Storytelling Masterclass in Oxford

Storytelling Rondon

Twenty years of working with stories and my very kind friends at Oxford Creativity have given me my own Storytelling day. Wednesday 16th May at Oxford University.

Looking at four perspectives on narrative I will be sharing as many of the key insights I can fit in between 9am and 5pm.

  1. Why Story?
  2. Working with story
  3. Your Story (and it’s close relationship with community)
  4. Storytelling

The day will include participatory exercises, book recommendations, hints and tips and an in depth explanation of some of the top tools and techniques. Hexagons, sharpies and willow magic wands/talking sticks will all be in abundance.

Further details on the day and how to book can be found here. Mention this blog when booking for a very special deal either on this day or on a combined Triz for Dummies and Storytelling. What better way to spend three days?

 

Complexity, citizen engagement – Dave Snowden at Tedx

Happy New Year. It is 2018, 20 years since Dave Snowden first introduced me to the wonders of narrative, 15 years since I attended my first cynefin training and 10 years since I did some of the early probe citizen engagement (Children of the world) experiments using Sensemaker.

In this video recorded at the recent Tedx event, Dave reveals how all three of the above have come together into a coherent approach to ethnography, complexity and most interestingly, change.

Watch carefully and make copious notes notes in your journal, then re-read and add your own perspectives on what it means to you.

Wildlife Adventures in Eastern Europe 2012-15 – a new book

david book

A good friend of mine, David Withrington, has just had a book published. I went with him, several years ago, on one of his adventures to Slovenia and had a hugely enjoyable and knowledge expanding time.

Wildlife Adventures in Eastern Europe 2012-15: Estonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia, Hungary and Slovakia – an illustrated account of summer visits by a group of naturalists from England. David Withrington and Paul Raven, 2017. 104 pages with 360 colour photographs. Available here from Natural History Book Service £12.50

What do staff of the statutory nature conservation agencies do when they retire? Go on holiday of course!

In June 2012, David Withrington, Paul Raven, Neil Hailey, Peter Marren and Steve Berry – all former staff of English Nature and its predecessor body – decided to visit Estonia, a country to which none of them had been before. The objective was to discover the country’s wildlife, especially the birds, butterflies and flowering plants. The accommodation and itinerary were arranged after online research by David.

The main features of Estonia are – its Baltic coastline, large areas of peat bog and Lake Peipsi, which sits on the border with Russia – though this did not seem to deter the birds. It was not just the amazing variety of wildlife and habits which made the holiday, but encounters with people, cultures and nightlife. All these are chronicled and illustrated in the book. The reader lives the journey with our intrepid adventurers. 

Continue reading “Wildlife Adventures in Eastern Europe 2012-15 – a new book”

At the Heart of Health

NESTA REPORT

I was very excited to hear that the RIPPLE Project, which emerged from a couple of workshops I facilitated in 2014 for the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (in partnership with Coventry University, the British Lung Foundation and local voluntary sector groups in Coventry), is beginning to gain momentum as a prime example of a “Person- and Community-centred approach for Health and Wellbeing.

Yesterday I facilitated a similar workshop in Wolverhampton of 45 patients, matrons, GPS, Hospice workers, Chaplaincy, fire service, community trust, Age UK & voluntary sector to bring together a community (and their assets) as part of a bid to become part of a second tier of six further similar projects in the West Midlands.

Anyway we found out that on Tuesday NESTA, the independent charity that works to increase the innovation capacity of the UK, had published its latest report entitled At the Heart of Health – Realising the value of people and communities, and that the RIPPLE Project was being held as a great example of enabling group activities that can be beneficial to support health and wellbeing.

What they highlight about the RIPPLE Project is:

Group activities in practice: RIPPLE – Respiratory innovation: Promoting a Positive Life Experience

People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) experience chronic ill health and are at risk of early death. The symptoms of COPD, including breathlessness and coughing, can lead to and amplify anxiety, low self-esteem and social isolation. These in turn lower mental wellbeing and can result in both poor self-management and a lack of engagement with key treatments, such as smoking cessation and pulmonary rehabilitation. People can become trapped in a negative cycle where poor self-management leads to worsening symptoms.

As part of the Health Foundation 2014 Shine Programme, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust took a whole systems approach to this challenge. A broad partnership was set up involving local patients and carers, primary and secondary care clinicians, academics, public health professionals, and third sector organisations to discuss and develop innovative solutions to the social isolation and anxiety observed in individuals with COPD.

After consultation with people living with COPD, the partners decided that an informal community-based clinic would act as a catalyst for increased involvement. This evolved into a group model which blended informal clinic and education sessions with social activities such as bingo, quizzes, singing and seated yoga every Monday afternoon in a community centre.

Results included:

  • Reduced social isolation and anxiety.
  • Increased mental wellbeing.
  • Improved confidence in ability to self-manage.

Preliminary evidence – involving a small number of patients – suggests that attending the RIPPLE programme regularly may reduce the number of unplanned hospital admissions. The patients involved in RIPPLE are chronically ill and as such, you would normally expect their condition to deteriorate, leading to an increase rather than a decrease in hospital admissions. The RIPPLE team has secured additional funding through the Health Foundation’s Spreading Improvement programme which will allow these findings to be further explored.

“Coming here, well, it’s given me a social life I didn’t have before…I feel like a fraud coming here now because I feel so good.”

A couple of other quotes from the report which is probably obvious why they appeal to me are:

In essence, asset-based approaches for health and wellbeing seek to create approaches that are participatory, enabling people to lead action for health, and are underpinned by a focus on what makes us healthy.

As with many community-centred approaches, this is an area where practice on the ground is ahead of the academic research. There is a lack of systematic or review-level academic evidence about asset-based approaches for health and wellbeing.

To date, evidence of effectiveness on asset-based approaches in the UK is limited to a few local, emergent solutions within particular contexts, with little practical guidance on how to put them into practice at scale.

The entire NESTA report can be accessed and downloaded here and is highly recommended.

Storytelling For Problem Solving & Better Decision Making

I have just been confirmed as speaker and seminar facilitator at the next NETIKX event in London on Tuesday afternoon 22nd March 2016. My challenge for the day is to demonstrate just what Participatory Narrative Inquiry methods can bring to resolving issues and problems and improving decision making.

NETIKX

If you have never heard of them before NetIKX is the Network for Information and Knowledge Exchange and with a membership fee of only £60 per annum which includes free admission to this and another five similar events over the year, you would be a fool not to join immediately. At London prices the wine alone is worth it.

Ecology of Knowledge – Menu of services

Ecology of Knowledge Menu V1 front

I have finally managed to create a menu of services that I am happy with. Click on either image to enlarge. The PDF version can be downloaded here, a version complete with prices is available on request..

Ecology of Knowledge Menu V1 no pricesand yes, before you ask, I do have 25 years experience of providing discos and music quizzes so why not end (or punctuate) your event with a participatory musical high.

Welcome to Narratopia, the story sharing game

DSCF0279

During one of our regular PNI skype chats, Cythia (Kurtz) happened to mention a new game she had created and was prototyping. Called Narratopia and now launched with its own website here but with a full explanation of the rules and ideas behind the game here. I quickly offered to be a guinea pig and a few days later, an airmailed pack arrived at my door.

I mentioned it to my friend Ian and he suggested a game in the Bainton Reading Room which is in a local village just to the North West of Peterborough. We had used this venue for a recent (local) Ted talks evening about storytelling..

Last week we all met up, a nice blue chequered table cloth and very nice red wine and the group of 5 of us set off playing.

It was a very interesting experience all round. We all thought we would just be sharing our own often told stories. The first story was one about an elderly parent in a care home being bought a mobility scooter. A great story that revealed a lot about the storyteller. My question card said “How do you feel about…” and I added “giving such freedom and mobility to your dad”. What followed was a period of deep thought and a true outpouring of emotion and warmth. The other questions were about quite technical and practical aspects of the story. At the end of this round my question was voted by far the best because “it really made me think about our relationship and remember those days so clearly”.

In writing this post I have just checked Cynthia’s blog about Narratopia and was pleased to read her comment about the games intent:

I realized that what should matter most in the game are connections and explorations, because that’s what people do when they share stories. They connect their experiences together, and they explore what their experiences mean.

DSCF0281

The game was deemed a great success by us all. Two hours of non-stop conversation and storytelling, linking stories and exploring our innermost feelings, loosely constrained and helped along by the questions and link cards. I collated everyone’s feedback and sent the pictures and comments to Cynthia in order to improve the playability of the game.

DSCF0292

Oh, and for the record my friend Ian won, so he is now the reigning champion of Bainton, Great Britain and, I think (as it was the first game played here) Europe. So what better prize for a European Narratopia Champion than a bottle of Whitby Heritage real ale.

Get your early order in now to Cythia as I think the first batch will sell out very quickly.

Ask the Audience

coventryEarlier this week I gave a presentation to the, student led, Proactive Project Management Conference at Coventry University.

Following a useful talk on Change Management by Jane Cosgrove of DHL, I decided to follow her lead in asking the attendees questions to build  greater engagement.

My first question (and remember the background of the students was mostly engineering/project management)was ” How many of you use TRIZ?” Answer – None. “How many of you know what TRIZ is?” Answer – None.

A little later, after explaining the cynefin framework with examples pulled  from their own context, Which cynefin domain do you think ‘putting on a conference like this’ should be? No votes for anything else other than ‘complicated’.

Ecosystem Thinking for Start-ups – A new workshop

startupseedIn another of my experiments I am, this month, piloting a new workshop/masterclass on developing Start-ups and SME’s. Most of my ecosystem thinking framework design came from working in Government and observing Knowledge Sharing and Innovation in very large commercial organisations. Whereas my experience over the last six years has been as a sole trader/start-up. So I reviewed my lessons learned over the years and have put together a workshop and associated ebook of the methods and tools I have found most useful and beneficial.

I am trial running two one-day workshops (by invitation only) in Peterborough on 22nd October and another in Reading on 4th November, then, subject to participant feedback, I hope to run these more regularly.

The workshop will be structured as a Participatory Narrative Inquiry event, very experiential, punctuated with a number of very useful tools I have picked up along the way. No Powerpoint slides, just face to face stories and instructions. An ebook will hopefully be available in time for the launch event.

My initial thoughts at a top 10 in the order they might be delivered:

  • Exploring what we know already.
  • What are the benefits of being a start-up and of what you do.
  • How to price your services.
  • Making sense of Customers and Products.
  • How to negotiate uncertainty. Predictability and approach.
  • Problem solving in Time and Space to increase your adaptability and resilience.
  • How to prioritise your efforts and creative ideas.
  • Storyboarding your ideas for maximum impact.
  • Managing workflow and measuring impact – focus and minimal wasted effort.
  • Your Social Media Footprint.

I am hoping to pitch these workshops to Development Agencies in Local Councils and Government funded bodies such as the ATI and KTNs, so if you have any connections or ideas around these I would be greatful to hear from you.