Finding Joe: Mythical Lessons That Can Impact Strategic Planning

Reflecting the other day, I remembered a quote from one of my favorite TV shows “The West Wing”. When talking of terrorists, the character Josh Lyman gives the following advice to a group of students: “You want to get these people? I mean, you really want to reach in and kill them where they live? Keep accepting more than one idea. It makes them absolutely crazy.”

We live in a society that thrives and gains excitement from the concept that we accept more than one idea. Just take 20 minutes to scan the online news and blogs, and see discourse between the factions on a variety of angles, and we are seeing a country redefine the belief of the majority. So, what’s next, well for me, it was a tweet from a colleague of mine, Andrew Horn. Read about Andrew, he’s fantastic. At any rate, I found myself driven from his tweet to the movie “Finding Joe”. It was perfect timing for me—I immediately began exploring new ideas and insights from this movie.

The one hour and twenty minute documentary highlights concepts discovered by Joseph Campbell, who took the time to research the common themes of mythical stories. Through a variety of examples (from the Wizard of Oz, various Greek myths, Star Wars, and even the Matrix), the creator Patrick Takaya Solomon explains how all of us is looking for our “Hero’s Journey”.

I was intrigued as I reflected on my own personal “hero’s journey” and thought  that you take the time to watch it; definitely worth it.

“We Must Be Willing to get Rid of the Life We’ve Planned

so As to Have the Life That Is Waiting For Us”—Joseph Campbell

I actually began reflecting, while letting the movie take me through a journey of discovering about concepts I believe have guided my own life, and wondered:

How can organization development benefit from the concepts discovered by Mr. Campbell?

The Journey

The movie talks about how part of the “hero’s journey” is to follow the expected path and then once you start struggling with your inner conflicts, you will arrive at a place of discovery. When working with organizations doing strategy development, we intentionally use a process that allows an organization’s stakeholders to examine “their current state” and create a common understanding of the conflicting desires of the group. Only when we have created that consensus can we begin to talk of strategy.

The Vision 

According to the movie, we seek a path that is our own, and helps us explore the possibilities. As with our strategic planning, we challenge the group to “go beyond what we perceive to be the limits of our possibility”.

Discover your Story

One of the storytellers says when you plant the mystical journey seed, it starts to sprout into circumstances, events, and relationships for the unfolding of the story—the story is definitely richer.” Reflecting, I wondered if we might consider how the organization gains such an experience in strategic planning. Our panel approach does give us the opportunity to bring in this wisdom, but we also design an experience in strategic planning that allows our participants to create the story and possibility of the organization together—based on the wisdom that each participant brings.  Once the group is brought together as a whole and the “seeds” of a collaborative strategy has been planted, the new story of the organization unfolds.

“The little tiger gagged on the sheep, as we all do with the truth.”

I’ve seen it—when facilitating—a participant has their own idea of what the organization has to offer—what the organization should be doing. We get to 3:00 on the first day of a strategy summit, and that same participant has become part of the organization’s journey of discovery. All of a sudden, their focus is with the majority of the group, to build a plan that will take them in the right direction, an inspired direction that incorporates the lessons learned by going through the process.

The Organization is the Hero 

This concept really popped for me.  We help our organizations and their stakeholders come together to create their own “Hero’s Journey” — a journey of discovery, learning, planning, and incorporating lessons to increase future success.

If you are doing any type of coaching, organization development, advocacy, or strategy development then this movie is a definite help to exploring concepts that will help you become a better facilitator of the process. And frankly, even if you aren’t doing this type of work, the personal insights will definitely make watching the movie well worth it

Check out the movie, and give me your thoughts

  • How does the movie relate to you and your practice?
  • What did you gleam that will help you next week in your job, or even personally?

And if you want to know more about our strategic planning services, contact me for an initial consultation.

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