- A quest provides definition. In a chaotic and fast-paced world, defining and differentiating your organization can be a real challenge. A quest helps to encapsulate both what your organization does and, more importantly, why it does it.
- Quests fuel engagement. Motivating sustained action is difficult, especially when there isn’t a large-scale vision for your audience to buy into. Whether it’s internally or externally, having an overt quest can help frame discussions, explain setbacks, and provide a shared lens through which to experience the world.
- Quests are an avenue of persuasion. If you’ve ever tried to change someone’s mind (whether a two-year-old or a 62-year-old), you’ve probably run into a reflexive human reaction: when faced with opposition, people cling all the more stubbornly to their beliefs. So start large: elucidating a quest that others can agree with provides common ground and a starting point for discussion, making it easier to build bridges, negotiate, or persuade.
- Quests drive intentional change. Organizations are always changing and evolving, but often they do so in a reactive manner. Having a quest helps to guide that change based upon what you are trying to achieve, providing a “North Star” to help navigate the thousands of daily decisions that add up to the sum of the organization.
- Quests can improve organizational mentality. Many groups look at themselves as individuals doing individual jobs that add up to the whole of the organization. Call it an assembly line mentality. If everyone does their allotted tasks, the final “product” will continue to be churned out.A quest-oriented mentality would use the metaphor of the body. Departments are individual organs fulfilling different tasks that all contribute to the health of the organism. So far, pretty similar. Here’s the difference: in this mindset, the organization’s quest is the blood. Its presence and quality affects how all of the organs function. And if some parts of the body are functioning without it … well, let’s just say you’re in trouble.
With this perspective, a group’s quest is not the province of PR, marketing, sales, or advertising folks. Everyone’s job and mission is to maintain, improve, and otherwise contribute to the success of the quest, since that story is the symbolic “life’s blood” of the organization.
The stonecutter’s parable
A quest doesn’t have to be world-shaking or revolutionary to affect employee morale. For a quick example, let’s look at the stonecutter’s parable.
A man walks up to a stonecutter and asks what he’s doing. The stonecutter replies, “I’m busting up these damn rocks. What does it look like I’m doing?”
The man goes over to another stonecutter and asks him the same question. The second stonecutter looks up, smiles, and says, “I’m helping to build a beautiful cathedral.”
This second man’s mentality likely translated into greater productivity in the stonecutting arena. And where creativity, dedication, intelligence, and knowledge are integral parts of an organization’s success, the yield would be exponentially greater.
So take a moment and ask yourself: Can everyone in your organization clearly and accurately identify the group’s quest? (This includes your administrative staff, your IT people, and your accounting folks.)