Monsters, Myths, Mayhem and Magic exists in all organisations

Monsters and Myths Workshop instructions


Anyone who has ever tried to change ANYTHING will be aware that they are likely to encounter barriers and obstacles in the form of biases, behaviours, beliefs, habits, people, processes, mind-sets, misconceptions, misunderstandings and many more such “Monsters & Myths” that will frustrate their efforts.

“One of the biggest problems in organisations is that the Monsters & Myths are routinely overlooked or ignored, which allows them to thrive and perpetuate.”

The first step to overcome them is to acknowledge their existence.

The purpose of the Monsters and Myths sessions is to help organisations and individuals identify the barriers / obstacles / inhibitors to change and transformation in their own organisation, in order for them to work out ways of overcoming them and increase their chances of success.

They are designed to be highly interactive and (hopefully) fun, with both individual and group activities designed to achieve a shared understanding of the challenges and devise a collaborative approach to tactics and strategies to overcome them.


Monsters & Myths survive and thrive in the shadows of organisations because nobody talks about them, or at least they don’t talk about them enough.

The simple act of providing people a “safe space” to expose and share their pain points in a fun and engaging way, is a great team building exercise and is even more enlightening when carried out across inter-connected departments (or ultimately across the entire organisation) where you might find that some of your own team / department’s behaviours are actually Monsters to some of those around you ……… which isn’t a bad thing, at least you can take steps to kill that Monster or Myth quickly!

Workshop sessions should be tailored according to environment (virtual or physical), number of participants (with or without breakout groups) and available time.

The artefacts created during the physical sessions (or as pre-work for virtual sessions) consist of a series of “cards” designed to increase engagement and discussion and they provide a useful summary to continue the engagement long after the sessions are over.


Each participant is encouraged to complete 3 cards - although I did have one participant that managed to create 8 during the workshop and went on to add a whole lot more after the workshop ended so please create as many as you can think of!!

Instructions to complete Monsters and Myths card

  1. NAME:- Think of a catchy name for your Monster or Myth - be as creative as you like - it's YOUR Monster or Myth!
  2. IMAGE:- Draw your Monster or Myth - don't worry if you're not good at drawing (I'm rubbish) then describe it in words instead
  3. DESCRIPTION:- Now describe what it is, where and when it appears, what impact it has and how you can combat it
  4. FREQUENCY*:- How often do you encounter this Monster or Myth in terms of a % of the times you try to get things done?
  5. DETECTION*:- How difficult is it to see this in an organisation? (low number = easy to see / high = difficult)
  6. IMPACT*:- What impact does it have when you are trying to get things done / change things? (low number = small impact / high = biiiiiig impact)
  7. EFFORT*:- How difficult is it REALLY to overcome this barrier or obstacle? (low number = easy / high = really hard!)


The values you provide for fields 4 - 7 are subjective - they are from YOUR perspective and YOU might experience more pain from some barriers and obstacles than other people in your organisation do! A more structured approach to quantifying IMPACT and EFFORT can be taken in more in depth (stage 2) sessions if desired - but for now, these numbers are merely to generate discussion and understanding of issues.


For virtual sessions, a PPT deck with card templates and instructions is circulated prior to the workshop. The electronic version enables people to get very creative with the images, like the example given above - don't worry if you can't draw like that - I can't either 😂


After the moderator calls time on the individual activity, each person then shares their “top” Monster or Myth with the rest of the group, explaining why this is a barrier and what impact it has on their ability to do their job / achieve their goals. If they have found a way to overcome this, they should share this too.

The rest of the group are encouraged to share their points of view (have they encountered the same?) including what they have done when facing similar problems, or suggest what could be done / might be required in order to conquer the particular Monster or Myth.

Depending on time available, this process is repeated until all Monsters & Myths have been discussed, at which point the team is encouraged to collectively agree on the relative “Impact” and “Effort” scores across each card. (Suggested approach is for each card to be laid down on the table and the group to "rank" it higher or lower than cards already laid down, in terms of either IMPACT or EFFORT depending on the session objectives.

For large multi-group workshops, one person from each group is nominated to share their group’s biggest Monster or Myth with all participants when the groups are re-convened.

If the workshop is held as a team building exercise as part of an “away-day”, the Monsters & Myths can be plotted on a “Map”, with participants encouraged to add post-it note comments throughout the remainder of the event.


If you would like a PDF copy of the Monsters and Myths shared by everyone in this workshop, please:-

  1. Use your phone to take a photo of each card you have created
  2. Attach the photos to an email and send them to me at with "Monsters and Myths Workshop" in the title (or press the button below to automatically fire up your email client)

I will collate all of the submissions and send you a PDF within a couple of weeks (depending on how many there are).


The Monsters & Myths can be plotted on a 10x10 matrix to provide a starting point to create a strategy to overcome the barriers and obstacles getting in the way of getting things done - I use this version below in my paid client workshops but you can create your own version too.

Map of the biggest barriers to change in your organisation

Map the biggest barriers to change in your organisation



The Stage 1 Workshop is a valuable exercise in its own right and groups or individuals could be tasked with conquering the Monsters & Myths that are identified during the exercise, based on this stage alone.

This workshop is very effective when run with "Customer Advisory Boards" or customer focus groups to find out the barriers and obstacles that are / might be preventing potential customers from engaging with you.

When run internally, creating the cards is not only useful in identifying current issues, but can also be used for training, education and on-boarding purposes to help other employees anticipate and plan for potential problems in the future.

But, resource constraints are a fact of life and in order to overcome some of the more difficult Monsters & Myths (high IMPACT & EFFORT scores) we need to be able to quantify the cost / benefit in order to prioritise a plan of action.

This requires a deeper dive into the topics through further stages which can be set as  follow up actions at individual or group level, with further sessions to drive the strategy forward and consists of :-

  • Stage 2 - Quantification
    • MAYHEM cards are created to quantify the impact in real (usually monetary) terms
    • MAGIC cards are created for proposed solutions / approaches and associated effort (usually in time and money terms)
  • Stage 3 - Strategy
    • The relationships between the Monsters and Myths, Mayhem and Magic are visualised using Miro (or physically using string)
    • Many-to-many relationships help to identify the "hot spots" of Magic where a specific course of action has the potential to address a number of barriers and obstacles at the same time.
  • Stage 4 - Execution
    • The final card in the pack is the MUSTER card that summarises the team to assemble to overcome identified barriers and obstacles

Now that you know the process, the only question I have for you is:-