The big idea
The rich pictures technique was developed as part of a project looking at gathering information about complex situations (Checkland, 1981; Checkland & Scholes, 1990). The idea of using drawings or pictures to think about issues is common to several problem-solving or creative-thinking methods because our intuitive consciousness communicates more easily in impressions and symbols than in words. Drawings can both evoke and record insight into a situation and different visualisation techniques have evolved to help us gain this insight.
Rich pictures are used at an early stage in a process before all the elements of a project or process have been decided and the thinking can be kept very open. The approach is intended to unravel existing viewpoints and help you discover novel solutions or ideas. It can help change patterns of thinking in a group if you are doing it with others. The purpose of using the tool is to consider future opportunities for your business.
Figure 1 - Rich picture of an e-learning strategy by Prof. Gilly Salmon
The tool takes you through a number of steps to generate images of your business in the present and the future. Once you have created your images, it is good to discuss them with other people so, ideally, you would use this tool as a team or with a group. You can develop the drawings quickly and then take time to reflect on their meanings for your business.