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The Art of Convening

Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations

Craig Neal, Cynthia Wold (Editor)


List Price: 19.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


"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 year 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 co-founder 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 -- that brings authentic engagement and meaning to any group brought 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.

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

“Patricia and Craig’s book will bring a deeper level of joy and meaning into your conversations, your gatherings, and your life.”
—Dr. Mark Albion, author of Making a Life, Making a Living and former Harvard Business School professor

“As a longtime ‘meeting hater,’ I found the Neals’ book a mind-opener.”
—Peter Barnes, cofounder, Working Assets, and author of Capitalism 3.0

“Simple and yet profound. A book that gets to the heart of what it means to be an authentic leader.”
—Richard Barrett, author of Building a Values-Driven Organization

“Handbook? Road map? Guide? Doesn’t matter what you call it, The Art of Convening is a clear way forward for leaders—not only to great meetings but into solid relationships that support big solutions and meaningful work.”
Elizabeth Becker, President and CEO, Professional BusinessWomen of California

“This book is timely, practical, and filled with wisdom.”
—Alan Briskin, coauthor of The Power of Collective Wisdom

“More of us would do well to incorporate the principles and practices of this book in a world where happiness is a measurable indicator of smart business and good living.”
—Chip Conley, Executive Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Joie de Vivre

“This book offers us an indispensable tool, like a flashlight or Swiss Army knife on a camping trip, to take everywhere.”
—Aryae Coopersmith, founder and CEO, HR Forums

“An inspiring and practical book to show us the way.”
—Bruce Cryer, CEO, HeartMath

“The Neals ask us to slow down, to reflect, to start with ourselves when we want to create change for the good of all.“
—Margot Fraser, founder, Birkenstock USA

“The Neals have brought their big hearts, their design for meaningful and effective conversations, into this new book.”
—Pablo Gaito, Vice President, Learning and Development, Cargill

The Art of Convening is an elegant yet very practical guide on how to create and hold space for people in a manner that ignites deep engagement and exploration.”
—Mary Jo Kreitzer PhD, founder and Director, Center for Spirituality and Healing, University of Minnesota

“If you want to learn how to lead successful gatherings, skim The Art of Convening. If you want to learn how to lead transformational gatherings, read it from cover to cover.”
—Deb Nelson, Executive Director, Social Venture Network

“Craig and Patricia Neal have spent years helping people turn ‘meetings’ of the sort we complain about into the live and engaging encounters that real living requires.”
—Parker J. Palmer, author of A Hidden Wholeness and Let Your Life Speak

“The Neals bring groups, even contentious ones, to deep truths and positive commitment in relatively short times.“
—Michael Ray, Professor of Creativity and Innovation, Emeritus, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and author of The Highest Goal

“The nuggets of wisdom from The Art of Convening will stay with you for a long time as you practice its art form in creating meaningful and profound conversations.”
—Ann Schrader, Chief Operating Officer, HealthEast Care System

“This book is a trustworthy guide for anyone who wishes to serve powerful gatherings and the emergence of true community.”
—David Sibbet, founder, The Grove Consultants International, and author of Visual Meetings

“The clear, compassionate articulation of the ‘technology of relationships’ in this book opens the door for authentic engagement in any encounter.”
—Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money and President, Soul of Money Institute

“The authors have done for convening what Julia Child did for the art of French cooking—they have created the definitive and authoritative guide for mastering the art of convening. Bon appétit!
—Eric Utne, founder, Utne Reader

The Art of Convening outlines, in detail, the principles and practical application of convening we used on our road to success.”
—David Wagner, Owner and Daymaker, Juut Salonspa, and author of Life as a Daymaker

“Seldom have I encountered such depth of wisdom and clarity of process presented with such a gentle, inviting spirit.”
—Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science and coauthor of Walk Out Walk On

"Few people have refined the process of bringing people together as gracefully and elegantly as Craig and Patricia Neal. I hope you will not only read this book but take it to heart.”
—Peter Block, author of Stewardship and Community

“We spend so much time working together in groups, doesn’t it make sense to learn how to do it better, smarter, deeper, and more authentically?”
—Alan M. Webber, cofounder, Fast Company magazine

“An extraordinary work that encourages sincerity, clarity, and commitment to the formation of relationships at work and at home.”
—Marshall Goldsmith, author of Mojo and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

“This wise and thoughtful book helps readers understand what’s needed to create the kind of authentic meeting where true collective wisdom can emerge in group settings.”
—Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, co-originators, The World Café

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 9781605096681, 216pp.

Publication Date: February 7, 2011

About the Author

Craig Neal is cofounder and VisionHolder of Heartland.
Patricia Neal is cofounder and President of Heartland.
Cynthia Wold is a writer, artist, and Heartland’s Web Chief.