Woody from Toy Story on a bookshelf

Photo credit: Woody on is new space on the DVD shelf by semihundido, a Creative Commons image on Flickr.

We started a new innovation series in this new year. It’s 18 Days to Storytelling for Innovation, a program on the Avanoo platform. (Thanks to Anna Higgins, our Director of Innovation, for leading us.) We watch a short video each day and reflect on it individually and as a group. I’m going to chronicle my individual reflections here.

Day Two—Toy Story

Our first challenge as we journey through the storytelling vignettes is to understand narrative structure, so we can apply it to our own innovation narratives.

Our reflection exercise for today asked us three questions about Toy Story 3:

  1. Who is the hero or protagonist? Woody
  2. What is the hero’s motivation? I’m torn on this. Woody is going through the bittersweet transition parents do as their children grow and move on. There’s the balance of pride and happiness with the sadness and initial loneliness of the transition. But I think his motivation is less about his changing relationship with Andy (a hope to hold on to things as they were in the past) and more about his love, care, and responsibility for the other toys in Andy’s toy chest after they are mistakenly put in the trash.
  3. What is the central conflict? In a classic sense, the central conflict is man against man—toy against toy, in this case. Andy’s optimism about the role of toys in a child’s life is challenged by Lotso, a toy bear who believes all toys are destined to be mistreated and discarded. This conflict is set in the larger narrative of the toys making their way back to Andy’s house.