What do Bob Ross and the Business Rules Canvas have in common?

Door: Joost de Wit
Archive | Highlighted
Gepubliceerd: 15-12-2021
In the early 1990s, I loved watching ‘The joy of painting’, a television programme starring the painter Bob Ross. In just under 25 minutes, he took you from an empty canvas to a landscape with mountains, rivers, trees and huts, etcetera. More than 25 years later, Bob Ross was for me the linking pin to the Business Rules Canvas of SixBlocks. How about that?



Bob Ross

When I looked at Bob Ross, he surprised me every time. Within seconds, mountains with snow-covered slopes, trees with leaves, streams with waves or whatever were added to a painting. It was fascinating! And then, of course, there was the look and the voice of Bob Ross, which completed the inspiring character. With his afro hairstyle, his shirts and his quiet voice, he took you away. The construction of his paintings and his way of working were very interesting to me.


Shades of grey

Let’s have a closer look at one of his creations: “Shades of grey”. See here the broadcast on youtube. In the following explanation, reference is made in brackets to this broadcast.



Bob Ross starts with the rough background, in this case the clouds. With a broad brush, he brushes coarsely over the canvas, strikes the brush firmly and again brushes loosely over the canvas (from 0 min. 50 sec.). In the next phase, the contours of the snow-covered mountains are applied. With a palette knife, the paint is mixed and scraped firmly onto the canvas, which can be clearly seen and heard (from 4 min. 10 sec.). Bob Ross continues this for a while, working more and more towards the foreground.

With a finer brush, he tamps the trees (from 11 min. 30 sec.), after which he uses the broad brush, the palette knife and the finer brush to create the vegetation and the hut in the foreground (from 17 min. 30 sec.). Finally, sharp details appear, such as the tree next to the hut, in which Bob Ross cuts right through everything (from 24 min. 10 sec.). For a moment, you get the feeling that the painting is/will be completely ruined now. But no, it actually completes it and Bob Ross finds it “Fantastic”.



This pattern recurs in every painting by Bob Ross. It always goes from coarse to fine, looks simple and the materials used are explained transparently. All the details come out in this way. Moreover, he is flexible. If something accidentally goes “wrong”, he solves it with the same simplicity and transparency. In his broadcasts in “The joy of painting”, he involved the viewer in this process in a a way with humour.

I found and find that very fascinating and inspiring. Apparently, we humans can master something that at first glance seems complex in a humorous way. At least, if we are open to the patterns and explanations of “the master”.



Business Rules Canvas

The Business Rules Canvas from SixBlocks applies exactly the same pattern. Indeed, the platform always consists of three levels and the flow also goes from coarse to fine, the usage is simple, the underpinnings are transparent, it is flexibly customisable and the whole thing exudes humour:

  1. a rough sketch of the floor plan
  2. the contours on the memo board
  3. the details in the business rules


1. Plan

The overarching map is sketched by “painting” the relationship between the customer model, the product model and the process model on the Business Rules Canvas drag and drop. It is the rough sketch of the entire administrative organisation that gives an overview of the whole.

2. Memo board

By zooming in on the map of the Business Rules Canvas, business rules are initiated on the memo board by “painting” the memos on it.

3. Details

Then zooming in on a memo “paints” coloured details of the actual business rules.



With the six colours, the “painters” are in control because of the simplicity, transparency and flexibility that the Business Rules Canvas offers. The business rules very quickly create a completely working application. This makes the result “Fantastic” every time.



And then Bob Ross and the Business Rules Canvas have exactly the same first two initials: B.R.

Well, “coincidence is logical” I would say.

The Business Rules Canvas is not just fun. It is also a powerful philosophy for business processes. See the article “The Business Rules Canvas, how it started at Watersley and the Brightlands Campus“. Also read how Johan Cruijff inspired us to write “14 Cruijffianish sayings about SixBlocks“.

In subsequent articles, we will take you through the details of the Business Rules Canvas. If you want to know more about the corresponding ‘painting technique’ now, please contact us.




This article is written by:

Arvind Jagesser
Chief Executive Officer (Milvum)
Joost de Wit
Architect in combining human creativity and AI for sustainable business transformation.