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The rich picture is a technique used to provide a visual overview of an entire business situation.  Unlike other modelling techniques such as process mapping, rich pictures are not restricted to specific notation and usually show a more human characteristic of the business situation often reflecting elements such as the culture and political issues that may be causing problems with the current situation.



A rich picture is an attempt to assemble everything that might be relevant to a complex situation. You should somehow represent every observation that occurs to you or that you gleaned from your initial survey.


Fall back on words only where ideas fail you for a sketch that encapsulates your meaning.


You should not seek to impose any style or structure on your picture. Place the elements on your sheet wherever your instinct prompts. At a later stage you may find that the placement itself has a message for you.


If you don’t know where to begin, then the following sequence may help to get you started:


  • First look for the elements of structure in the situation (these are the parts of the situation that change relatively slowly over time and are relatively stable, the people, the set-ups, the command hierarchy, perhaps)
  • Next look for elements of process within the situation (these are the things that are in a state of change: the activities that are going on)
  • Then look for the ways in which the structure and the processes interact. Doing this will give you an idea of the climate of the situation. That is, the ways in which the structure and the processes relate to each other.


Avoid thinking in systems terms. That is, using ideas like: Well, the situation is made up of a marketing system and a production system and a quality control system. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the word system implies organized interconnections and it may be precisely the absence of such organized interconnectedness that lies at the heart of the matter: therefore, by assuming its existence (by the use of the word system) you may be missing the point. Note, however, that this does not mean that there won’t be some sort of link or connection between your graphics, as mentioned above. The second reason is that doing so will channel you down a particular line of thought, namely the search for ways of making these systems more efficient.


Make sure that your picture includes not only the factual data about the situation, but also the subjective information.


Look at the social roles that are regarded within the situation as meaningful by those involved, and look at the kinds of behaviour expected from people in those roles. If you see any conflicts, indicate them.


Finally, include yourself in the picture. Make sure that your roles and relationships in the situation are clear. Remember that you are not an objective observer, but someone with a set of values, beliefs and norms that colour your perceptions.

Rich Picture

Kelly Hunkin

Senior Business Analyst

Tel: 01506 283885


Heather Adams

Business Analyst

Tel: 01506 282879


Email the Business Analysis team

Things to consider

Rich pictures should be drawn out in collaboration with stakeholders and background materials.  These are handy when compared to BAMs to see where a certain stakeholder’s perspective contradicts with the goings on of the actual business system.



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