World Café is a simple yet powerful method, originated by Juanita Brown, for enabling meaningful conversations driven completely by participants and the topics that are relevant and important to them. Facilitators create a cafe-style space and provide simple guidelines. Participants then self-organize and explore a set of relevant topics or questions for conversation.
Enabling meaningful conversations driven completely by participants
Setting: Create a casual, welcoming environment, most often modelled after a café, (i.e., small round tables covered with paper, colored markers, plants or flowers, and optional item to use as a "talking stick". There should be four to six chairs per table.
Welcome and introduction: begin with a welcome and an introduction to the World Café process, setting the context, sharing guidelines, and putting participants at ease. See the World Café website for further background and participant guidelines.
Questions: each round is guided by a question or questions designed for the specific context and desired purpose of the session. There can be a single question that all tables discuss or different questions at each table. The same questions can be used for more than one round, or they can be built upon each other to focus the conversation or guide its direction.
The questions should be compelling, open, energizing and relevant to the context. Questions are usually set by participants themselves and created before the session begins.
Small group rounds: The process begins with the first of three or more twenty-minute rounds of conversation for the small groups at each table. During the rounds participants explore the question in focus in an open way. A designated “table host” should support the flow of conversation without leading. At least one person should have the responsibility to “record” the conversation on large paper, using words and drawings.
At the end of each twenty-minute round, participants move to new tables. One person stays at each table as a "table host" for the next round, welcoming the next group and briefly filling them in on what happened in the previous round.
Harvest: After the small groups (and/or in between rounds, as desired) individuals are invited to share insights or other results from their conversations with the rest of the larger group.
See the World Cafe website for more resources and guidelines.
Source: Hyper Island toolbox
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