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How People Use Rich Pictures to Help Them Think and Act

Abstract:

How People Use Rich Pictures to Help Them Think and Act Simon BellGroups 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.

Introduction

Our focus here is on the rich picture, a free form type of diagrammatic representation which has a wide role of functions within human artifice, but especially as a tool to help groups arrive at a consensual analysis of a situation. In a more extended work we have discussed the importance of the way in which groups of people make use of diagrams (Bell and Morse 2010). In this brief paper we will provide some background to the antecedence of rich pictures and to the way in which some have used them in groups and for group work. However, our main aim here is to describe in detail how rich pictures can be used to tell the inner most story of the group – sometimes the unconscious and occult story – and can help the group to move forward. Our proposition is that rich pictures are a valuable output in themselves and deserve far greater attention that we perhaps pay them when they are typically seen as but one step within a bigger process.

Springer Link

Bell, S. and Morse, S. 2013. How People Use Rich Pictures to Help Them Think and Act. Systemic Practice and Action Research. 26, pp. 331 – 348.

Triple Task Method: Systemic, Reflective Action Research

Abstract:

Triple Task Method: Systemic, Reflective Action Research Simon Bell

This brief article introduces a new methodology for systemic action research — Triple Task (TT) — and sets out its rationale and initial progress in becoming an embedded method for group working. Arising from the authors previous work with soft systems approaches, the Imagine method for sustainable development assessment and action research in a variety of global locations, TT provides a means for groups to engage together in purposive work and, at the same time, for facilitators to understand how the dynamic of the group influences the groups output. TT is based on an ambitious concept and at the time of writing the results of TT applied in the context of an EU Framework 7 funded project are in their early stages but importantly, significant insights are already arising including the answers to some puzzling questions:

  • Do purposeful groups always produce the most insightful outcomes?
  • Do conflictual groups produce incoherent results?
  • What makes a ‘good’ group?

Background

Triple Task (TT) is a unique form of participatory action research in the sense that not only does it attempt to arrive at answers to research questions but also tries to understand what factors may have been at play in arriving at those answers. This attribute makes TT an advance on many other participatory techniques which are more focussed on delivering outputs (representing an apparent ‘consensus’) and less concerned (if at all) on the dynamic behind that ‘consensus’ and how the process may have influenced what was produced.

Participatory research takes many forms but the underlying philosophy is that all those involved—be they ‘researcher’ or ‘researched’—are involved in the design of a research process as well as the interpretation of findings. Power should be shared rather than being concentrated in the hands of a researcher. As a result the very process of doing the research can provide many insights and help bring about positive change. Hence the term ‘action research’; a research process that catalyses action.

Springer Link

PDF Link

Bell, S. and Morse, S. 2010. Triple Task Method: Systemic, Reflective Action Research. Systemic Practice and Action Research. DOI 10.1007/s11213-010-9171-7