The Big Picture
The Big Picture is an organisational development framework for identifying the strengths and areas for improvement of an organisation across all of its activities. It is similar to the EFQM Excellence Model in that it is non-prescriptive and does not involve strictly following a set of rules or standards, but provides a broad and coherent set of assumptions about what is required for a good organisation and its management.1 It is designed around the planning cycle and essentially operates by:
Each organisation can use The Big Picture in its own way to manage improvement, under the control of those who use the methods rather than an external evaluator. The Big Picture has been designed for and by the voluntary sector.
The Big Picture seeks to provide organisations with an approach that treats quality and impact issues in a holistic way. Its starting point suggests that an organisation can be defined by the ‘results’ it brings about and the ‘enablers’ that help to make them happen. There are four sections to the model. ‘Results’ in the model are interpreted as things that have a positive impact and ensure stakeholder satisfaction. ‘Enablers’ suggest that an organisation needs the right direction and appropriate processes in order to achieve the results. Each quadrant is then broken down into sixfurther strands.
The approach suggests bringing as many people as possible together in a room. According to the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), who developed the tool, a typical session might include:
The Big Picture comes in the form of a workbook. Each strand in the four quadrants, such as ‘Governance’ under ‘Direction’, is explained in two pages of the workbook. These identify the key issues and list a series of tough questions to think about. There are also non-prescriptive practical ideas for action, case studies of other organisations that have used the particular strand to help improve their organisation, and an ability to ‘score’ the organisation’s performance in each area. It is possible to use the tool in ‘bite-sized’ chunks. Essentially, the framework asks questions of an organisation and assesses the need for change and then offers some practical ideas to plan, implement and review that change. The actions taken following that process are left with the organisation itself.
The model has wide applicability to organisations of any size, in all stages of development in the voluntary sector both in the UK and internationally.
As with other frameworks, The Big Picture will be most effective if all staff are motivated and behind it. For a thorough diagnosis of the whole organisation’s activities, senior members will need to be involved in some capacity, but it has also been used by some organisations for a personal review of an individual’s work, for a training needs analysis, business plan analysis and as a stakeholder consultation tool, each of which has different leadership needs.
Proficiencies or skills
In general, no specialist skills are required. The framework seeks to ‘get people talking’ and so an ability to facilitate discussion (in a variety of forms) will be useful.
This will vary upon what the organisation uses the tool for. It may be used by an individual during a day or an hour to focus on one or two issues, or it is possible to use it to systematically address all the organisation’s activities over several months. Organisations can involve paid and voluntary staff, service users, customers and other stakeholders in the process.
Courses, support, and information
The Big Picture website contains basic resources, contacts and information on the tool and on-line group facilitation for organisations who want to hold group sessions but have difficulty with travel or access. The companion guide Getting Started with The Big Picture is recommended for people who want to ‘do it themselves’.
In Scotland ‘peer supporters’ can show you how to use The Big Picture and can facilitate sessions. For a fee, SCVO can train people how to facilitate using the framework. The Peer Support Network is free for anyone who has a role to play in developing organisations, whichever framework or system they use. To join this virtual network, go to www.scvo.org.uk/peersupport
The Big Picture is produced by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO). As of the start of 2009 the SCVO was reviewing its support packages for The Big Picture.
The Big Picture itself costs between approximately £50 and £80 depending on whether your organisation is a member of SCVO and whether you are able to pay in advance.
Organisations that have used The Big Picture:
The Learning Team,
SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations),
Mansfield Place, Edinburgh,
Tel: 0131 556 3882 Fax: 0131 556 0279
In Scotland, SCVO can be contacted for Peer Supporters. Organisations in England can contact their local Council for Voluntary Service http://www.nacvs.org.uk/
1. The Big Picture suggests that non-prescriptive changes should relate to the needs of an organisation not an external set of rules laid down by others.
I feel that its main value to us is as a facilitating tool supporting the development of consensus, involvement and focused intervention in concerns expressed by residents and staff.
North Ayrshire Women’s Aid, in Sneak Preview, An Introduction to The Big Picture, www.thebigpic.org.uk
People have found it user friendly, easy to pick up and not too jargonny.
Befriending Network Scotland, www.bigpic.org.uk