You may not have heard about them; what they do is rarely in their job description. You may not even be aware of what they do; they tend to act as enablers rather than taking credit or seeking the spotlight. But they are here— working on sustainable change, across challenging silos, in complex social landscapes, amid changing circumstances. We call them systems conveners.
For many people, being a systems convener is only something that exists in retrospect. They may never have set out to convene people across a social landscape but have found themselves taking this on as a way to make a difference they care to make. Even if they set out with the intention to use a convening approach to make a difference, they may not have an adequate language to describe what they do.
The purpose of this book from Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner is to shine some light on systems convening—to emphasise the importance of this work and provide a language to articulate what it entails. The authors also want to describe the experience of people who do it. Systems convening is not an abstract type of work that can be done with detachment. It takes personal commitment and passion. It involves the heart as well as the head. To bring this to life, they have included portraits and quotes from people they interviewed.