Picture This!

Article by
Sarah Gibson

A peach of an idea.

It’s August 2011. I’m sitting in a restaurant in Toronto, Canada, having dinner with my husband, and Redvespa founder, Richard. He keeps suggesting I should use the bathroom, I’m not sure why! Eventually, I do actually need to use the bathroom. I head in that direction and when I return to the table having not known which door to go through, Richard has this cheeky grin on his face. He knew I would have no idea how to interpret the visuals used to let people know which bathroom might be theirs. I’m more of a word person.

Following that dinner, we treated ourselves to a cocktail in a high-end hotel in Toronto, watching the celebs arrive in their chauffeur driven limousines. I felt very underdressed. On the glass table in front of us sat a book of cocktails. Each double page consisted of a beautiful colour image of the completed cocktail and a recipe for the cocktail. 

It gave me an idea.

Fortunately, we embrace ideas at Redvespa. No matter how random they’re always better shared. Others can add their perspective and insight and together we can decide whether it’s an idea worth pursuing and work worth doing.

Some people, like me, need words. Most people, however, prefer visuals. The cocktail book had both. I had the idea that Redvespa could produce our own version of the cocktail book - a book of the most-used diagrams in the world of business analysis. I slipped the cocktail book into my handbag, fortunately not a tiny glittery clutch purse that others in the bar were carrying, and brought it home to Redvespa.

Getting to the pit of the peach.

I talked about my idea at our annual Redvespa ‘Getaway’ to see if any volunteers might be interested in the concept and want to design and develop a book of diagrams. Ieuan Wickham (Senior Consultant) and Julie Radcliffe (then a Consultant, now Practice Lead) bravely took on the challenge to lead the business through producing Picture This! 

Ieuan and Julie worked tirelessly for many months and pulled together the diagrams and their uses with many consultants contributing their favourite diagrams. 

It couldn’t all be about the creation of content though. This was new for us and we needed to understand what we were courageously taking on. 

We engaged a publisher to help us consider everything required to publish a book and sought legal advice to ensure we weren't breaching any copyright rules. This added a layer of discipline to the project to help deliver a valuable considered product. Our designer, Gemma McCabe, worked alongside the team to come up with graphic design.

We celebrated the final production of Picture This! with a party and ‘book signing’ at our 2012 Getaway - Julie and Ieuan had pride of place behind tables laden with copies of Picture This! and we all lined up to get their autographs.  

The work was meaningful and purposeful for the whole team involved - sharing their knowledge among themselves and with the wider business analysis community. We all learnt so much from the experience and it proved to be an example of outstanding collaboration led by two passionate Redvesparites. We did many print runs of Picture This!, gifting it to our clients and anyone who attended IIBA conferences in New Zealand. They loved it. In 2013 we produced an online version which could be downloaded from our website. 

I am still so proud of the final product and how it positioned us as a provider of trusted analysis, always evolving our craft to make a difference for the wider community. 

Our product development approach has evolved. We still bring our unique creative and fearless approach, but we’ve learnt to become more customer driven with market validation front of mind when someone comes up with the next crazy idea.

Back to the book ... and the bathroom.

In 2023, the next crazy idea wasn't actually all that crazy, as we went back to Picture This! and looked at it through the lens of 20 years in business and the associated evolution of visualisation, business, and business analysis.

A new team of BAs led the charge, assessing the original version against everything they know now, with Ieuan and Julie in the background to keep an eye on their baby. I'm once again very proud of the final result and excited to be able to share it with our wider community for free - download your copy here.

Oh, and I did use the bathroom in that fateful restaurant, but only after I saw a woman enter through the door with a peach on the front of it.

Header image from Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

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