I let you in on a little secret: when I talk about storytelling in projects, I get a little help from movies. The Matrix, Star Wars, The Big Lebowski, Juno. What they have in common is that they all follow a universal structure called "The Hero's Journey". Or "monomyth".
Professor Joseph Campbell analyzed hundreds of stories, old and new, and described in his book "The Man With A Thousand Faces" the universal structure they all had in common.
The Hero's Journey.
In it's short form it's about an ordinary person faced with a challenge. He has to go into an unknown territory to retrieve something. During this journey he has to face certain tasks and enemies. He will meet people that will help him, show him the ways of this unknown place. (image: Wikipedia)
What makes this narrative structure so interesting is not that many movies are based upon it. It's more the reason why so many stories are following this flow. There is a certain appeal to it, we all recognize parts of how we experience our own life story.
One essential part of the monomyth is the transformation the hero is going through. It is not just a story about traveling through unknown territory. It's also about a personal change. Letting go of old patterns and having to face a crisis, before being transformed. There are two journeys: the journey to get something, and the personal journey of change.
This movie trailer describes the appeal of The Hero's Journey perfectly. This trailer is from a documentary about Joseph Campbell. My friend Steve pointed me to this video. Steve and I are working on something awesome around storytelling in projects.
Campbell describes 12 stages that make up The Hero's Journey. You can read more about them here.
This is why I wrote about the crisis every project has in the middle. It's the Abyss in a Hero's Journey.
The entire idea of using "adventure travel" as a metaphor for projects is about a transformative journey into foreign land. Using tents. Maps. And stuff.
Webinar About Storytelling In Projects
I recently gave an introduction to storytelling in projecs. Below is a recording of that webinar. It doesn't include The Hero's Journey though.
Bas de Baar is a writer who draws about people in transition. He loves to make visual maps and travel guides for the collaborators of our brave new world.