The important ART of conversation #communication #engagement

Have you ever had one of those conversations that doesn’t seem to go anywhere? You may have been talking for a long time with the other people involved in your conversation but feel like none of you are really understanding what the other is trying to say.

Sound familiar?

Whilst most of the time this lack of understanding is frustrating, it doesn’t necessarily have immediate serious consequences for organisations. Time wasted, frustration and inefficiency are often the product of these type of unresolved conversations – not desirable but often not enough on their own to cause fatal damage to an organisation.

However, imagine if this lack of understanding related to the vision of the organisation. People not being able to understand, discuss and share the organisations vision (its DNA) accurately and understand what they need to do to make the vision a reality could ultimately be fatal.

The result of not understanding the organisations vision could include:

  • The wrong critical decisions being made.
  • Confusing messages being communicated to the public/customers.
  • Lack of engagement amongst employees.
  • Internal conflicts caused by differing views of what the organisations vision actually means and how it should be implemented.

So, how can people be helped to have the right conversations to enable them to fully understand an organisations vision (or indeed any other important information that needs to be communicated consistently and accurately)?

A visual representation of an organisations vision in the form of a rich picture provides a single-page engaging view of what can often be a complex story.

A rich picture created to communicate the vision of Solent NHS Trust

By showing the various elements of the vision and how they relate to each other in the form of a rich picture provides the following benefits:

  • Images (combined with the economical use of key words and phrases) enable your brain to process information more effectively and make linkages between ideas and concepts more easily.

  • Rich pictures by their nature are engaging. Initially people want to look at the picture and then they start wanting to read the detail. Not necessarily what happens when people are presented with a large PowerPoint deck or a lengthy report!

  • Rich pictures are accessible to all people at all levels in an organisation. They are designed to work for everyone regardless of role, length of service or seniority.

  • People can gather around a picture together (whether it’s in the form of a large poster, displayed on screen or used in a virtual meeting) and discuss what they are seeing. This process enables people to check and challenge their own perceptions of what the rich picture is communicating as well as beginning conversations about what the vision means in reality for them as an individual/team/organisation.

  • The rich picture creates a new common way of discussing the organisations vision (e.g. “You know the bit of the vision represented by the rocket ship…” etc). It is not uncommon for people to go into meetings with a copy of a rich picture for reference during meetings or events!

Of course, the whole process of using a rich picture needs to be well-managed and time needs to be made to allow people to review the rich picture both individually and as a team.

IAT Vision 2016 Small
A rich picture created for the Institute of Asphalt Technology

It’s also important to remember that a rich picture is not just a one-hit wonder. The rich picture will continue to provide a valuable method of discussing an organisations vision for the lifetime of the vision itself. And if required, rich pictures can be updated easily to reflect changes as they happen.

In summary, art (in the form of a rich picture) can play a hugely important role in helping organisations enable their people to understand, discuss and engage with their vision. This understanding, discussion and engagement with the organisational vision is critical. A well-designed rich picture could therefore be the artistic key to success for many organisations.

To find out more about rich pictures and visual thinking, please contact us, call +44 (0)775 282 6227 or visit

Published by John Ashton

I combine coaching, consultancy and visual thinking to help you grow your ideas and communicate your vision.

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