The corporate journey of the IM hero
The hero's journey is a concept established by Joseph Campbell described in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It is a basis, considered to be a classic in narratology, intended to build the typical initiatory journey of the hero that can be found in many stories around the world, and, in particular, in literature and the film industry.
One of the most famous storytellers regarding heroes is George Lucas, who has admitted he was inspired by Campbell when writing the Star Wars films.
It is fun and even interesting to apply this storytelling to the world of business, into a providential character in particular; the Interim Manager.
The hero’s journey traditionally consists of twelve stages:
- The Ordinary world
Adapted to the IMs, this stage becomes their situation before their assignment begins or even before they start to develop into an independent high profile. The everyday life where they could learn crucial details about themselves, their true nature, capabilities and outlook on life. In this stage of the “IM’s journey”, they could still be employed or just waiting for a new assignment.
- Call to adventure
Whatever the call is, and however it manifests itself, it ultimately disrupts the comfort of the IM’s Ordinary World and presents a challenge or a quest that must be undertaken. At ADM, this is the moment we contact one of our IM’s because we know he/she fits the assignment we have been approached for.
- Refusal of the call
Fortunately, this does not happen often, and if it does, it is most of the time because the IM we have in mind is already working on an assignment. But then, we know it already. When IMs start their career in Interim Management and get in touch with us, we coach them to become more aware of their capabilities.
- Meeting the mentor
This is an important moment where the IMs might need some extra guidance and therefore meet a member of our team. Like in a hero’s journey in literature, the mentor provides the heroes with advice which serves to dispel their doubts and fears and gives them the strength and courage to begin their quest. We confirm our trust in their abilities to do the job well.
- Crossing the Threshold
The IM is now ready to act upon his/her call for the assignment. This action signifies the IM’s commitment to his/her journey and whatever it may have in store for him/her.
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
The IMs will be confronted with a series of challenges that test them in a variety of ways. Obstacles are thrown across their path; some people will oppose their plans or even presence, and the IMs must overcome each challenge they are presented with on the journey towards their ultimate goal.
7. Approach To The Inmost Cave
The inmost cave may represent many things in the IM’s story, such as an actual location in which lies a danger, or, an inner conflict which up until now the IM has not had to face.
This might be a deep inner crisis that the IM must face. The IMs must draw upon all of their skills and experiences gathered upon the path to the inmost cave in order to overcome their most difficult challenge.
After overcoming the biggest challenges, the IM is ultimately transformed into a new state, emerging from battle as a stronger person and often with a prize.
The Reward may come in many forms: a greater knowledge, experience or insight, and most of the time a call for a new assignment.
10. The Road Back
It may be that after a seemingly completed assignment, an unexpected event will occur on the way back. Called to the rescue, the IM will show all his/her flexibility and insight to attend to this turn of events.
It is at this point that the final battle begins. If the IM manages to achieve this last phase of the mission, he/she will have succeeded and will emerge even stronger, like the hero who is reborn after winning the final fight.
12. Return With The Elixir
This is the final stage of the IMs’ journey in which they return home to their Ordinary World as a changed person. They will have grown as a person and learned many things. Their return may bring fresh hope to those they left behind, a direct solution to their problems or perhaps a new perspective for everyone to consider.
The final reward that they obtain represents three things: change, success and proof of their journey.