This post was contributed by Mike Rowlands

As planned, a number of us connected over a meal at Social Venture Network’s fall conference, and talked about the ‘Convening the Conveners’ concept, and the initial conversation at SOCAP. We took the opportunity to get to know each other and learn about one another’s convenings, and then we spent the bulk of our time together talking about additional ideas for this emerging ‘platform’ for us all to connect and share ideas and practices.

In attendance were…

  • Shilpa Jain, YES!
  • Jessica Norwood, Emerging Changemakers
  • Pia Infante, Rockwood Leadership Institute
  • Claudia Welss, Nexus
  • Katie Greenman, Nexus
  • Jessie Tolkan, Web of Change
  • Ian Fisk, William James Foundation
  • Mike Rowlands (me), Social Venture Institute – Hollyhock, and Junxion Strategy

It was great simply to connect with such a dynamic and dedicated group of people! And we also developed a few insights and ideas that we wanted to share back to this thread….

  1. Ideally, a platform for connections, continuing in this light touch / meet-when-we’re-already-together approach is welcomed. The group could be supported, though, with an online platform that allows for an honest sharing of lessons learned, particularly across sectors. There’s always value in learning from others’ experiences as they overcome challenges, and in the particular context and work of convening, there’s significant utility in understanding how others have already overcome challenges each of us faces.
  2. It also may be valuable in these times when we do connect face-to-face to adopt a ‘train the trainer’ approach, and dedicate time to sharing insights and ideas directly.
  3. One specific ask, and likely one that’s commonly needed, was for specific tools and techniques to host and hold hard conversations. The topics might vary, but the skills required to create space for and enter into challenging dialogues is common across most (or all) of us and our events. (I learned some great techniques at Art of Leadership this past summer, and imagine some of those techniques already are open sourced.)
  4. Building on that specific ask, the general idea of sharing or open-sourcing facilitated modules would be valuable—i.e. the exercises or conversation-structuring approaches that each of us has developed.
  5. Sharing names or references of event producers and facilitators that also have a strong degree of community and social justice awareness might be another simple function of what this platform evolves to look like. (This might be managed simply through a closed LinkedIn Group, for example.)
  6. Ideas for places and spaces we conveners can go to get the inspiration we so carefully give to others! (I suspect attending one another’s conferences would be valuable here.)
  7. Some conveners’ events may no longer be required. How can this forming community of practice support those in transition? Or how can those of us who might be available for more production or facilitation work ensure this group is aware of that availability?

I look forward to continuing these conversations in the months ahead, and to attending at least a couple of your convenings in 2014!