The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations

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Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Feb 7, 2011 - Business & Economics - 192 pages
“Meetings are a waste of time” is a sentiment many of us share, which is tragic because meetings bring us together as human beings. To achieve the kind of meaning or breakthrough results most of us really yearn for when we gather, the key quality needed is authentic engagement: a genuine expression of what is true for us, and an attentive listening to what is true for others. Why it so often eludes us can be a matter of habit, distrust, lack of attention, or fear. As cofounders of Heartland Inc., Craig and Patricia Neal have led over 170 of their acclaimed Thought Leader Gatherings with leaders from over 800 diverse organizations. Their new book shares for the first time the unique and powerful Art of Convening model—developed in these gatherings and refined over six years of intensive trainings—which brings authentic engagement and meaning to any group that comes together for any purpose. Convening goes beyond facilitating. Convening creates an environment in which all voices are heard, profound exchanges take place, and transformative action results. The heart of this book is the Convening Wheel—a series of nine steps, or aspects, that bring the practices and principles needed for authentic engagement together as a whole. The book provides exercises, stories, and questions to help you master both the inner and outer dimensions of this work—because in convening, the state of the convener is equally as important as the physical preparations. Convening works in any setting and can be adapted to virtually any group process. With this book you have all the tools you need to develop this essential life and leadership skill, one that will lead to improved outcomes in your organization, community, family, and relationships.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
At the Heart of the Matter
13
Clarifying Intent
29
The Invitation
41
Setting Context
55
Creating the Container
67
Hearing All the Voices
89
Essential Conversation
109
Arrows for Your Quiver
160
Notes
167
Glossary
171
Suggested Reading
174
People Doing Good Things
177
Acknowledgments and Gratitude
182
Index
187
About Heartland
195

Creation
127
Commitment to Action
143
Our Invitation
157
About the Authors
197
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Craig Neal is a passionate change leader, publishing executive, organizational executive, and guide. From the 70s to the 90s Craig held executive positions with Garden Way, Inc, Rodale Publishing, and as Associate Publisher, launched Harrowsmith and Eating Well magazines. He’s the founder and former publisher of the Utne Reader.

Patricia Neal is co-founder and President of Heartland Inc. Patricia’s focus is inspiring Heartland’s growth through program development and execution. Under her guidance, Heartland’s signature programs have grown to include: Thought Leader Gatherings, The Art of Convening Trainings, VisionHolder Interview Series, When Women Lead: The Inner Voice of Women’s Leadership Retreat, Men’s Wilderness Journey Retreat, and consulting and coaching programs. All Heartland programs are dedicated to community leaders committed to taking their visions into action.

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