Strategic Convening

We offer ourselves as consultants and learning partners to help others convene conversations that lead to wise action to change our lives and communities — which can then transform our world.

We draw on and are informed by the experiences shared through our Learning Lab. The pioneering work taking place in our Action Lab provides new models and possibilities. The insights from past, present and future in our Stories Lab add to the rich foundation from which we work.

The members of our NewStories Team of master practitioners – social process designers, facilitators, community organizers, artists, mindfulness guides, coaches and story tellers – from all over the world have been designing and facilitating spaces for deep conversation that leads towards wise action for decades. NewStories started offering strategic convening services to others in 2016.

We need each other. Better lives, strong communities, more vibrant organizations are created when we turn to each other, stay present, speak the truth and listen as if our very lives depend on it.

There are six aspects of our strategic convening services:

Listen for Truth

These days it often seems like there’s not much listening going on. Some people are scared, others angry and many confused. Voices can become shrill, forceful and demanding. One of the first things teams from NewStories do is to listen. We create safe spaces for people to speak their truth. We listen, we gather stories, we use graphic recording to mirror back to people what we hear. We look for patterns, we engage people in finding meaning and in making sense.

We search for what’s unspoken and now ready to be revealed. When the mix of multiple perspectives generated by diverse experiences is viewed with curiosity rather than judgment, new insights begin to emerge.

Convene Powerful Conversations

Listening for truth leads naturally to convening powerful conversations. People who are part of the NewStories Team know how to convene conversations that matter.

Our work has taken us into many fields and venues. Strategic gatherings in local communities, with government, business and non-profit organizations, across multiple organizations, or nationwide. We’ve worked in disaster areas, post-revolutionary countries and with tribes in conflict.  And wherever people meet to find new ways to act that can make a difference. Convenings around particular issues like health and education or homelessness. Short term engagements or over multiple years.

In communities of practice like Art of Hosting to Authentic Leadership to Future Centers to Presencing Institute, we’ve been practicing and evolving better ways to engage people for years.

We design and facilitate spaces in which people are able to trust each other enough to ask powerful questions, create new vision, develop plans for action and find the next steps forward.

Leverage Difference

We’re all in this together. Most of us know that our own ideas are only part of what’s needed to move forward.  Sometimes we grudgingly admit that the perspective of another has value. From time to time we remember that unless it works for all of us, it doesn’t really work for any of us.

AND, it is unimaginably challenging to bring people with different perspectives, experience, values and beliefs into the same room and have more than rhetoric, stoney silence, posturing and mind-numbing arguments.

One of our fundamental beliefs at NewStories is that every community has extraordinary, and often hidden, knowledge, resources and capacities. This is true of place-based communities, groups tackling particular issues, businesses and organizations. Our work is to help people get real with real each other, respecting each other enough to share their experiences and their truths without blame or judgement.

We know that most people just want a good life for themselves, their families and friends. Unfortunately, we’re in a time when the knee-jerk reaction is to find someone else to blame for our problems. We’re quick to “other” people and make up stories about those with a different viewpoint.

Time to stop that. Time to slow down and listen for a change. We can help.

Act and Learn

 

For us, meaningful conversations lead to wise action. Trying ideas that emerge from collective wisdom at small scale to see what happens. Deciding where and how to deepen and broaden those ideas that are promising. Doing something. Observing what happens. Talking about it. Gathering input from those affected. Re-evaluating, adapting and taking the next step.

Using not just our minds but our whole body as sensory organ we can look at the whole system. After finding leverage points for systemic change, we catalyze cycles of action and reflection.  Our work is inspired by design thinking, idea generation, prototyping then scaling. Making use of developmental evaluation practices to track progress and impact.

If you want to catalyze your conversations into action. Talk to us.

Share the Stories

 

Working with participatory approaches begins to surface new stories. Sometimes they are stories about good things that are already happening which are largely invisible. Often there is new clarity about how to move ahead and sharing those stories helps to build a new movement. Sometimes a story is an invitation, other times a provocation and still other times a combination of inspiration and information.

Sharing these stories is a critical part of strategic convening. Within a community or system stories become a key way to bring more people into whatever work is being done. They stimulate and catalyze other people in their own efforts. Good work and people doing the work get stronger when witnessed. And their stories inspire others.

NewStories is part of broad web of individuals and organizations who have recognized how critical stories are to find our way ahead.  Our team includes artists, videographers, graphic recorders and others who help us move beyond words to more vivid expression. Our Storydome Team can create immersive learning experiences from stories. We can help you find, clarify and tell your story.

Repeat

Our work is iterative. Taking action and learning together creates results to be shared. New questions and insights arise. More listening and learning happens. Ripple effects start to happen. Sharing the stories that come of out the four steps above creates the conditions to go deeper or further, and to see even more of the systems in which we live and work.

Looking for a partner? Write us at strategic-convening-services@newstories.org. Click below to explore some stories of how we have worked in these ways.

Stories of our Work

NewStories works throughout the US and around the world to help others convene conversations that matter which lead to wiser action, creating the world and the change we want now. Read post

Our Approach

Are you looking for new ways to invite the collective intelligence present in every group forward? Interested in new ways of creating spaces which are alive with learning? Ready to break out of old ways of convening? We can help you create a whole new picture. Read post