Livestock story-telling at ILRI—Part 1: Introduction, ‘Descending into the particular’

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St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

The 2019 institutional program meeting of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which was held under a large tent on ILRI’s handsome Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, campus last Sep, tried out something new. Nine staff members were asked to present to the 200 or so ILRI staff assembled how they were helping ILRI to achieve one of its five ‘critical success factors’, which are: (1) get the science right, (2) influence decision-makers, (3) grow capacity, (4) secure sustainable and appropriate funding and (5) ensure ILRI is fit for purpose.

Two things distinguished these presentations from the normal presentations made at ILRI meetings. They were required to be very short (under 5 minutes each) and to tell a very personal story.

Three of these brief presentations were interspersed daily over each of the three days of the meeting. These personal stories were developed and presented by a variety of ILRI staff, from scientists to technicians to post-docs to administrative staff in the institute’s service units. Surprising many in ILRI’s largely scientific community, these personal stories became a major highlight of the planning meeting.

While none of the nine presenters of these personal stories were asked to highlight how livestock had influenced their lives and work, each of them had a major livestock story to tell.

As this story-telling was so affecting for the ILRI community, we thought we would share the stories with our wider community of stakeholders.

We begin below with the introduction to the story-telling and will be publishing each of the nine personal stories over the coming days and weeks.


Introduction to Storytelling at ILRI’s 2019 institutional planning meeting—By Susan MacMillan
Good morning. My name is Susan MacMillan. I’m a communicator in ILRI’s Communications and Knowledge Management Unit.

I have the privilege this morning of introducing nine ILRI staff members who will be telling you something of their personal lives and how their personal stories are helping them to serve one of ILRI’s five critical success factors.

As you know, storytelling makes explicit use of devices, techniques and conventions that allows us to connect with people on an emotional as well as rational level.

But I’d like us to delve a little deeper. . . .


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