May 1, 2020
Introduction: Covid-19 struck like a
thunderbolt and has thrown the world upside down. Many are still
reeling as we grapple to right side for a new order. All of us have
been forced to wake to a new reality, to pause and immediately
assume a virtual reality for most of the population. Teams have
been beset too. Episode one is an invitation to look at how teams
can use this big pause to be with what the environment and threat
is forcing upon us and to rethink our ways of working.
Podcast episode summary: I spoke with Krister
Lowe, Melissa Hughes and Alexander Caillet to hear their thoughts
and ideas to support teams through Covid-19. Essentially the panel
echoed the sentiments expressed by so many in different systems .We
are all experiencing extraordinary levels of uncertainty and
anxiety, oscillating between polarities simultaneously. Teams are
no different. The panel suggested that teams need to take
stock, to reform & re-norm to delight in the fact that
our current levels of kindness & humaneness is not impacting
productivity. There was an acknowledgement that it took
something like Covid-19 to stop 8bln people on a runaway train of
80+ hours of work, an erosion of the planet and consumption and
travel at unstainable levels. The gift of Covid-19 is the
opportunity to transform.
Points made through the episode:
- It is normal to feel so discombobulated. There is huge
variability in our state of minds, oscillating between despair and
hope, action and rest, reflection and analysis. Mindfulness
practices and centring practices can bring these polarities
- Melissa suggested the book title “Permission to feel” and
instead of beating ourselves up or feeling guilty about lack or
gaps in productivity to instead get creative about stuff that is
good for us right now.
- Remember from our evolutionary psychology that emotions are
good for us. They serve, so it is important that we don’t resist
what they are sharing as information hits & be with what is
- There is a huge creative force being unleashed -The world is
poised and pregnant with possibility. Krister, reminded us of a
quote from Laozi- “Our highest virtue does nothing, yet nothing
needs to be done, the lowest virtue does everything and much
remains to be done”
- By doing nothing right now or very little by staying at home we
are actually helping beat Covid-19 and similarly at work or
virtually with our teams we can use this pause to think about what
needs changing rather than trying to get into endless
- Alexander pointed out that Teams need to first get familiar
with the technology of working virtually, then consider the
security and viability of various options as well as the ergonomics
for remote working. Then teams need to consider ways of working
given virtual , the nature of teaming and for a new identity
- There are silver linings to be had from this this extraordinary
change, including our appreciation of humanity, the dynamic between
task and relationships with a rebalancing of both- it is also
challenging some previously unquestioned assumptions like working
from home and what that can do for the planet, commercial real
estate and a rebalancing of our personal needs
- One norm that is being appreciated by the panel that they wish
not to be lost is the idea of slow is fast. How do we relish more
with less? Forever forgetting the runaway train of relentless
productivity and consumerism to which we were all attached.
- Danger that we will consume zoom like we used to consume
meetings. Advice to be judicious with the forms of meetings we
chose, to consider phone, email, IM along with zoom. To allow for a
default for 15 minute meetings with an option to extend, or to
consider ending zoom meetings at 25 mins or 50 to allow the brain
- Consider Agile practices like Kan-ban and options like Mural
for team meetings.
- The panel shared some tips for teams including limiting number
of things you attempt to get accomplished in a day, having four
hours -worth of meetings in a day for example. Consider boundaries.
Consider all the many informal ways people used to connect and
approximate them in the virtual space.
- Replicate the physical space in a virtual reality with some
obvious adjustments. Balance task and relationship orientation and
consider getting support with conversation facilitation.
- Important to keep in mind the huge suffering happening in the
world. Many of us with work are lucky.
- We are experiencing a VUCA world on steroids.
- The brain is less able to cope with uncertainty than it is with
predicable threats. Aim to bring some structure and control into
your daily rhythms
- We are in-between two ports. We continue to need to get stuff
done and we have the opportunity to reflect and change. Encourage
your teams to get innovative.
- The panel concluded by sharing some wisdom and hope for teams.
We will emerge and we will figure this out. We are a creative
species so allow for creativity. Teams are the unit of analysis so
find a team. Get skilled in conversational facilitation, an
imperative to navigate virtual teaming.
“the highest virtue does nothing, Yet nothing needs to be done. The
Lowest virtue does everything. Yet much remains to be done”
Resources: the following include the resources
I alluded to in this episode.
- “Why you should ignore all that Coronavirus inspired
productivity pressure” Aisha Ahmad, Associate Professor Toronto
University -The Chronicle of Higher Education March 27th 2020
- Permission to feel: The power of Emotional Intelligence to
achieve well -being and success.