Rich Pictures

I’m doing a bit of work with Rich Pictures at the moment. I’m quite enjoying the storyboard elements of the process.

For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about then here is an example from the Open University:


Basis isn’t it? That’s the point.

There are a number of elements to a Rich Picture:

  • pictorial symbols;
  • keywords;
  • cartoons;
  • sketches;
  • symbols;
  • title.

The most interesting part for me is the “cartoons” part. As business people we can be so “professional” that we want things to look great from the start with fancy graphics. Rich Pictures allow us to step back and to deal in symbols and icons to depict an issue.

The challenge I am anticipating is that the Rich Pictures that I have created will need to go through a review cycle with “professional” people. As such I am going to have to battle the tendency to water down the message that comes with reviews. The challenge that I am wanting to depict is a big challenge with lots of facets to it. if we review it too heavily we will make it look far simpler and remove all of the value.

3 thoughts on “Rich Pictures”

  1. Hello, I am a student at Heriotwatt Uni in Scotland. I am producing a research paper on rich pictures and am struggling to find others with interest in tthe subject. I would appreciate your thoughts and to hear back from you if the following Abstract is of interest. Yours Tessa Berg

    Soft System Methodology developed by Peter Checkland seeks to provide a systematic approach to ill-defined and complex problem situations. Checkland offers a non destructive approach to system improvement, thus ensuring best value and human ownership This holistic methodology uses the rich picture which is apparently un-structured and free form to elicit knowledge and information.
    Ontology defines what exists in a particular domain and what relevant relationships can be used to express a common understanding. Domain Ontology creation suggests that there are constraints when studying real world situations from the rich picture. This paper seeks to discover whether the rich picture can be presented in a particular domain by using a common pictorial understanding. What are the symbols and pictures that are understood by a world wide audience and at what point does a particular domain suggest the need for abstraction and explicit assumption? If the rich picture is used in SSM to provide discussion and shared understanding of the ‘problem’ then is there not a need for a common pictorial language ensuring no misinterpretations of the domain. This paper will take examples from case studies from the health care and academic domains examining the associated rich pictures for similarities and associations.


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