SOMETIMES IT IS THE PEOPLE WHO NO ONE IMAGINES ANYTHING OF, WHO DO THE THINGS THAT NO ONE CAN IMAGINE
Recently I watched The Imitation Game; it is a fascinating story of Alan Turing, the inventor of the computer and the man who cracked the Enigma Code used by the Nazis during the Second World War, to encrypt messages.
Cracking the enigma code was a quest of epic proportions. Alan Turing had to go up against all of the challenges questers routinely face. He had to win over his fellow workers and inspire them to believe in the quest he was on. He had to overcome countless obstacles placed in front of him by the commander of Bletchley Park – representing the establishment protecting the old paradigms and ways of doing things – and he had to achieve what many thought and indeed believed to be impossible.
To make the impossible, possible, Turing had a bold idea, build a machine to break the code of the world’s greatest encryption machine. His quest delivers on all of the three qualities of quest outlined in my Book Quest – Competitive Advantage and the Art of Leadership in the 21st Century:
1. First Quality of a Quest: Strive to overcome the impossible
There were good reasons for believing that cracking the enigma code was impossible, as Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Alan Turing in the film, explains in one of the scenes, “there are 159 million, million, million possible Enigma settings. All we had to do was try each one. But if we had 10 men checking one setting a minute for 24 hours every day and seven days every week, how many days do you think it would take to check each of the settings? Well, it’s not days; it’s years. It’s 20 million years. To stop an incoming attack, we would have to check 20 million years’ worth of settings in 20 minutes.”
Questers passionately believe they can overcome the impossible and take their world, the world they touch to a higher and better level. As Nelson Mandela said, “it always seems impossible until it is done”
2. Second Quality of a Quest: Deliver meaningful benefits
It is estimated that Alan Turing’s work in Bletchley Park shortened the war by two years and saved 14 million lives. Indeed, his actions delivered considerable and meaningful benefits.
3. Third Quality of a Quest: Have an inspirational, outcome-focused destination
For Alan Turing the quest’s destination was crystal clear: Crack the enigma code.
Quests are incredibly powerful forces in leading change. Our research shows that the three qualities of a quest can be used by leaders as a framework for delivering strategic and tactical plans on a daily basis. Quests also enable leaders to do their big bit or small bit to deliver meaningful benefits to their world of influence.
In a world that is rapidly changing, quests offer opportunities to shape the future, gain competitive advantage and deliver truly meaningful benefits to customers, co-workers and the word you touch