The Art and Science of Effective Convening

March 19, 2018

This is a great toolkit from the Monitor Institute on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation. It’s useful for just getting started in planning, or even as a resource for experienced facilitators. Do you want to bring a diverse group of folks together for some synthesis and creative problem-solving? This might be for you.


A description from the front material:

The term “convening” can refer to meetings, conferences, workshops, symposia, and many other events. We use it to mean a gathering that is different from these common formats in one important way: for the duration, the attendees are participants in a collective effort that serves a specific shared purpose. As a result, they are typically in-person gatherings of 10 to 80 participants that last from a half-day to as long as a week.

THIS GUIDEBOOK IS ORGANIZED around the most common building blocks of constructing any convening: deciding whether to convene, clarifying a “north star” purpose, and making a bevy of design choices that flow from that purpose. If offers a set of design principles, key questions, and critical issues to be considered and customized for your situation.

THIS DOCUMENT IS NOT a compendium of all the available material on convenings, or a guide to the broader body of material on facilitation, meeting production, collaboration, innovation, multi-stakeholder negotiation, and conflict resolution, though we refer you to external resources. It is also not a step-by-step manual, as every convening is a custom design. Instead, it offers starting points, questions, frameworks, and worksheets to guide you through the design process.

JUST STARTING TO PLAN A CONVENING? Start at the beginning, working from Choosing to Convene through Assembling Participants. When you reach a point where you need to do more work before you can proceed, read ahead to see what you’re in for and then return when you’re ready.

Already in the planning stages? Even if you’re close to execution, it won’t hurt to review the basics and make sure you’re clear on why convening is the right tool for your purpose. Unless your convening is in a few days, you’ll probably find it valuable to read Structuring the Work and Executing the Event.