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August 2020




We exist in a time when the world is rapidly changing around us, and we in turn need to change in order to keep up. Organisations are currently in the process of trying to understand what a “new normal” might look, from both a societal and economic point of view (in an earlier blog, I mentioned that the key “missing” ingredient here is the motivational perspective). Whatever our situation, whether we are furloughed and awaiting a return to world, employed but in completely different circumstances to what we’re used to, currently jobless, freelance or self-employed, or running a business, one thing remains clear: we have to find a new way to operate to survive in this climate, whether survival means bringing in sufficient revenue as an organisation, avoiding succumbing to mental burnout and exhaustion, or finding another job.


The problem with change, however, is that so often we think we can just “will it” into being. I’m not even talking about people who daydream and don’t take action. I mean that, even when we take action, often we are unable to fully enact change. Our heart isn’t in it. The changes don’t “stick”. We’ve seen this before. A common example are people on diets, who manage to maintain the diet for weeks, sometimes months, but inevitably fall off. Or very strict exercise regimes, that seem to be so rewarding at first, but ultimately become unsustainable. There are many factors, of course, in why these changes don’t stick. One might be to do with the Japanese principle of “kaizen”. We have a tendency to bite off more than we can chew, which leads to “indigestion” of sorts, whereas if we practice kaizen, taking smaller “bite-size” steps, we might be in for greater longevity. However, I believe that there is one central issue that is deeper and more important than the techniques we deploy to instigate change, which I alluded to by saying “our heart isn’t in it”: we need an emotional experience.


Christopher Nolan’s 2010 thriller Inception is undoubtedly one of the truly great films of the last two decades. However, the reason I believe it to be great is not due to its dream-sequence visuals (although they’re impressive), the stellar performances of the cast, or even the complexity of its narrative. Rather, I think it’s brilliant because it highlights a profound truth that we all need to learn if we are to effectively instigate change, whether for ourselves or in our businesses.


In order to change, we have to have an emotional experience, a catharsis, if you will.


For those who have not seen the movie, the central concept is this: “inception” is a process by which an idea is inserted into someone’s mind by delving deep into layers of consciousness. The aim of our protagonist Cobb, played by the ferocious DiCaprio, is to plant an idea in the mind of a young heir to a global business monopoly (played by the enigmatic Cillian Murphy). The idea is for the heir, upon inheriting his father’s company, to dismantle the organisation. It is Tom Hardy’s character, Eames, who makes the brilliant observation that the idea is “too complex” to be inserted directly and needs to be broken down and turned into an emotion in order to take root. Eventually, they distil it down to the phrase “I am not my father”. Capitalising on the problematic and strained relationship between the young heir and his father, they realise that it is only by creating a healing narrative between father and son that the idea can blossom. In Cobb’s words, “Positive emotion trumps negative every time”. We all yearn for reconciliation. In an incredibly moving and well-acted scene, we see the young heir revisit the moment of his father’s death, but instead hear a different interpretation of the words his father uttered on his deathbed. This becomes the catalyst for change.


Psychologically, this is so true. When we are inspired by emotion, we move effortlessly and with replete energy towards our goals. We can change our behaviours drastically. Though negative emotions can inspire change (think of the images of animal cruelty that inspire people to become vegetarians or vegans), I believe Nolan was right when he said positive emotions are king, and even more likely to instigate longterm transformation.


But how can we do this in an organisational setting? How can we give our colleagues or employees a catharsis that inspires them to change the way they operate? Sadly, unlike in Inception, we lack the technology to enter people’s dreamscapes, and image-streaming an entire organisation would be strenuous and inconsistent to say the least! So, we need another approach.


Of course, I am biased, but I do genuinely believe Motivational Maps is one way to inspire that catharsis, as receiving one’s Map, and gaining self-insight (sometimes it is for the first time for an individual) can be a very emotive experience. Many of the Business Practitioners we have interviewed in our “Interview with a BP” series speak about the “aha” moment with their clients and Licensed Practitioners. It can even be an emotive experience when you subsequently come to do a second or third Map, as the shift in profile can reflect a change in beliefs which is very powerful. Whatever tool you choose to use to inspire, remember that an authentic and inspiring narrative, that reaches people on an emotional level, is far more likely to help your employees or colleagues change than all the data or technology in the world.


If you want to find out more about the Maps, where they come from, how they work, and how you can use them to improve your relationships with other people and most importantly yourself, then you can take a look at my book Mapping Motivation, which is a complete and comprehensive guide to the Maps!






Due to the lockdown, many businesses and families are struggling. For most of us, quite rightly, the pandemic has been a time to reflect on what is most important, and to cut down to the bare essentials. This means that many services, including coaching, training, mentoring, and “strategic mapping”, are no longer top priority for organisations. Though, in the UK, lockdown measures are lifting, it is warily. Many people are still furloughed, or worse: jobless. For those reintegrating with work after long periods in isolation or furloughed, simultaneously adapting to a new way of working, and picking up the old threads, can be challenging in the extreme. For those seeking new work, having been made redundant, they face a period of uncertainty – as many roles are becoming obsolete with the advent of remote working and new methodologies resulting from the pandemic. In short, this is a time of upheaval, change, adaptability, and perhaps most significantly: a time where a huge majority of people feel uncertain, de-motivated and de-energised, and in need of guidance.


Contrary to what organisations may be saying, motivation is now more important than ever before. Whilst it is tempting to disregard what is seen as extraneous to making ends meet, on the contrary, it is through inspiring people and bringing them together that the challenges of coronavirus and lockdown can be overcome – whether financial, in terms of delivering to customers, or otherwise. Whilst this might all sound “airy fairy”, there is a seriously pragmatic approach behind this. Inspiring people and energising them is not a one-time activity (a mistake many companies make), it is an ongoing process that requires monitoring and nurturing in the same way that financial experts continually monitor the metrics of profitability. With Maps, we have the capability to see these metrics and therefore monitor them, but I am skipping ahead.

Firstly, we need to understand a few key things about the lockdown and how it might be affecting people’s motivations (and therefore energy and mood).


1) Some people will like working from home, and some won’t.

It sounds obvious, but it is amazing how organisations seem very uncertain about how to manage remote-working staff. The Maps clearly reveals that depending on your motivations, you may get a boost from working from home or not. The more socially-driven motivators, or “Relationship Cluster” as we call them, such as Defender, Friend, and Star may find self-isolation a very haunting and troubling experience. On the other hand, the more Growth-orientated motivators, such as Creator and Spirit, may find it liberating and exhilarating – people with these motivators in their profile have likely been campaigning to be allowed to work from home long before lockdown!


2) Zoom changes the dynamics of communication

Zoom is a wonderful tool and has helped keep us “together” through lockdown. However, as wonderful as Zoom is, it is limited. A friend of mine, who is a film-director, said, “Nothing compares to the energy of two creative people in the same room.” I think there is a lot of truth in this, especially if the people in question have motivators that are more socially aligned. We can have great conversations on Zoom, we can share ideas and work using Google Docs and Trello and other online tools, but it will never compare to being in the same room; we need to be aware of this, because it means that the dynamics of your teams are going to change. If you have an expected output, you may have to alter expectations of that output. Working remotely might not mean less productivity, necessarily, but it will certainly mean that the nature of what the teams produce (whether that’s a physical product, or sales, or copy, or strategies – whatever) – is going to change.


3) Some motivators are going to become more prevalent in this time than others

The Motivational Map, unlike psychometrics, measures the part of us that is “nurture”. Aka, not the biological and intrinsic part of us that is unchangeable and fixed, but our inner drives, which can change in correspondence with our inner beliefs, particularly when they are influenced by experience. The pandemic has been a pretty drastic and life-altering experience for many, and so it’s natural that our motivators may shift. It is very likely that the Defender motivator will be a lot higher in the rankings for many people, or perhaps even become their number-one motivator. The Defender seeks security, stability, and predictability. It is very easy to see how these values might be expressed in our current situation: being hygienic, wearing a face-mask, maintaining social distancing, minimising contact with others. Of course, these are the guidelines that all of us should be following, but we will find that high Defenders will practice them religiously and even to the detriment of their relationships with others (getting into arguments, accusing others of malpractice, perhaps even reporting other people to the police if they perceive them to have broken “the rules”). Please note that I am not in any way criticising people that have a high Defender motivator, or people who follow the guidelines, as I myself follow them as assiduously as possible! - but I merely wish to draw attention to the fact that we must take this new dominant motivational preference into consideration when dealing with our staff, our customers, our clients, and yes, even our friends and families!


It should be noted that, for some people, the reverse is going to occur. Their Defender motivators may drop to the very bottom of their rankings. This might seem paradoxical, but it will be linked with inner beliefs. A good example of this would be a self-employed freelancer I know. Before lockdown, Defender was never a high motivator, and usually floated around number 7 or 8 (out of 9). So, a very low priority for them. But in lockdown, it has dropped to 9. Discussing this with them, it’s my understanding that they have an inner belief about creativity and hard work. They pride themselves on the fact that they are able to survive in lockdown on the basis of their ingenuity and sales-ability. The whole world has been turned upside down, and everything is changing, so what use is predictability to them?


You can see from this how the pandemic is polarising, and that people will respond differently depending on their beliefs and motivations. For the freelancer, the pandemic was proof that a stable job was bad idea – you were likely to get fired or furloughed. However, for others, it will have intensified the importance of a stable role.


So, now we understand these conditions, let’s look at some actions we can take in relation to motivating people!


1) Optimise and empower our staff by letting them work in the way that is most motivating for them.

We need to make sure that rather than having “blanket” rules (such as, “Everyone will come back to work in the office as soon as possible”) we instead let people play to their strengths. When we are motivated, we have more energy, we’re happier, and so we’re far more productive. A lot of researchers are now looking into whether working from home is more or less productive, but as always, the reality is “it depends” - on how motivated someone is and whether their motivations align with the methodology of home-working.


Here would be one idea for an action plan: have all your staff (whether furloughed, working, remote, or onsite) complete a Motivational Map, and then get feedback from a Maps practitioner on whether any staff are in a non-ideal position.


2) Learn about how communication styles impact teamwork

I use a tool called the Five Elements model. This is outlined in my book, co-authored with Jane Thomas, Mapping Motivation for Leadership. To give you a rough overview, the Five Elements model asserts there are five key styles of communication, and each one has a corresponding preferred medium of communication (such as speech, or written, for example). Therefore, we have to understand that communicating online is going to change the “balance of power”, for want of a better phrase, in your teams. Some voices are going to be louder, because their preferred mediums are the dominant one used by the organisation, whereas others may wane, as they feel they have no avenues to make their voice heard.


Here’s an action plan: speak with a coach about the communication styles in your teams, and endeavour to discover how lockdown and remote-working may have changed the dynamics of those teams, and communicate the findings (respectfully and transparently) with the teams, so that everyone is aware of potential blindspots.


3) Customise your approach to take into account the new dominant motivators

We cannot simply ignore such a tremendous cultural shift, or pine for “business as usual”. It’s very clear that even when coronavirus clears, it will be a long time before we return to “normal”, if indeed we ever do. I think it highly likely that the lockdown will usher in several longterm changes to the way we do things in the world. Lots of businesses are also trying to establish what the “new normal” is, but they are mostly doing this from a practical and logistical viewpoint, rather than a motivational one. This is missing a trick, because it is the motivational, “inner” landscape that will affect and drive the external one. How people feel will determine what the “new normal” looks like, not the other way around.


So, now we understand this, it becomes clear that we have to cater what we do going forward toward reaching the “new normal” motivators: Defender. We also have to recognise the motivators that will have been massively under-met (or “unfulfilled” might be a better term) during lockdown, such as the Friend. Finally, we have to think creatively about how we can appeal and utilise the “radicals”, the ones who have relegated “safety and security” in favour of thriving on their own creative abundance. What can we learn from them about self-sufficiency, and thriving without dependency on government loans or corporate institutions? Equally, if you are one of these “radicals”, what can you learn from the stability of connectedness and playing things a little safer?


Ultimately, it’s clear that we have a lot to learn from this pandemic, at a global, national, organisational and personal level. However, if there is one key takeaway or “top-line”, then it would be: put motivation at the centre of your focus, because without motivation, we have no fuel in the engine, and roadblocks like this will stop us for good.



Find out more about Motivational Maps here.


Frequently, people ask me “where do the Maps come from?” This question is very important, because it is not only about the origins of the Maps – the thinking that they might be rooted in – but also about their validity. Anyone who has created a product or service will know, especially if they are trying to do something relatively new, that the question of validity is a battle that never truly ends. One is reminded a little of the questions of the Pharisees when they interrogate Jesus, “On whose authority do you say these things?” People want to know what “authority” we have to create something, or change something, or make a statement about the world. Whilst the Motivational Map is ISO certified (17065), and has been proven “in action” for over fourteen years, these are not, in themselves, enough to address the question of “validity” and “authority” when it is raised in earnest. Something more is required, and it is my intention to shed light on that something!


But before I go on to answer this question “Where do the Maps come from?”, it’s worth me saying what the Maps are in the here and now. The Motivational Map is a self-perception inventory that measures what motivates us and how motivated we are in our current role. It is a tool that offers us insight into what really drives us and energises us, both in the workplace and beyond.


The Maps have their roots in three primary sources: Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and the Enneagram. There is a common misconception that the Map is a “personality profiling” tool, but nothing could be further from the truth. The thing about personality profiles is that they are more pervasive, and therefore more familiar to organisations. In addition, they are easier to validate because, by definition, they always produce the same result, which researchers love. However, Maps does not measure fixed personality archetypes, but rather internal drivers which stem from core belief systems. The oft-forgotten playwright Christopher Marlowe once wrote the line “Aye, think so still, till experience change thy mind” (Dr Faustus, 1604). Our beliefs change over time with new experiences (or at least, they do if we are healthy and not completely close-minded), and so our internal drivers will also change in correlation to changes in our beliefs. This is not to say that some motivators may not be fixed in place for a very long time, perhaps even a lifetime, but unlike personality profiling tools, we do not reduce people to one archetype (though I recognise here there are exceptions, such as Myers Briggs, that offers a more multifaceted analysis), but recognise that we likely have more than one motivator and driver and also de-motivators.



In fact, by cross-examining the Career Anchors, Hierarchy of Needs, and Enneagram, I discovered that there were nine motivators driving human behaviour, and that these nine motivators were grouped into three sets of three due to properties that they shared. For example, some motivators were directed toward the future: creating new things, seeking freedom and independence, and making a difference to others. Others, were more rooted in the past: security and predictability, belonging, and recognition. This was also correlated by the models I had used to construct the Maps, as the Career Anchors were more focused on “work goals” (therefore future orientated), the Hierarchy of Needs on present concerns (present “needs” literally), and the Enneagram on a more fixed and rooted “past self” (although it does also have a model for growth in that there are personality types we need to move “toward” to overcome our deficiencies and blindspots). It should be noted that in terms of the “pyramid” of Maslow’s Hierarchy, the nine motivators sit above the level of “survival” or “biological needs” (such as food, and shelter). Therefore, they are what might be called “secondary” drivers. Still, having said that, these drivers are awesomely powerful, and once we are fed and watered, they will dictate to us what our true priority is.


I have talked about the nine motivators, so it is worth me now explaining what each of these are:


DEFENDER – the need for security

FRIEND – the need for belonging

STAR – the need for recognition

DIRECTOR – the need for control

BUILDER – the need for material gain

EXPERT – the need for knowledge

CREATOR – the need to create

SPIRIT – the need for independence and freedom

SEARCHER – the need to make a difference


The Nine Motivators
The Nine Motivators

I mentioned that unlike personality profiling, we do not reduce people to one archetype. This is because, learning from Maslow, we actually have all nine motivators in our profile. We need all nine, in fact, in order to be fully happy and rounded human beings. However, these are in an order of priority. If one were to think of the nine motivators as ingredients in a dish, then each person has a unique recipe, requiring different quantities of these ingredients. What the Maps does is give you a detailed breakdown of that secret recipe, so that you, and also the people around you, can take action and feed your motivations.


One important thing to mention is that most people believe they already know what motivates them, but when faced with a Maps report, or some other evidence of their inner drivers, they often find themselves stunned and surprised (but accepting) of the truth, because it is rarely as they imagined it to be. As I mentioned earlier, our motivations are linked to our core beliefs, and therefore, they are deeper than conscious thought and occupy the realm of emotion – which is irrational and deeper. We may “think” we want secure jobs, or a nice house, or a fast car, but deeper within our psyche lie our real motivators, which might tell and entirely different story. By tapping these deeper drivers, we can access a reservoir of energy and enthusiasm that can fuel us in our day-to-day lives and lead us to success and fulfilment. They say, “If you do a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” and I am a profound believer in that statement. When we do work we love, aka: that fulfils our motivators, we are in a state of “play”, like a child, and is there anything more joyful than that?


So, to answer the question of “where do the Maps come from?”, is in some ways an analog of the entire process of “Mapping Motivation”. Our motivations lie within us, and have done all along. The Maps come from a desire to understand and chart these vast, yet hidden, psychological territories.




If you want to find out more about the Maps, where they come from, how they work, and how you can use them to improve your relationships with other people and most importantly yourself, then you can take a look at my book Mapping Motivation, which is a complete and comprehensive guide to the Maps!