Story as theory of change

Story as theory of change

Hacking society's operating system
The power of stories

Stories invisibly govern our lives and are society's operating system. But what if we could hack the operating system? This day is a call to adventure to explore modern mythologies and how to crack open and replace them.

Learning by having fun

We'll unlock your creative eye with exercises, a magic trick or two, then plunge down the rabbit hole of story. There will be interaction, noisemakers, and trouble aplenty.

campaigners, fundraisers, media officers, digital experts, communicators, designers, etc.
£350 (including lunch)
negotiable for small organisations or people doing great work on a shoestring
London (TBC)
Book now ⇒ Export event to your calendar.

When facts don't win. When our hearts are sore. When our spirits are flagging. The old story of activism is crumbling around us -- it's time to set out on a new adventure. The greatest stories are stories of the triumph of the human spirit, of beating epic odds, of rising to the challenges we face. They're stories that call out to people to be a part of them. And here's a secret: What makes those stories great are not the flights of fancy to which they rise, but the depths of the truth which they unearth. Let's change the story. Let's change the world.


Everyone loves a good story. But sometimes it's hard to see the stories that invisibly govern our lives and the lives of the audiences we want to inspire. Some of those stories form the very operating system of society: what if we could hack that operating system?

This session will be a call to adventure: we'll look at some of the stories that function as modern mythologies -- the explanations of the invisible forces that make the world as it is. We'll look at the possibility of cracking them open, and replacing them with better stories.

In the afternoon, we'll do some practical exercises in mapping a campaign or project's story elements and using story as a communication tool.

What You'll Learn

How to parse a campaign or project into story elements and be aware of the role your organisation plays in that story: the archetype you fill, the gift you give, the monster you want to slay, and the call to adventure that you make to your audience. We'll also turn the tables, and consider how the monster might tell the story of your efforts. I'll share the process and results by which the Story Team at Greenpeace International created not only a unifying organisational story, but a 7-point culture change agenda to match it. We'll examine some of the stories that are holding back a more beautiful world, and consider how we can crack them open, replace them with better stories.


My, that's a big word, methodology, isn't it? This is learning by having fun: we'll unlock your creative eye with some exercises, a magic trick or two, then plunge down the rabbit hole of story. I promise you'll come out of this session with a new pair of eyes for looking at how to reach an audience and how to inspire them to action, and with our appetite whetted for much bigger mythological game than activism is currently stalking.


Dancing Fox’s workshop on storytelling grabbed the MA Media, Campaigning and Social Change students' attention from the start and held them spellbound till the end of the day. The balance of fun, deep thinking and actual storytelling in Mister Fox's workshop is just right. The students came away energised and with new insights into the layers of thinking and planning needed to develop high quality storytelling. The best attended class of the term, and the energy levels stayed sky high throughout. Please come back next year!
-Michaela O'Brien, Westminster University

I want to thank you so much for your inspiring and fantastic workshop yesterday! With your input I wrote today's newsletter copy and our editor did not change a single word! This is absolutley extraordinary - it never happens. And it's all thanks to you... I'm so excited - and so glad that I attended to the workshop.
--Simone Kater, Campact

I was inspired, engaged, and encouraged!
--Ainsley Beattey, Transition Network

The story mapping technique that Dancing Fox teaches brought me to a Eureka moment in my ongoing grappling with a narrative around refugees. I will heartily recommend their workshop to others.
--Stefan Simanowitz, Media Manager Europe, Turkey, and the Balkans, Amnesty International


Story as Theory of Change
08:45-09:00 Check in: grab your name tag and say hello! You also might want to grab a cup of coffee or tea
09:00-09:30 Welcome and introduction: An overview of the training day. Introductions: the story of your name.
09:30-10:30 Story as theory of Change: A brief introduction, which will be briefly interrupted with an exercise in hopes dashed and hope renewed, involving a bit of rope.
10:30-11:00 Case study: Story at Greenpeace
11:00-11:30 Break
11:30-13:00 Story Arc: interactive exercise on how to recognise story elements, map them to existing narratives, and build narratives around your call to action (call to adventure)
13:00-14:00 Lunch (included) & table discussions
14:00-15:30 Personal storytelling as activism: The story of Me, the Story of Us, the Story of Now.
15:30-16:00 Break
16:00-17:00 Reasons to believe: The power of positive storytelling. The Earth is about to be paved over to make way for an intergallactic highway. The planning board is hearing arguments for rerouting, but has reports that the planet is doomed anyway due to a virus known as “Humans” who are cruel to one another and the planet they inhabit. Each participant has two minutes to tell a story that makes the case why there’s actually hope for the species and the planet.
17:00-17:20 Participant Q&A / Discussion time. What have we learned, what doesn't make sense, what was good and what could be better, and WTF was that whole thing with the rope about?
17:20-17:30 Warm milk and a bed-time story.
17:30 End of training day
About the Trainer

Brian Fitzgerald, Dancing FoxBrian Fitzgerald worked for 35 years with Greenpeace as an activist, deck hand, technologist, hot air balloon pilot, communications director, and digital explorer. He and a small pirate team of story tellers at Greenpeace crafted a new organisational story for Greenpeace, and a culture change agenda to match: The Greenpeace Story and the 7 Shifts. Together with Tommy Crawford, he founded Dancing Fox Ltd in 2016, an agency dedicated to "mischief, magic, and mind bombs."

Lucy Taylor, Dancing FoxLucy Taylor was with communications consulting firm eatbigfish when she brought her talents as a professional facilitator, improvisational actress, and big-picture thinker to the task of crafting the story of Greenpeace. As a member of On Your Feet, she's been a part of performances that blur the line between art and activism. Her superpowers include singing, cold-water swimming, and being a mom. She really likes puppets

by Duane Raymond published Jan 31, 2013,