Rich Pictures: a means to explore the 'Sustainable Group Mind'

Bell, Simon and Morse, Stephen (2010). Rich Pictures: a means to explore the 'Sustainable Group Mind'. In: The 16th annual international sustainable development research conference, 30 May - 01 Jun 2010, Hong Kong, China.



The European Union Framework Package 7 project POINT (Policy Influence of Indicators) is exploring the use of indicators in several domains (most specifically sustainable development) in order to see how their value and ultimate usefulness can be maximised. One key aspect of POINT is to assess the ways in which groups and communities work to gain greatest use of information. Using an innovative methodology called 'Triple Task', the authors are applying a three cornered approach in order to gain an understanding as to how groups work, how they assesses themselves and how they appear to function from an external perspective.
In this paper, the first stage of Triple Task is described and explored. Task One is effectively a 'soft' means for a group to work together on problem identification and action planning, and the key to this is the device is known as the Rich Picture. Rich Pictures have been used in group work for over thirty years, primarily as a means for the group to express its preliminary vision concerning a matter of common concern, but so far they have not been applied as means to explore the conscious and unconscious workings of a group nor have they been assessed in terms of their content and 'message'. Indeed given their popularity amongst advocates and practitioners of 'stakeholder participation' there is a surprising dearth of literature on Rich Pictures as an analytical and reflective device.
By use of a matrix review involving a four way analysis of the Rich Picture form and content, the authors show how the Rich Picture can be assessed and its 'story' used to find the underlying and occluded – the acroamatic (the spoken level of dialogue behind the explicit.) messages of a group – often containing impressions and ideas not consciously realised by the group. By understanding the group mind as represented in picture the authors begin to make a deeper understanding of the groups own potential to use and exploit information of all kinds and to move towards a deeper Sustainable Group Mind', and more focused means to problem solve.

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