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Tales for Change

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Tales for Change

Using Storytelling to Develop People and Management

Kogan Page,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Once upon a time, businesses used stories to ease people through tough changes. Then, they could live happily ever after.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


A book of tales must rise or fall on the quality of the stories it presents. And in that regard, this storybook earns a mixed report card. Most of the stories are clear and pithy, although some hint at change without being directly related to it. A case in point is "The Old Man and his Grandson," a brief moral tale about the need to demonstrate empathy and the fact that everyone grows older. Other stories, however, are perfectly apropos and even come with a hint of humor to prod listeners to accept change. Unnervingly, some of the less engaging stories come from author Margaret Parkin’s personal experiences. On the other hand, her informative introduction makes a compelling case for the power of narrative in introducing and abetting transformation. She supplies excellent questions for further study after each story to keep the discussion on point. Overall, getAbstract recommends this book to those who would like to add a few new anecdotes to their quiver. If just one helps spur your organization be more flexible, that will be a success story worth telling.


Transformational Stories

Remember the story of the ugly duckling who becomes a beautiful swan? Or the frog who turns into a handsome prince? Or the poor scullery maid who is magically transformed into a lovely princess? These stories and many more suggest that storytelling has been a handmaiden of change from very early in human history. In fact, many classic tales are about change. Since the days when oral traditions were handed down around camp fires, storytelling has helped people manage the turmoil of change.

Today, storytelling remains profoundly energized. Stories can help cast the future in a positive, optimistic light, give hope, provide a common approach to change and present moral examples. Stories can encourage people to tell about their dreams and worries. If you use stories to introduce material in your training programs, people will retain the information longer. Stories stimulate curiosity and offer extended metaphors for transition. Consider:

  • "Once upon a time" - This is the status quo before the transition.
  • "Then one day" - Disruption of the status quo, a problem is encountered.
  • "Because of this" - A new approach is adopted...

About the Author

Margaret Parkin is the founder and principal of Training Options, a British management and personnel development firm. She has worked with major organizations for more than 20 years. Parkin has a Master’s in Training and Development, as well as a Master Practitioner qualification in neurolinguistic programming. A practiced speaker, she has written two other books, Tales for Trainers and Tales for Coaching.

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