We’ve probably all noticed what Giles calls the “rising zeitgeist around regeneration”. Regenerative leadership, and regenerative organisations, are a movement whose time seems to have arrived. I personally couldn’t be more delighted. This is a shift the world needs, and Giles has written a valuable, authoritative book to guide people on that shift. Giles has done a brilliant job, and I recommend the book very highly to everyone in my network.
Of course, I’m biased. I run a company called GameShift and we are working with clients on many aspects of systems shifts that Giles is talking about. I spent a decade running a Masters degree in sustainability and responsibility, and teaching at Schumacher College in Devon. This is a book that brings to the boardroom and management teams the sort of wisdom that once upon a time had to be sought in esoteric corners of the organisational and educational world. This book is part of bringing vital insights and practices to a much wider leadership world, and I for one am excited by it.
Giles does the job so well. He focuses on three phases – Opening to the shift, Embodying the shift and Manifesting the shift, and at every turn he brings his immense experience of working with leaders and teams to share practical ideas on the inner and outer arcs of this shift, and how to invite these arcs to work together. The book is encyclopaedic in its theoretical underpinnings (I’ve always admired Giles’ work for his scholarship) and comes with a valuable set of references for those seeking rigour and further study. But for those with less time, or less inclination, it also features a brilliant case study of Vivobarefoot and its regenerative shift, in a story written from the perspective of the leaders involved. There’s also a handy “playbook”, which is as clear and straightforward a summary of the “how to” of regenerative leadership I’ve ever seen.
Two personal angles about this book delight me even more:
The first is that the systems challenges Giles talks about, and the broad trajectory of his practices and playbook, are really resonant with the work I’ve been doing for years, and which I have tried to write about in some of my writings, most recently with my co-author Philippa Hardman. Our book Disrupted! (2021) and our European Business Review series co-authored with Michael Chaskalson looked at some aspects of the inner leadership work that Giles talks about here. But Giles has gone much further, in weaving all of this together into a theoretical and practical guide to regenerative work and why it matters, and it is wonderful to have this powerful book as a resources to aid our further work.
The second is that it is by Giles. It’s easy to be cynical about books that look like they might be riding the wave of a fad – and this one could be taken that way – except I know for a fact it isn’t. I’ve known Giles for a long time, since his Big 4 consulting days, and since he quit to work on his first book many years back. I remember long walks on Dartmoor with Giles talking over deep ecology, organisational theory and the juicy edges of new thinking. This was at a time when taking this work into the mainstream of organisational life felt far off indeed. I know that Giles is not riding a fad. Giles has done the work and carries this insight in his bones. When you approach this book, you can approach it with the confidence of knowing that this author has really walked this path, and has walked it with others in your shoes. It’s the real deal.
Giles describes this regenerative approach as “completely natural and radically different”. Yes, it is. And it’s an idea whose time has come. This book is well worth your time.
You can find the book here.