Challenging leaders to cultivate both their inner and outer skills necessary for success, Still Moving weaves together the 'being' and 'doing' of states of leading change and emphasises the importance of a mindful stance and deep systemic perception within a leader. With the goal of collaborative, sustainable change, the book delves into a variety of important topics, including present-moment awareness, intentional response, edge and tension and emergent change. Compelling and provocative, Still Moving questions the conventional wisdom of much change theory and asks that leaders first work on their inner source in order to more effortlessly change the world around them.
Deborah Rowland brings a unique combination of experience, insight, and research to the leadership of change. She has personally led change at the executive level in major global organizations including Shell, Gucci Group, BBC Worldwide, and PepsiCo. She also founded and grew a consulting firm that pioneered research in the field. Now, as founder of the consultancy Lead Free, she acts as a change coach to CEOs and their teams around the world. She is the co-author of Sustaining Change: Leadership That Works (Wiley, 2008).
Stillness is what creates love,
Movement is what creates life,
To be still,
Yet still moving -
That is everything!
Do Hyun Choe, Japanese Master
My life began in change, the ultimate change, when I was handed over at 6 weeks old and adopted into the welcome and hugely loving embrace of the Rowland family. I had experienced an ending, with my biological mother, at the very start of life. An in-between time, floating without family, in a Lancashire mother-and-babies home. And then here was a new beginning with my adopted family. Born Wendy Juliet, I was renamed Deborah Anne. Since that cataclysmic time, no change has ever seemed insurmountable.
It meant that I learned to live life on a boundary. As an adopted child I grew up with detached curiosity, an outsider in my own life. Seeking to belong yet hard-wired not to trust, I cautiously put one foot into my new family, and, at the same time, carefully kept one foot out, just in case I had to leave - or be left - again. Perhaps I was always on the look out for a bond, for intimacy. However, it seemed I both tumbled into it and ran away from it almost at the same time. The edge, for me, felt the safest place.
Yet this detachment, this instinct to be alongside rather than inside gave me a helpful vantage point to observe and notice. I was intensely curious about people, in particular how they related to each other and formed systems. I could make good use of my fate.
My earliest companion - detached curiosity - set my life on its course. Holding Mum and Dad's hands as a wondrous wide-eyed 10-year-old, I was transfixed by the blockbuster Tutankhamun exhibition in London in 1972, the treasure trove of royal Egyptian artefacts unearthed by the archaeologist Howard Carter. And when in 1977 Desmond Morris published Manwatching: A Field Guide to Human Behaviour , I knew I had found my field.
And so I read archaeology and anthropology at university. From the Trobrianders of New Guinea to the Nuer of the Nile, their ethnographies provided many hours of absorbing reading and reflection in the university library. The anthropological discipline of acute unbiased observation enhanced my sensitivity to diversity and to context. All thought and action, however seemingly strange, make perfect sense when you can see the system within which they are situated. I also spent many hours on my hands and knees in deep Neolithic trenches, using a tiny trowel to gently scrape away and reveal history's previously unearthed layers. I felt both strengthened and humbled when I stood in that deep messy line of time.
As compelling as the experience was, I put down my trowel and continued my personal line out of those trenches. And I did so because a single memory from just one anthropology lecture had already awakened my purpose. A purpose that has guided the intervening 30 years I have spent in business - and that still guides me today. Indeed, it is the reason why I write this book.
The memory came from a grainy black and white film shown in that fateful lecture. Shot at the turn of the last century, it falteringly documented how a group of British Christian missionaries entered a native tribe in Africa with the aim of 'civilising' its seemingly primitive culture. This was the change goal . As a result of inter-village warfare, this native culture was thought to be on the verge of extinction. What caught my attention, beyond the misguided arrogance of the change goal, was the change approach .
The missionaries decided to introduce the villagers to the game of cricket. Believing they would channel their aggression into this edifying game, the missionaries looked on aghast as the African warriors picked up the cricket stumps as javelins, and the cricket balls as missiles. Far from reducing the inter-village warfare, the change appr