The World Cafe is designed primarily to generate collective knowledge sharing, webs of personal relationships, and new possibilities for action.
The goal of this exercise is to unite a group of people around a complex issue. The method helps to build on each other’s ideas and to look for connections and deeper themes, exploiting individual experiences and collective knowledge. The method is not intended to find a conclusion or answers, but rather to focus on the issues and underlying ideas behind someone’s answers. It’s a methodology for collaborative learning and knowledge creation.
The World Café has several rounds of conversation, where the questions motivate the participants to share their thoughts and ideas on the subject. The questions are progressive and help to continually stretch the imagination. For example: why, how, what? Or on different abstraction levels: from personal, to social, to a systemic question. The first question is the easiest to answer because you can speak from experience. The last question requires more brainpower. Finally, you end with an insight emerging from the various rounds of dialogue.
Principles of the World Cafe
1. Focus on what matters.
2. Contribute your thinking.
3. Listen to understand and connect ideas.
4. Listen together for patterns, insights and deeper questions.
In the session, participants will talk and discuss 3 different questions in small groups. In between questions, participants will switch places in order to talk to as many different people as possible. First, a table host will be chosen for each table, who will remain seated at each round of conversation. The host will brief the next group about what was discussed before so that all ideas are carried forward to the next group. When a question is announced, each participant has to take a few minutes to think about the question, and write, draw, and doodle to visualize the idea on a piece of paper. After, participants share their ideas with the group.
1. Start with walk-in and introduction to why we are here. Share the rules (focus on the goal, let everyone contribute, speak with emotion, listen attentively, find patterns and underlying themes, don’t lose yourself in a debate, and try to find new ideas.
2. Every round lasts 20 minutes, whereafter participants (minus the host) switch tables.
3. Let participants chose a host for each table, introduce the first question, and start the first round (remind participants when the round is almost over to round of their conversations).
4. For the next rounds, participants have to switch tables, and hosts have to give an overview of the previous discussion and ideas.
5. In the end, one person per group has to share the story with the rest of the participants.
Brown, Isaacs & World Café Community - The World Café: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter