I reviewed Nick Owen's previous book The Magic of Metaphor in Organisations & People vol. 10.3, and concluded that it was a great introduction to the art of storytelling and also a great resource of stories. This companion work is subtitled Stories for Leaders, Influencers and Motivators which suggests a departure in focus from the original which was directed towards Teachers, Trainers and Thinkers. This is not the only change in focus.
The book devotes a lot of space and effort in intertwining the stories to two models ” Spiral Dynamics and Ken Wilber's ” A Theory of Everything”. This makes for an interesting classification, and certainly helps the story line of the book as a whole ” which is the same Apprentice Magician on a learning journey. But the analysis can also detract from the stories themselves for someone who is not interested or sceptical about these theories. Is this a book on Spiral Dynamics and Wilber's theory of everything, or about the stories themselves and storytelling, or about leadership, influencing and motivating? I felt it sometimes lost its way.
That said, it can be read at a number of levels, as Nick himself points out in the introduction. It is to his credit that he did not just write another collection, but has chosen to re-focus and re-direct his theme to influencing, motivation and leadership. For those who are interested in the stories and storytelling alone, then the explanatory information is in his previous book, Magic of Metaphor, and there is a great collection of 60 diverse and interesting stories to then add to the collection. My own disappointment was that there were only 60 stories as opposed to the 77 in the first book, and that we could have had more stories and less discussion. But that is only taking one level of the book.
The next level is for those wishing to investigate the themes of influencing, motivation and leadership. For this the journey of the Apprentice and his magic carpet guide explores learning around the key attributes of leaders and some of the contrasting roles they perform: The Integral Leader; The Pragmatic Leader; The Present and Aware Leader; The Leader who has Integrity; The Leader who takes Personal Responsibility; The Contributing Leader; and The Leader as Change Agent. The stories illustrate the issues facing leaders in different situations, and there is a very useful index of story by theme which will guide you to the metaphor you wish too explore.
Finally, there is the story of Spiral Dynamics and the work of Ken Wilber that runs throughout the book. This is a story about values and change, human nature and meaning making, using the work of psychologist Clare Graves on Levels of Existence and the writings of Don Beck and Chris Cowan. It is a useful introduction to these theories and their application, and the Appendices give good summaries of the ideas.
As I mentioned earlier, I found the three parallel structures a little confusing at times, and, personally, I would have welcomed more stories and less discussion. But that is just a personal bias, overall this is a book which adds to the knowledge bank in each of the three areas on which it is focused.