In case you don’t know the hero’s journey, I will start this forum with a quote from Joseph Campbell himself from the introduction of The hero with a thousand faces where he summarizes the monomyth as follows: “The hero begins his adventure from the world of every day to a region of supernatural wonders, confronts fabulous forces and wins a decisive victory; the hero returns from his mysterious adventure with the strength to bestow boons on his brothers.”
This book has inspired many artists, filmmakers, musicians, producers, and poets who have developed films like a space odyssey either Star Wars. To develop his model of the hero, Campbell also used the work of authors from the beginning of the 20th century, such as Sigmund Freud and the Oedipus complex, or Carl Gustav Jung and the archetypal figures of him and the collective unconscious. Van Gennep contributed from his work the rites of passage and the concept of triple stratification that Campbell translated as Separation, Initiation and Return. Finally mention the influence of James Joyce and his book Uliseswhich celebrates its centenary, in the concept of monomyth and in the structure of the archetypal motif.
I think it would be no less a trip for the team of any SME, which would be our hero today. The circular rhythm of the hero’s journey mimics the traditional rhythm of the world: life and death, order and chaos, consciousness and unconsciousness. For me, without a doubt, this is also the traditional rhythm of companies. In analogy with the 12 stages of the hero’s journey, the annual journey of the SME company would be:
one. Ordinary world. This is where the company is in its day-to-day life, oblivious to the adventures that are to come. It is a company like any other in a complicated situation, in general, currently, and with a life of the day-to-day routine.
2. Call to adventure. The company receives a call to action for something that disrupts the comfort of the ordinary world and presents a challenge or a mission that needs to be undertaken, it may be from a direct threat, how Covid has been for everyone, or it may simply arise from a conversation regarding the competition, customers, or any circumstantial element. In fact, I see that there is an annual call to action, in the drafting of the management plan, since it is this plan that must provide changes and new lines to face threats and take advantage of opportunities, based on the strengths of the team and company. and improving the weaknesses that may have suffered throughout the year.
3. Rejection of the call. Even though action may be felt to be necessary, or even eager to accept the new mission, second thoughts and even deep doubts will always appear as to whether or not the company is up to the challenge. The tendency is to continue acting in the same way despite feeling the danger, because it is more comfortable than taking a new path.
Four. Meeting with the mentor. At this crucial inflection point, it is where the company desperately needs guidance, it must find a figure that gives it something it needs. These are the leaders of the company who do not necessarily have to coincide with management or the management team, although without a doubt if they coincide with them, the reinforcement that the company needs at this point will have greater authority to move the entire team towards the adventure.
5. Crossing the threshold. Once this has happened, the team continues its journey, although with a definition of more challenging lines and with a greater motivation and belief to meet the defined challenge thanks to the reinforcement of the leaders.
6. Trials, allies and enemies. During the development of the year, challenges will arise that will test the leaders, the team and the company. The business must overcome the challenges on the objective and the assumed plan every month. Along this path, it is necessary to find out among all who can be trusted, supported or create alliances, and who cannot, and therefore, move away or break supply and/or cooperation contracts. Who are your customers and who is your competition?
7. Approach to the deepest cave. The deepest cave can represent many things in the company: internal conflicts, financial problems, failures in developments and/or in the market’s reaction to our challenges and/or new products or proposals. It is these moments that make you doubt the continuity of the adventure and in which you must reflect on the trip and find the courage to continue.
8. The big test. The big test in the case of the company is often nothing but small big tests resulting from the cases mentioned in the previous point, although sometimes they can be decisive moments, when we have decided to launch a new product or service, start with a new provider, or change the ERP of the company.
9. Reward. The reward is sometimes great results, although many times simply having innovated, overcoming the obstacles that have arisen and continuing in the gap, is already the greatest reward, and it is what motivates us to continue in business together.
10. The way back. In the analogy of the hero’s journey with the company, the way back would represent the return to the evaluation of what was achieved during the year and, in some way, having adopted the challenges of the previous stage as part of our business and culture.
eleven. Resurrection. The resurrection represents having managed to overcome another year and with it the salaries that the families of the teams and the company will maintain with their products and/or services. The company somehow experiences an annual resurrection or death.
12. I return with the elixir. This is the final stage of the year and the elixir would be a new perspective for next year and new individual and joint challenges for the company’s team results.
Let’s continue to be a team, being heroes in the annual adventure, surpassing ourselves each year and resisting the challenges along the way.