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The Rumble Zone

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The Rumble Zone

Leadership Strategies in the Rough & Tumble of Change


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

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How is a drum circle like working in an organization?

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Most people associate drum circles with the counterculture and rarely think of them in relation to how their corporations function. However, drum circles can build emotional and energetic connections among people, says drummer and organizational change expert Jim Boneau. The energy of the drum circle can provide a powerful transformational metaphor for organizational change. All of that happens in the “rumble,” a time of chaos and change.


In a drum circle and an organization, a “rumble” is a time of chaos and transformation.

Drum circles blend the energy of many participants and can incorporate a range of instruments. Rhythms rise and clash, and can overwhelm the senses and the mind. When people play near one another, they find a shared rhythm. At the same time, each participant brings something special to the circle. This is a metaphor and a catalyst for organizational interaction. At times, the rhythms in a drum circle “wobble.” Participants feel the wobble as it grows, and the groove falls apart. They feel helpless to fight it. Some people stop drumming. Others follow their personal rhythms, and they don’t recognize that the group rhythm is breaking down.

Organizations work similarly. A leader might have the instinct to save a group, and impose order when it starts to wobble so it doesn’t dissolve into chaos. If the leader lets the wobble continue, participants find their way out and create a new rhythm. The facilitator can guide this transition from rhythm to rhythm, in drum circles and in organizations. A facilitator can quiet or stop the group, speed up the rhythm...

About the Author

Jim Boneau leads drum circles and facilitates organizational change.

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