The Invitation Conversation

The invitation is a request to engage. It is different from selling, trying to gain “buy-in” or “rolling out” something. It is to ask others to choose to join in creating a new conversation.

Transformation occurs through choice, not mandate. This means it must be initiated through invitation. Invitation is a call to create an alternative future. The question is, ”what is the invitation we can make for people to gather in a way that they will own the relationships, tasks and process that lead to transformation?”

A powerful invitation must contain a hurdle or demand if accepted. It is a challenge to engage. It declares, “We want you to come, but if you do, here is what will be required from you.” 

Most leadership initiatives or training are about how we get or enrol people to do tasks and feel good about doing things they may not want to do. Change then becomes a self-inflicted wound. People need to self-enrol in order to experience their freedom of choice and commitment.

The initial leadership task is to name the debate, issue the invitation and provide the space for those who choose to show up. This recognizes that for every gathering there are those not in the room who are needed. Those who accept the first call will bring the next circle of people into the conversation.

The elements of a powerful invitation are the following:

Invite people who are not used to being together.

Declare the possibility of the gathering

Frame the choice

Name the hurdle

Reinforce the request

Decide on the most personal form possible

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To what extent are you here by choice?

What led you to accept the invitation?

What would it take for you to be present in this room?

What is the price others paid for you to be here?

Who in your life, living or dead, that you value and respect would you want to invite to sit with you and help make this meeting successful?

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(edited and adapted from) Peter Block “Community – The Structure of Belonging” 2008 and Peter Block “Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community” 2007



Peter Block “Community – The Structure of Belonging”
now in a second edition, revised and updated
Berrett-Koehler Publishers; 2nd ed. edition (July 17, 2018)

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