Systems conveners: essential workers long term

In 2014, we wrote a chapter on what we called “systems conveners,” people who work to increase learning capability across a whole social landscape that includes many practices, institutions, and stakeholders. It’s not just about big acts of leadership or leadership on a large scale. It is also about taking leadership to bring a broader perspective into local efforts to make a difference.

A surprising outcome from that chapter is the number of people who said that it made them cry: finally, they felt, the work they do was being acknowledged.

And that was before COVID-19. The outbreak of the coronavirus – a landscape problem if ever there was one – calls for systems convening. The crisis should be shining a light on the persistence, work, and value of those who work to enable learning partnerships across boundaries. Their leadership (often invisible) is needed more than ever to leverage synergetic, cross-boundary responses to uncertainty in a global crisis.

Systems convening handbook

The timing coincides with our writing of a handbook about systems convening. It was commissioned by a collaborative of foundations concerned with systems change for societal good. We’ll be trying to understand more systematically the essence of systems convening; to articulate and promote the value of this type of leadership; and to encourage proactive and imaginative ways to develop the practice further.

We’ve set up a home page for systems convening on our website here.

Systems convening discussion group

Meantime, we’ve also opened a discussion group on systems convening. There is no systematic moderation there, but we’ll be using the group to test out ideas and get feedback. We have around 80 people already in there, from different parts of the world and who seem to be doing inspirational stuff. 

Systems convening workshop

Finally, we’re running an online workshop on systems convening in September to coincide with finalizing the draft of the handbook. So far we’ve had more people signing up for this workshop than any other. It feels like there’s interest out there.

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