What Drives You When the Fire Has Gone Out?

Article 08 July 2020

Can we Grow, rather than just Survive in the Covid World?

The experience of the last three months has been extraordinary in terms of how it has tested us, both psychologically, and as a business. Early on, the challenge was one of adaptation, and how we could learn in an agile way to meet the needs of our clients using virtual technology and still assure them of the intimacy and authenticity of our work. It was difficult, but Sheppard Moscow did well in this regard; we were able to get on the front foot, and engage with our clients and customers in new ways of working yet still preserving our unique way of ‘being in relationship’ with our clients. We reassured them that teams could still work together effectively, leaders could be developed, and that employees could still be engaged in large-scale culture change movements – all whilst being delivered virtually, and working through our #CARE framework.

Deborah Describes #CAREs

We see many similar stories from our clients – how they have adapted quickly to making new products or engaging in delivering new services to their customers.  We saw many clients respond to the Covid 19 crisis with agility and responsiveness and see great results.  Real and significant pastoral breakthroughs were also achieved, as organisations managed to keep their care and attention on their people and were able to keep employees engaged, cared for and committed, despite many people now working from home. Indeed, we heard stories that the crisis pulled people together, and many clients reported how they were working more effectively now that all the usual noise has fallen away, and that everyone was united by the common goal of needing to survive.

But as I have been talking to clients over the last couple of weeks, I am beginning to hear that the ‘pull’ of the Covid ‘Burning Platform’ is now eroding. Adaptation has now taken place and the phrase ‘new normal’ is being bandied about. I am hearing that people now are less motivated and inspired by the need to adapt and are now reporting burnout and exhaustion. Many employees have given everything they have to help their companies continue and yet have lost control of their own boundaries. Many conversations I am having with people reveal that they are beginning to experience loneliness, guilt, and overwhelm. It seems that ‘Resilience’ is the new challenge, replacing ‘Adaptation’.


Much has been said on this, and other platforms, about how we can build more resilience, so instead I want to explore the question of ‘What drives us now?’ 
As the ‘pull’ of the Burning Platform reduces to an ember, how else can organisations help their people feel inspired to reach for something new? 
How can we create a new ‘Burning Desire’ to provide a new collective endeavour and motivation?


I am discovering that it is as important now to help teams and groups coalesce around a positive vision of what is needed – as it ever was. It is not enough to adapt, and survive, but to grow, we still need a collective goal that is desirable, achievable and inspiring – it creates cognitive dissonance, or ‘Creative Tension’ (Fritz) when one holds the understanding of the current reality and it is at odds with what one desires. And that tension creates energy and momentum as we seek to resolve the tension.

In much of our work, I have experienced that tension first hand as colleagues and clients identify a discrepancy between what they want and what they have. That can be a little uncomfortable but it is that discomfort that pushes us to create something new. I have seen those colleagues and friends literally sparked to do something different, reach for something new and open themselves up to alternative approaches. It has a different feel to one of crisis resolution…it speaks more to growth and evolution…as Robert Fritz said:


“Creating is no problem – but problem solving is not creating”

What are you experiencing in your organisations? How are people now being inspired to be creative and grow?  I’d love to hear your views.

Sheppard_Moscow_Headshots_189.jpg Deborah Gray