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Quests .☆⋆*:・゚

A quest is the search for viable alternative options to the default ways of doing things. Where operational leaders focus on keeping the ball rolling—a questing leader would ask: where ought we be rolling the ball to?

My book, How to Lead a Quest, presents an insightful overview of how Quest Leadership can augment operational strategy with optionality.

By questing we work to ensure that the efforts of your enterprise are orientated towards relevance realisation. This is done by the development, cultivation and maintenance of a ‘quiver of options’—strategic initiatives we may deploy in the future should the right conditions manifest. It’s via this quest-augmented strategic optionality that many of my questing clients have done so well in response to rapid shifts in context (such that the pandemic, artificial intelligence, decentralised finance and other disruptions bring).

By questing we ultimately seek coherence—a state in which our business model and operating system makes sense in current and emerging contexts.

If, say, you were to be advertising your business today using the telephone book, it could be argued that this activity is incoherent to our current context. It doesn’t make sense. Forty years ago it may have made sense—but not today: we have the internet.

And yet: there are plenty of things we are doing right now that already don’t make sense—let alone will they make any sense in the very near future.

Quests are an ongoing orientation towards meaningful progress—as distinct from the delusion of progress. Without questing, enterprise strategy tends to look like banal incrementalism (doing what was done before; just slightly better) and bandwagonism (scanning the zeitgeist for whatever narrative is popular, and doing that). This is not a recipe for enduring relevance.

Questing is the precursor to strategy.

Some of my adventures with questing teams have spanned multiple years, and seen the genesis of new multi-million dollar companies. Some have also seen the recruitment of whole new teams and divisions. And yet, naturally, all of this is subject to non-disclosure agreements. I thus, cannot tell you about the magic that is being cultivated with this questing teams.

But I can tell you this: questing only works when there is fellowship and accord. Scenius (collective genius) and camaraderie must be cultivated first. I have, unfortunately, learnt this the hard way. In times past I would enthusiastically agree to work with clients who had read and loved my book—only to see the initiative become co-opted by leaders more concerned with the aesthetics of questing—the ‘theatre’ of innovation—more so than the merits of the endeavour. Yet quests cannot be seen as mere ‘hackathons’ to ‘generate ideas’. They are not brainstorming activities—they are your in-house intelligence unit. Your questing teams are a form of reconnoissance—yielding insight to enrich and inform strategic decision making via participatory learning in emerging domains.

This is too much for many enterprises to grok in one go. Thus: I facilitate 'side quests' for enterprising teams, as a kind of introductory sally.

Side Quests

Side quests unite a fellowship of 5±2 leaders who partake in a curated sequence of weekly virtual 'speakeasy' sense-making sessions over a season (~3 months). Interlaced with contextually relevant assignments, these sessions imbue your leaders with the kind of wisdom and insight that can only be gleaned via direct participation in emerging domains. That is: knowledge beyond what can simply be grokked via online punditry. Your enterprise will be smarter, wiser and all the more savvy for it.

I currently offer five domains for these wizardly assisted side quests:

1. Blockchain technology and decentralised finance (an inevitability)
2. Applied artificial intelligence (strategic implications and opportunities)
3. Decentralised leadership and coordination (aka: the future of work)
4. Regenerative finance and climate positive pathways (a glimmer of hope)
5. web3 culture, street smarts and savvy (into the dark forest and beyond)

Should you wish to embark upon a side quest, as a harbinger of grander pursuits, do not hesitate to make your intentions known.