We continuous improvement practitioners have much to learn from the movie business. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the “storytelling formula” may be one of the most important things we lean thinkers can learn.
Most good movies/books (think Lord of the Rings or Star Wars) follow a specific formula.
There’s a hero (i.e. Frodo/Luke). The hero has a problem. The hero meets a guide (i.e. Gandalf/Yoda). The guide lays out a plan. The guide calls the hero to action. Finally, after much struggle, the hero succeeds and realizes their full potential.
Even if movies like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars aren’t your thing…go ahead and apply this same formula to your favorite movie. In most cases, a similar story script applies.
Now, as it relates to continuous improvement, the “secret” lies in the hero/guide relationship. You see, far too many times we lean thinkers ride in on our white horses and attempt to be the hero since we have lots of CI knowledge and experience. This is totally backwards.
We lean thinkers are the guides…not the heroes. Put another way, we’re Gandalf and Yoda and the people we’re helping are Frodo and Luke. And when we do our job right we help these heroes identify problems, come up with a plan, take action, and realize success.
And while this may seem obvious, I think, if we’re being honest, many of us are guilty of trying to be the heroes with all the answers. We want to be acknowledged and recognized for our wisdom and skill. Make no mistake…the desire and need for “status” is real.
But, for true and lasting continuous improvement success we must rise above the need for hero status and realize our main purpose is to guide, mentor, and serve.