, you need a problem to discuss and a set of 4 ways to look at it – start with the 4Cs above, but if they don’t fit you can use another 4 words (the alliteration is important only to make it memorable and perhaps slighly silly fun).


Explain the design problem to participants. Provide them with the 4Cs and ask them to break down the problem by describing it according to these 4 aspects.

If this is part of a larger design activity, ask them to continue with the design problem, using their 4Cs discussion as input.


Little to no analysis is needed for this game. Its purpose is to help teams look at a problem in a different way and break out of existing patterns, not to create a real design solution.

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