Story as theory of change (2016)

Story as theory of change (2016)

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.
£400 (including lunch)
Oxford, UK
Export event to your calendar.


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.


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."

by Duane Raymond published Jan 31, 2013,