An effective journey of change doesn’t just bring about an outer world change in actions but also an inner world change in attitudes.

Psychologist Professor Brian Little’s research explores how the projects we engage in effect our personality traits.

All individuals are essentially scientists erecting and testing their hypotheses about the world and revising them in the light of their experience.

Professor Brian Little

In other words, testing things through our actions helps to shape our future attitudes and further actions. Taking people on an outer world journey of change can help them decide to fund, invest in, buy from, collaborate with, or join your company today. But taking them on an inner world journey of change can help shift their attitudes so that they show increased loyalty to your business in the future.

The 9 steps in our Lean Story Canvas provide a great framework to capture both the inner and outer journey you want your target audience to go on. The ‘Hero’s Journey’ is a pattern perfectly evolved to bring an audience on both an inner and an outer journey of change.

This can be seen in the way even seemingly straightforward Hollywood movies use this pattern to tell the story of an outer and inner journey at the same time:

Die Hard – John McCalne’s outer journey is defeating the terrorists who have overrun Nakatomi Plaza. His inner journey moves from a combative relationship with his wife Holly, to reconciliation with her – in fact, his inner journey gives him the clarity to be successful in his outer journey.

E.T. – Elliott’s outer journey is one that sees him befriend an alien and help it return home. His inner journey is from being a child who can’t find his way in a heartbroken, divorce-crippled family, to discovering his place in a tighter knit group.

Jurassic Park – Dr. Alan Grant’s outer journey is escaping Isla Nubar which has been overrun with escaped dinosaurs. His inner journey sees him overcome an apparent dislike of children (possibly due to his bad relationship with his own father) that is a barrier to a potential deeper relationship with his research partner Dr, Ellie Sattler.

There are 7 common journeys of change you can create with the 9 steps in the Story Canvas. You can use these to help you understand the inner journey as well as the outer journey you’re bringing people on – building loyalty while adding extra familiarity, and therefore perceived truth, to your story.

7 Common Journeys of Change

Review your Story Canvas to try to understand the type of journey of change you are bringing your audience on. It is can be one of the 7 common journeys listed below or a blend of two or more of them.

Does understanding the type of journey of change you are bringing them on help you strengthen any of the elements of your Story Canvas? Does it mean that you need to emphasise any parts of your story more when you tell it?

  1. Overcoming the Monster

    Outer journey: The hero sets out to defeat an antagonistic force or problem which threatens them or their way of life.

    Inner journey: The hero discovers an attitude or flaw in themselves that they need to change to be successful in their journey.

    Typically used when: The sector is dominated by a single flawed solution or a systemic problem that the hero themselves is playing a role in.

  2. Rags to Riches

    Outer journey: The hero sets out to acquire tangible things like profits.

    Inner journey: The hero discovers less tangible ways that they can be enriched.

    Typically used when: Tangible ‘wants’ and intangible ‘needs’ seem to be in conflict but can be balanced – like profit and purpose.

  3. The Quest

    Outer journey: The hero sets out to get to a goal, facing obstacles along the way.

    Inner journey: The hero discovers that how they get there is maybe as important as the goal, or that there’s a bigger purpose than reaching the goal itself.

    Typically used when: A goal is a good motivation to collaborate or striving for it will result in other positive results.

  4. Voyage & Return

    Outer journey: The hero is immersed in a world that works in a different way and returns with experience that they can apply to their Ordinary World.

    Inner journey: The hero relinquishes some of their own biases and discovers new opportunities from a fresh perspective.

    Typically used when: A radical change in thinking or direction is needed or where learnings from a different sector could help solve problems.

  5. Rebirth

    Outer journey: The hero is confronted their past or present behaviour and benefits from breaking that pattern.

    Inner journey: The hero becomes aware of the self-destructive nature of their values and chooses to adopt different values moving forwards.

    Typically used when: Typically used where people or organisations are part of the problem could benefit from being part of the solution.

  6. Tragedy

    Outer journey: A hero ‘doubles down’ on flawed thinking or mistakes, ultimately leading to their undoing.

    Inner journey: Others learn a lesson and review their own thinking and behaviours.

    Typically used when: Where people or organisations wish to avoid the high-profile mistakes of others.

  7. Comedy

    Outer journey: The way things work becomes more and more confusing (and infuriating) for the hero, but is resolved by a single clarifying solution.

    Inner journey: The hero moves from tolerating the chaos to embracing the simple solution.

    Typically used when: Recognising the ridiculousness of a current situation can be a rallying point for people and organisations who want to change it.