So, are you Yoda or Luke Skywalker?

This was a question asked at our recent monthly Prederi team day by Debra Penrice, who is helping us explain better who we are in our case studies.

To which I replied: “consultant management, I am”.  I’m convinced that our role is to help our clients to be the ‘heroes’, not to be taking on that role ourselves.

Reflecting on this later, I thought how this fits with our view of change management. It’s better to think of managers embarking on the Hero’s Journey rather than working through the grief curve (see my earlier blog ‘Take care on the curves‘).

The Hero’s Journey is a deep-seated structure found in narratives, most notably described and identified by Joseph Campbell in his 1949 book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This pattern can be found in stories, myths, drama, religious rituals and psychological development. The structure is built around the adventure of an archetype, known as The Hero, the person who hears the ‘wake up call’ and sets out and, having succeeded in a series of tests and challenges, achieves great deeds on behalf of their group – family, tribe or civilisation.

This concept has been adopted by Hollywood to structure films; and it was a big influence on George Lucas. There has also been some use of it as a metaphor for everyday life and managing at work. It can also be usefully applied to change management.

In addition to the Hero, the archetypal characters include the Mentor – the Hero’s guide (or guiding principles). Examples could be a coach or a teacher, Merlin or, indeed, Yoda. The Mentor, for example, helps the Hero deal with the Threshold Guardians – the forces that stand in the way at important turning points, professional gatekeepers; or they could be your own personal fears and doubts.

So, the question on May the 4th is: are you the Luke Skywalker of the change programme?

Meet the author

Ian Bennett

Ian Bennett

Ian is an expert in change management, efficiency reviews, business cases and costing in the public sector. Ian has over 30 years of experience of working in the public sector, as a civil servant, an auditor and as a consultant, covering central and local government, defence,… Read more »