System Convening – Masterclasses

Delivered in collaboration with the NHS South West Leadership Academy and Wenger-Trayner Unip Ltd, via zoom. 


This masterclass is for people who are involved in complex initiatives and are looking for tools and perspectives for making a difference across multiple boundaries or silos of practice, institutions and geography. The goal is to help you think through a strategy for dealing with your project in its broader context of often-competing initiatives, perspectives, expectations, and politics. 

“I valued the advise on how to approach bringing people together who historically have worked in silo organisations” 

“I valued the helpful tools and construct to support delivery of complex transformation across very diverse organisation boundaries” 

Participant feedback from the 2021-2022 System Convening Masterclass 


Many people nowadays find themselves leading initiatives that seem more complex than they used to be. Circumstances quickly change, people’s stances on different sides of traditional boundaries are deepening, and expectations of results are speeding up. We call the kind of people who take on these challenges systems conveners. 

The workshop engages participants in a reflection on their work from a systems-convening perspective. This entails understanding the mindset that systems conveners bring to their project as well as the various dimensions of the work of systems convening. 


  • An understanding of the systems convening perspective 
  • A wider range of possibilities for taking a systems convening approach to move initiatives forward 
  • Specific examples of how to do this work 

Structure of the session 

In this session we invite you to think through an approach for thinking about and taking action in the more complex environment we find ourselves in. We’ll include a reflection at four levels: 

  • Today. The complex landscape we find ourselves in today 
  • A new approach. A systems convening perspective (compared with a more traditional approach) 
  • Language for action. A language to frame these systems convening perspective in actionable ways 
  • Doing the work. The work involved in doing this perspective 

The specific themes we’ll be addressing include: 

  • A landscape perspective 
  • Boundaries and identities 
  • Power and agency 
  • Value creation 
  • Legitimacy and convening call 

This session will be repeated four times – please register for the date which suits you: 

We recognise upcoming teaching strikes are planned for some of the dates of this programme, and therefore some parents/carers may need to care for their children at home. To support you to continue your planned development, you are very welcome to join the session with children, as we did (and continue to do) during the first year of the pandemic. 

About the Facilitators

Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner 

Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner are internationally renowned social learning theorists and consultants. Their pioneering work in social learning is influential in such diverse fields as learning theory, business, government, international development, healthcare, and education. Their consulting practice specializes in contexts where there are large-scale social learning challenges. They founded the Social Learning Lab, where they host series of events oriented to theory, practice, and leadership. The co-edited volume Learning in landscapes of practice expands the theory beyond single communities. Systems convening sheds light on a crucial form of social-learning leadership. They are preparing a guidebook for communities of practice. They have started a book series called Learning to make a difference and recently published the first volume. It introduces the concept of social learning space as a new foundation for the theory, and their value-creation framework as a tool for both conceptualizing and cultivating social learning. Read the book here: Systems Convening – A crucial form of leadership for the 21st century (free PDF download). 

Please note that this is a pan-regional programme, led by the South West Leadership Academy. Your local leadership academy is coordinating all bookings for your region. Confirmation emails and links to all sessions will be issued by the South West Leadership Academy.