The Story Cookbook - Practical Recipes for Change

Reviewer : Mike Bagshaw

Edited by : Andrew Rixon and Cathryn Lloyd

I can see that this resource could become an essential 'cookbook' for the facilitator community.
Trainers and facilitators usually have their own golden nuggets. These are the exercises, games, simulations, etc, that always seem to work in terms of learning and engagement. But typically they protect these nuggets and are somewhat averse to sharing them. But this book shows a generosity of spirit. There is a wonderful array of 'recipes' being shared. The simple ('entrees') to complex ('mains') provide facilitators with fresh ideas to incorporate into a range of change programmes. I think I would give a slight 'health warning' with this menu. It seems to me to be a resource for seasoned facilitators who have experience or running group experiential activities. Having said that, we all have to learn somewhere and I suggest that experienced facilitators to help novices by inviting them to attend workshops and groups in which these activities are used. It may well be that a follow-up book on training facilitation skills using storytelling is in preparation.
Many of these activities can be particularly powerful in specific sessions or programmes. For example, some activities would be particularly pertinent for developing listening or empathy, or conflict resolution, or culture change. To find the right activity for a specific purpose one needs to search through the book. I wonder whether a matrix of some kind could have been designed to help the user navigate to the most suitable activities for their purpose.
We need good communication more than ever as issues become more polarised and divisive. Storytelling is a powerful way of uniting people whether in the community or in organisations. I applaud the generosity of the contributors and the readable style in which the activities are presented.

Mike Bagshaw (March, 2019)

Mike is a recently retired lecturer in leadership development at Worcester University, UK.

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