My Favourite Story

Name of the tool:


What the result will look like:

A collection of stories, ranked and interpreted

Description of the tool:

This method focuses around a group discussion where participants discuss and rank stories, to find the favourite story of the group that best illustrates a certain theme.

The facilitator leading this activity firstly collects and edits stories that can illustrate notable moments (i.e. “the positive effects of clowning on older people or children”). Then, a group reviews the set of “special moments” narratives, each participant chooses a favourite story. In the end, as a group, they come to a consensus about their favourite story overall and describe the reasons why.

The group discussion can take 90 minutes to two hours and is organised in six parts:
1. Introduction: Facilitators welcome participants, obtain informed consent, and lead an icebreaker for participants to introduce themselves.
2. Discussion of Stories: Participants identify which story they had chosen as their favourite and why, and react to others. They discuss why and how the effect described in the story is relevant and share their own experiences.
3. Group Vote and Debate: The participants are asked to pick only one story as a group. Debate is facilitated to decide between the two top voted stories.
4. Final Vote: If consensus isn’t naturally reached, participants will vote on their final selection out of the two top stories voted by the group
5. Participant Reflection and Conclusion: Participants share how this activity helped them reach a deeper understanding.
6. Closing

When it can be used:

It can be used to explore shared values among a diverse group and gain an understanding of shared experiences.

Who it’s useful for:

The project team / organisation can use this method to evaluate the impact of the intervention, to identify promising practices and to incorporate different perspectives into implementation. Some stories can be used in raising awareness activities (keep in mind that you need to have consent for this).

Length of process:

It is a short-term process, involving activities to collect and edit stories, a 2 hour session and additional time for follow-up.

Main features - advantages:

The use of stories unearths new and deeper perspectives.

Beginning by talking about someone else’s experience is a useful entry point for discussing own experiences. Participants usually speake openly and freely about their own sensitive experiences after they had developed rapport with each other by talking about the common stories.

Main features - disadvantages:

It can be time consuming.

A clear understanding of the tool is necessary for the facilitator, especially in choosing the stories so they spark debate.

Guidelines for implementation:

Initial story selection matters.
All stories should be at the same level so that they could be plausibly chosen by any participant. In practice, this is difficult to do, and some stories can outshine the others. It is useful to review the stories or potentially pre-test them to see that they illuminate different perspectives.

Don’t forget about the editing.
Remove any identifying information. Edit the stories to be of similar length and detail.

Decide if the discussion will be online or in a face to face setting.
During the ClowNexus project, participants joined by online video conference and viewed a virtual whiteboard at the same time. Two facilitators led the session, with the evaluator observing. The first facilitator had overall leadership for managing the discussion, while the second took notes and organized the virtual white board.

Voting and debate is one way to spark discussion, but not the only option.
Holding a two-round runoff vote for the group’s favourite story is planned to spark deeper discussion and help participants understand and adopt new perspectives. This typically works well in cultural contexts where such competitive debate is welcomed, and if the facilitator keeps the session light and fun. Other methods to encourage discussion include a wider set of discussion questions, exploration of the second-favourite stories, and exploration of the last favourite stories.

Tool in practice:

In ClowNexus, the tool concentrated around stories of ‘special moments’ that described the positive effects of clowning for old people, to uncover what are the perceptions of different stakeholders about healthcare clowning and the impact it can generate at the level of the target group.

Attachments / Images:

Origin of the tool:

This is an adaptation of the Most Significant Change method, which is a qualitative method used for group learning and adaptation. Most Significant Change is a narrative-based tool that generates stories from frontline stakeholders on changes in their lives, organizations, and contexts. Most Significant Change is traditionally used to help program managers understand which parts of the interventions had the desired effect, what other results have emerged, and why and how change occurred. The process of collecting, analyzing, and prioritizing stories through this method provides insight into what an organization values. By repeating the activity over time, the method supports continual learning and adaptation, as well as early identification of successes and failures.