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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.

 

Why use this technique?

Interactions and problems specific to the business can be uncovered using rich pictures which may not otherwise be uncovered using other analysis methods. It is particularly useful for documenting the human characteristics of the business, including the organisation’s culture, which may include people’s viewpoints or opinions and the flow between. Rich pictures are a good starting point in a project to put as much information down on paper in a way that makes sense to you. It can then be added to as the project progresses and can be referred back to, to ensure that you have considered everything within a project.

 

Guidelines

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. As previously mentioned, there is no specific notation so you are able to draw any symbols or notations that are useful to depict the business situation.

 

Fall back on words only where ideas fail in sketching. The idea of rich pictures is that your drawing 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 organised interconnections and it may be precisely the absence of such organised 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 searching 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 and interactions within the situation, 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.

 

Things to consider

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

Rich Picture

Kelly Hunkin

Senior Business Analyst

Tel: 01506 283885

 

Heather Adams

Business Analyst

Tel: 01506 282879

 

Paige Barclay

BA Officer

Tel: 01506 203800

 

Email the Change Management team

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