Systemic Practice and Action Research

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 331–348 | Cite as

How People Use Rich Pictures to Help Them Think and Act

  • Simon Bell
  • Stephen Morse
Original Paper


Groups of all kinds are complex organisations. To understand them and to facilitate them in process terms is a matter of rich and diverse discourse in varied fields from sustainable development to coastal ecology; from bandwidth in rural communities to health service provision. How to allow groups to discourse, problem solve and review their own issues and concerns? Diagrams in general and rich pictures in particular can be great means to allow groups to explore their subconscious, their occult sentiments and conflicted understandings. This paper explores and explains diverse use of pictures and shows how they can be applied and understood in group processes of all kinds.


Rich pictures Assessment Participatory research 


  1. Barrett T (1994) Criticizing art: understanding the contemporary. Mayfield Publishing Company, Mountain ViewGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell S, Morse S (2007) Story telling in sustainable development projects. Sustain Dev 15(2):97–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bell S, Morse S (2010) Rich pictures: a means to explore the ‘Sustainable Mind’? Sustain Dev. doi: 10.1002/sd.497
  4. Bell S, Morse S (2012) Resilient participation: saving the human project? Earthscan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Buzan T (1992) Use your head. BBC Publications, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Carney JD (1994) A historical theory of art criticism. J Aesthet Educ 28(1):13–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Checkland P (1972) Towards a systems based methodology for real-world problem solving. J Syst Eng 3(2):87–116Google Scholar
  8. Checkland P (1975) The development of systems thinking by systems practice—a methodology from an action research program. Prog Cybern Syst Res 2:278–283Google Scholar
  9. Checkland PB (1981) Systems thinking, systems practice. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  10. Checkland PB, Scholes J (1990) Soft systems methodology in action. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  11. Churchman CW (1979) The systems approach: revised and updated. Dell Publishing Co. Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Clements RD (1979) The inductive method of teaching visual art criticism. J Aesthet Educ 13(3):67–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fathulla K (2008) Understanding diagrams: a pointer to the development of diagramming software. Visible Lang 42(3):265–284Google Scholar
  14. Hungerland H (1947) Suggestions for procedure in art criticism. J Aesthet Art Crit 5(3):189–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lankford EL (1984) A phenomenological methodology for art criticism. Stud Art Educ 25(3):151–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lewis PJ (1992) Rich picture building in the soft systems methodology. Eur J Inf Syst 1(5):351–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Marguiles N, Maal N (2002) Mapping inner space. Corwin Press, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  18. McCloud S (1993) Understanding comics: the invisible art. Harper Collins Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Munro T (1928) Scientific method in æsthetics. W. W. Norton & Company Inc., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Open University (1987) T301—Complexity Management and Change: a systems approach. Open University Systems Group. The Open University Press, Milton KeynesGoogle Scholar
  21. Open University (1997) Management information systems T843. Open University, Milton KeynesGoogle Scholar
  22. Open University (2000a) T306 managing complexity: a systems approach. Open University, Milton KeynesGoogle Scholar
  23. Open University (2000b) T552: systems thinking and practice: diagramming. Open University, Milton KeynesGoogle Scholar
  24. Phaal R, Farrukh C, Probert D (2009) Visualising strategy: a classification of graphical roadmap forms. Int J Technol Manage 47(4):286–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Van Meel-Jansen A (2006) The magical number five in art appreciation. Empir Stud Arts 24(1):107–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Communication and Systems Department, Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and TechnologyOpen UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Centre for Environmental StrategyUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK

Personalised recommendations