Systems convening

a new book

Social learning across complex landscapes requires a certain kind of leadership, which we have called systems convening. Many people do this kind of work without any label, often unrecognized, and sometimes not even particularly aware that they are doing it. 

A systems convener or systems convening team sets up spaces for new types of conversations between people who often live on different sides of a boundary. For example, a geographic, cultural, disciplinary, political, class, social boundary. 

These conveners see a social landscape with all its separate and related practices through a wide-angle lens: they spot opportunities for creating new learning spaces and partnership that will bring different and often unlikely people together to engage in learning across boundaries.

A systems convener takes a “landscape view” of wherever they are and what they need to do to increase the learning capability of that entire landscape – rather than simply the capability of the space they are standing in. Importantly, a systems convener is someone who has enough legitimacy in different worlds to be able to convene people in those different worlds into a joint conversation.

Our book draws on interviews with 40 systems conveners who are using this approach around the world, working on diverse issues ranging from improving government transparency to enhancing cancer care.

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