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Why a quest is the right metaphor for change

When talking about change at work, we often speak about the journey - getting from A to B. It makes the concept appear as a linear process with only the end destination in mind.

In reality, implementing change in organizations is not a cookie-cutter linear process. Therefore, it is more helpful to think of the change process as a quest.

A journey has a goal, a quest has a purpose

The metaphor of a journey emphasizes the destination over the exploration. The end destination is a known place in a journey. A journey can also be passive in nature, where an individual embarks on a trip in which problems that are out of their control happen TO them. A quest, on the other hand, is not only to pursue a goal, but to take on a mission. On a quest, an individual is seeking something greater that they do not know yet; we instinctively know that a quest involves obstacles and will require of us that we rise to the occasion and overcome the obstacles. 

Quests allow you to grow

A quest changes you. You arrive at a new destination, but more importantly, you arrive having grown and changed. New experiences, interactions and obstacles lead to new perspectives. Often times, the results you seek by going on the quest are achieved by undergoing the process of the quest itself. After a quest is complete you are in a new state of mind.

You take responsibility on a quest

By actively accepting to take on a quest, you are taking responsibility for what lies ahead. There is an underlying assumption that there will be challenges ahead, and you are agreeing to take those on.  While there is perhaps an established leader of the change process, all members of the change are responsible for the accomplishments and goals reached.

Quests involve more than yourself

A quest is never successful without help from others along the way. Including others on a quest empowers and unite them, and will increase the odds of the quest being successful. This means an emphasis on the work skills essential in organizations: communication, compromise, teamwork and understanding. All of which are crucial in accomplishing a quest.  

Change projects are a quest

When we embark on change, it is easy to put all focus on the end result. Getting from A to B. But being on a quest with a purpose is a much more empowering experience than merely being on a journey. It gives you the juice to overcome the obstacles you may face and to invite others to join your quest. The idea of a quest also leaves room for the fact that the end destination cannot be know - you need to go on the quest to even discover what the end point looks like. And usually it is much grander and further away than you could imagine when you started out. Think of your next change project as a quest; you will already be more equipped for what is to come, and you will go further.  

Ava Cramp

Ava Cramp

Marketing Associate at Qvest. Ava is passionate about the power of questions and clear communication. When she is not juggling marketing tasks for Qvest, she is pursuing her Masters in Brand and Communication Management at Copenhagen Business School.

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