I need help drawing the rich picture

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I need help drawing the rich picture

Postby slickpiper on Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:25 pm

i have been trying to draw the rich picture for two days now and i still cant get how to draw it. i have mapped out the entities(S.E.G, board of trustees, regional director, human resource, finance dept, funding bodies.) but do not know how to connect them in away that makes uttermost sense. when i try i get lost half way
please i will deeply appreciate all the help i can get to draw a reasonable picture.
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Re: I need help drawing the rich picture

Postby Teiana on Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:31 pm

rich pictures can be quite hard to do.
sometimes with a rich picture, it's the process of drawing it that is more important than the picture.

this might be hard to explain: if you buy an exercise bike, you can use it to get fit. If you go running, you can get fit, but there's no 'thing' (like the bike) to buy, to show the way you are getting fit. It's the process of running that works. If you make a sign graph or a multiple cause diagram, it can be easier than with a rich picture to show/see how it can be used to explain things. Like owning the exercise bike. Drawing the rich picture is like running.. afterwards it can be hard to 'see what you did', but the process itself can be useful.

I would say, start with a blank page and give yourself 60 seconds to draw the first things about the situation than come to mind. Then look away for a few seconds, turn the page upside down perhaps, and look again to see what you notice about the picture. Note down what you noticed, then give yourself another 60 seconds to add to it. and so on.. The things you 'noticed' as you gradually create the picture can help explain the picture.

For example, some rich pictures:
have very tiny things drawn in them. this can suggest that the drawer feels a long way away from them, or that the things are unimportant, or that there are a great number of things

have a lot of empty space on the page. this can suggest the drawer thinks the things are not really connected to each other, or that there are unknowns in the situation, or this can be a result of the things being drawn being very small ( see above).

think about what you might interpret from the way you have drawn the picture.. pretend you are analysing someones dream, perhaps..
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Re: I need help drawing the rich picture

Postby jim_lewis1 on Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:53 pm

I don't know how much you already know about diagramming so forgive me if this is stuff you know.

there's some useful stuff on the OpenLearn site, (the freely available content from the Open University)

This is about diagrams in general, search units for 552 and 553 at OpenLearn


A more directly relevant resource regarding the purposes of different systems diagramming techninques is here:


and some more stuff about systems thinking in general is here:


Click on the thinking tab.

HTH and welcome to the Systems Place!
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Re: I need help drawing the rich picture

Postby jim_lewis1 on Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:55 pm

and with reference to your particular case study, it might be that the thing that connects all those people are the children the agency is trying to support, could that be a useful starting point?
Current OU study: A230
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Re: I need help drawing the rich picture

Postby Neill on Wed Sep 15, 2010 7:08 pm


I agree with Teiana that with a rich picture it is as much about the process of drawing as the drawing its self.

But I would also mention that things do not need to be connected.
You can just draw the "things" that come to mind.
Page 26 of David Bradley's project at http://voyager.open.ac.uk/vwebv/holding ... bId=417647
is maybe a good example.

Just doodle the things that come to mind as you think about the situation.
The less you "consciously think" about the drawing, the more likely you are to doodle something interesting which as Teiana then said you can think about why you drew that and maybe discover something.

Sounds strange but it works.
Have fun and welcome to TSP

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Re: I need help drawing the rich picture

Postby Andrea on Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:12 am

Neill wrote:The less you "consciously think" about the drawing, the more likely you are to doodle something interesting which as Teiana then said you can think about why you drew that and maybe discover something.

I absolutely agree with both Neill and Teiana that the rich picture technique is extremely useful for revealing subconscious intuitions about a complex situation, and that the process is just as important, if not more important, than the end product. But I do understand how people can struggle with the 'process' bit. A couple of years ago I came across a rather brilliant piece of writing that I thought captured an approach one could take for drawing a rich picture. This little magical extract from Peter Elbow, titled ‘Desperation Writing’, might come in handy (just substitute the words write/writing with rich picture diagram/diagramming):

I know I am not alone in my recurring twinges of panic that I won't be able to write something when I need to, I won't be able to produce coherent speech or thought. And that lingering doubt is a great hindrance to writing. It's a constant fog or static that clouds the mind. I never got out of its clutches till I discovered that it was possible to write something – not something great or pleasing but at least something usable, workable – when my mind is out of commission. The trick at such times is to do all your cooking out on the table: your mind is incapable of doing any inside. It means using symbols and pieces of paper not as a crutch but as a wheelchair.

The first thing is to admit your condition: because of some mood or event or whatever, your mind is incapable of anything that could be called thought. It can put out a babbling kind of speech utterance, it can put a simple feeling, perception, or sort-of-thought into understandable (though terrible) words. But it is incapable of considering anything in relation to anything else. The moment you try to hold that thought or feeling up against some other to see the relationship, you simply lose the picture – you get nothing but buzzing lines or waving colours.

So admit this. Avoid anything more than one feeling, perception, or thought. Simply write as much as possible. Try simply to steer your mind in the direction or general vicinity of the thing you're trying to write about and start writing and keep writing.

Just write and keep writing. (Probably best to write on only one side of the paper in case you should want to cut parts out with scissors – but you probably won't). Just write and keep writing. It will probably come in waves. After a flurry, stop and take a brief rest. But don't stop too long. Don't think about what you are writing or what you have written or else you will overload the circuit again. Keep writing as though you are drugged or drunk. Keep doing this till you feel you have a lot of material that might be useful; or, if necessary, till you can't stand it any more – even if you doubt that there is anything useful there.

Then take a pad of little pieces of paper – or perhaps 3x5 cards – and simply start at the beginning of what you were writing, and as you read over what you wrote, every time you come to any thought, feeling, perception, or image that could be gathered up into one sentence one assertion, do so and write it by itself on a little sheet of paper. In short, you're trying to turn, say ten or twenty pages of wondering mush into twenty or thirty hard little crabapples. Sometimes there won't be any on the page. But if it seems to you that there are none on a page, you are making a serious error – the same serious error that put you in this comatose state to start with. You are mistaking lousy, stupid, second rate, wrong, childish, foolish, worthless ideas for no ideas at all. Your job is not to pick out good ideas but to pick out ideas. You were conscious and therefore your words will be full of things that could be called feelings, utterances, ideas – things that can be squeezed into one simple sentence. This is your job. Don't ask for too much.

After you have done this, take those little slips or cards, read through them a number of times – not struggling with them, simply wandering and mulling through them; perhaps shifting them around and looking through them in various sequences. In a sense these are cards you are playing solitaire with, and the rules of this particular game permits shuffling the unused pile.

The goal of this procedure with the cards is to get them to distribute themselves into two or three or ten or fifteen different piles on your desk. You can get them to do this almost by themselves if you simply keep reading through them in different orders; certain cards will begin to feel like they go with the other cards. I emphasise this passive, thoughtless mode because I want to talk about desperation writing in its pure state. In practice, almost invariably at some point in the procedure, your sanity begins to return. It is often at this point. You actually are moved to have thoughts or – and the difference between active and passive is crucial here – to exert thought: to hold two cards together and build or assert a relationship. It is a matter of bringing energy to bear.

So you may start to be able to do something active with these cards, and begin actually to think. But if not, just allow the cards to find their own piles with each other by feel, by drift, by intuition, my mindlessness.

You have now engaged in the two main activities that will permit you to get something cooked out on the table rather than in your brain: writing out into messy words, summing up into single assertions, and even sensing relationships between assertions. You can simply continue to deploy these two activities.

Desperation writing seemed magic when I first discovered how to do it. As though I had found secret powers and was getting something for nothing: new ideas where formerly I was barren; structure where formerly I remained stuck in chaos.

Elbow, P. (1986) Embracing Contraries, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
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Re: I need help drawing the rich picture

Postby Karen on Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:00 pm


I don't think I very often had connections in my Rich Pictures - they were more lots of different sections on the page depicting different perspectives or issues. The connection was that they were relating to the same topic.

I also found it useful to think of phrases to draw - so things like the 'strong arm of the law' or 'hitting a brick wall' made me come up with an illustration such as an arm with a big muscle or a wall with someone hitting it or people on each side of it. To help come up with these think about the people in the situation and then say they behave like..... or they feel... etc. So if say you think a govenment agency doesn't engage with a group at all, draw a door with 'government' written on a plaque with a big no entry sign on it.

Remember that you would normally be talking someone through it to explain what you have drawn, its not meant to be completely understandable to someone else. Doodle drawings that depict what you see and don't worry about connecting it all up.

Hope this helps.

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