Methodology: Rich Picture – Problem Visualization

A rich picture illustrates a complex situation thanks to drawings that will evoke immediate ideas. The use of images, punctuation, and color code will help visualize and understand a process, feelings, an issue, and so one in an organization or even a smaller part of it. The rich picture should be drawn by the people involved in the issue you are looking at. You can use the rich picture exercise to understand issues at different level of the organization from the team, to the departments and finally the whole organization. You will then aggregate the rich pictures together to obtain a global understanding of the issue.

This exercise is limited in number of participants, simply because you cannot have 200 people drawing on a blackboard. As a manager you will have to select the people involved in the rich picture exercise. I invite you to test this method with a small group before implementing it at a larger scale.

The final rich picture will help to you see where the issues are. It will allow you to generate strategies to improve the situation or at least to clarify the issue and give you a direction to follow.

Material needed:

  • Blackboard or pieces of paper with stickers
  • Colored pen

Process:

  1. Determine the issue you want to look at (e.g. French fries are always cold when they arrive on clients’ table)
  2. Define a starting point in your process (e.g. receiving an order of French Fries) 
  3. Draw the first action (e.g. receiving the order of French fries) 
  4. Determine the process you follow when you receive the order 
  5. Draw the process (leave enough space to add additional visual information) 
  6. Ideas may come to your mind as you draw. Add them. You can use:
a. Smileys to express feelings
b. $ sign to express expenses
c. Color codes to express urgency level, department responsibilities…
d. Create your own codes

      7. Be as detailed as possible. It will help you see the big picture of the situation
      8. Look at your drawing and see if you are not missing anything

Usually people are reticent at the beginning of the exercise because they may think that drawing is for children. Once people understand the power of drawing they will ask to start over because now they are familiar with the tool and want to really express their ideas. 

The final rich picture will help you see where the issues are. It will allow you to generate strategies to improve the situation or at least it will clarify the issue.

Useful links: from Learn with The Open University
Those 8 videos are very good at explaining what rich picture is and how you can use it. I recommend you to watch the video Work - The Art of Rich Pictures (7/8) if you want to go to the point. Otherwise, enjoy!

  1. Communicative Art - The Art of Rich Pictures (1/8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZH-NKqKF9A
  2. Icons & Signs - The Art of Rich Pictures (2/8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xjqPmvDHcY
  3. Rich Pictures - The Art of Rich Pictures (3/8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiCL29e_szA
  4. Using Rich Pictures - The Art of Rich Pictures (4/8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KdYE_HYNyQ
  5. Storytelling - The Art of Rich Pictures (5/8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGPVYQfdLIo
  6. Health - The Art of Rich Pictures (6/8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_s8IiwC2nw
  7.  Work - The Art of Rich Pictures (7/8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzzauPb2O34
  8. Big Picture Thinking - The Art of Rich Pictures (8/8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J030bU51ZEM

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