Running an intranet workshop: sharing the agenda (or “Hero’s Journey”)

by Chris McGrath | Nov 19, 2019

Our intranet workshops usually last from one to three days. Regardless of the length, we like to set everyone’s expectations by sharing an agenda. Although we share it in advance via email, discussing it again at the start of a meeting reminds everyone of the plan and provides an opportunity to make any necessary adjustments.

Lately I’ve been using the “Hero’s Journey Agenda” to set the stage for my Content Migration workshops. (Read about it in detail on Gamestorming). The Hero’s Journey captivates the audience and prepares them for what lies ahead.

Hero’s Journey for Intranet Content Migrators

  1. Draw a big circle on a whiteboard. Write “Ordinary Life” at the top, and a little figure that represents a person in your group.

  2. Explain that every epic tale involves a hero that gets the call to leave his or her ordinary life. Write “The call” around 2 o’clock on your circle.

  3. Explain that as the hero embarks on his or her journey, they meet friends to help them along the way. Draw a little figure of “helpers” — perhaps with capes or wizards’ hats — and explain who is going to help your group on this journey.

  4. Draw a big line through your circle and divide it into “Known” and “Unknown”. Explain that we’re crossing into the Unknown, and we’re going to be facing Problems and Perils. Write “Problems & Perils” at 4 or 5 o’clock, and draw some dark clouds and monsters.

  5. At 6 o’clock, draw The Pit. Explain that this is the low point, when everyone is going to be frustrated. And that this might be a good time to break for lunch.

  6. In epic tales, the Hero emerges from the Pit with hope: he or she has acquired “Special Powers”, which you’ll write at 7 or 8 o’clock with lightning bolts, light bulbs and exclamation marks. Explain that the group is going to acquire special abilities, such as the ability to quickly add, edit and manipulate content, files and photos.

  7. Finally, write “The Return” around 10 o’clock. This is where the hero crosses back into the Known world, bringing back Gifts to his or her Ordinary Life. Draw little boxed gifts, and explain that everyone will be returning home as Content Heros. They’ll bring back the gift of Content Migration Know-How, which will benefit others on their team.

I used this agenda with a credit union a few weeks ago. The intranet manager loved it when I drew her with a cape, my colleague loved it when I drew her with a magic wand, and the content migrators loved thinking of themselves as heros. When we reviewed our takeaways at the end of the day, many people commented that the Hero’s Journey was a highlight!

The great thing about the Hero’s Journey agenda is that it prepares your group to face a period of frustration during the workshop. This is usually the part where they are learning something new and difficult, or are unravelling a complex problem. But the agenda also assures them that they will break through, learn something new, and leave the workshop with new skills. Presenting the agenda in this way can infuse excitement into what otherwise could appear to be a mundane topic, like content migration.

Chris McGrath

Chris McGrath

Founder, Consultant

Chris McGrath has led mission-critical website and intranet projects for 25 years. He co-founded ThoughtFarmer, an intranet platform used by hundreds of organizations worldwide. Now, through Tangowork, Chris's team provides expert consulting on high-performance websites, intranets and chatbots.

Tangowork’s consultants use research, design and technology to help your organization create better digital experiences. We specialize in intranets, AI assistants and high-performance websites.