Thoughts on the movie Christopher Robin from our founder Eva Niewiadomski, exploring the essentially-Catalyst-Ranch ideas fueling our protagonist’s change for the better in Winnie the Pooh–Catalyst for Creative Thinking.
I went to see “Christopher Robin,” the new Disney movie, a few weeks ago because I had a free evening and felt like I needed a little of Pooh’s wisdom and philosophy in my life. The film was very sweet, you’ll be happy to know. Ewan McGregor was captivating as always, and the warm color palette was gentle and comforting. The theater lights grew brighter, and I found myself with a smile on my face. Rising to my feet, I recognized this smile came from something more than enjoying this unsurprisingly delightful Disney story. What about it was giving me this unexpected inspiration, this added feeling of familiar satisfaction? And walking out of the theater into the breezy afternoon, I had an astonishing realization: the plot of the movie revolves around applying some of the key principles for creative problem solving that we provide to our clients every single day here at Catalyst Ranch.
If you haven’t yet seen the movie, then this is your Spoiler Alert Warning! Come back and read after you’ve watched this charming film–fully-grown adults, don’t be shy! You don’t need a child in tow to see the film.
…the movie revolves around applying some of the key principles for creative problem solving that we provide to our clients every single day here at Catalyst Ranch.
The movie starts with the adult Christopher Robin working endless hours as an efficiency expert at a struggling luggage company in London. He has become a workaholic and sacrifices time with his wife (Evelyn) and daughter (Madeleine) in order to keep his job. He stays at the office irrespective of whatever other commitments and promises he has made. At the moment when Winnie the Pooh reenters his life, he has just promised Evelyn and Madeleine that they will finally spend the weekend at their countryside cottage in Sussex. Only his boss calls him into his office and tells him that he needs to cut spending by 20% and must present his plan of which employees to lay off by Monday morning. So, what do you think happens to that promised weekend in Sussex for the three of them? Does Christopher go with Evelyn and Madeleine? Of course not! In typical fashion, especially in post-war Europe, it was assumed that the only place you could work hard and be effective was in the office.
But being as Pooh is involved, of course things don’t go as planned in Christopher’s life. Before he knows it, he’s back in Hundred Acre Wood with his friends Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger, fighting off Heffalumps and fashioning a Heffalump trap.
…the exact catalyst that Christopher needs to view his work problem from a difference perspective…
In his gentle, bumbling, innocent way, Pooh reminds Christopher of his childhood, which he had buried so deeply that he had actually forgotten all about Pooh. Those memories combined with the unplanned trip back to Hundred Acre Wood provide the exact catalyst that Christopher needs to view his work problem from a difference perspective and come up with a unique solution.
…there’s nothing like a change of environment and tapping into childhood memories to shift your perspective, redefine the problem and come up with ideas that offer better solutions.
Instead of reducing headcount, he brings forth the proposal that the company create a less expensive brand of luggage targeted to middle class holiday goers, a new market. And of course give their employees time off to take holidays! Up to that point in time the company was focused solely on the luxury travel market, which shrank drastically after the war.
What Pooh shows Christopher is that there’s nothing like a change of environment and tapping into childhood memories to shift your perspective, redefine the problem and come up with ideas that offer better solutions. Certainly cost reduction was one viable course of action that could be taken here, but it was short-sighted as it provided no path for future growth, just further staff reductions and a diminished company; whereas his final recommendation created the potential for explosive growth and opportunity.
And for those of us who don’t have a Pooh to take us to Hundred Acre Wood, there is Catalyst Ranch, where, as Pooh puts it so succinctly:
“There’s always time for a smackeral of wonder.”