About

World Cafe Design Principles

World Cafe Method

Inter-Generational Collaboration

Conversational Leadership

References




About


The World Café (TWC)
Using seven design principles and a simple method, the World Café is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter, offering an effective antidote to the fast-paced fragmentation and lack of connection in today’s world. Based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life, the World Café is more than a method, a process, or technique – it’s a way of thinking and being together sourced in a philosophy of conversational leadership.


World Cafe Design Principles


1) Set the Context
Pay attention to the reason you are bringing people together, and what you want to achieve. Knowing the purpose and parameters of your meeting enables you to consider and choose the most important elements to realize your goals: e.g. who should be part of the conversation, what themes or questions will be most pertinent, what sorts of harvest will be more useful, etc..

2) Create Hospitable Space
Café hosts around the world emphasize the power and importance of creating a hospitable space—one that feels safe and inviting. When people feel comfortable to be themselves, they do their most creative thinking, speaking, and listening. In particular, consider how your invitation and your physical set-up contribute to creating a welcoming atmosphere.

3) Explore Questions that Matter
Knowledge emerges in response to compelling questions. Find questions that are relevant to the real-life concerns of the group. Powerful questions that “travel well” help attract collective energy, insight, and action as they move throughout a system. Depending on the timeframe available and your objectives, your Café may explore a single question or use a progressively deeper line of inquiry through several conversational rounds.

4) Encourage Everyone’s Contribution
As leaders we are increasingly aware of the importance of participation, but most people don’t only want to participate, they want to actively contribute to making a difference. It is important to encourage everyone in your meeting to contribute their ideas and perspectives, while also allowing anyone who wants to participate by simply listening to do so.

5) Connect Diverse Perspectives
The opportunity to move between tables, meet new people, actively contribute your thinking, and link the essence of your discoveries to ever-widening circles of thought is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Café. As participants carry key ideas or themes to new tables, they exchange perspectives, greatly enriching the possibility for surprising new insights.

6) Listen together for Patterns and Insights
Listening is a gift we give to one another. The quality of our listening is perhaps the most important factor determining the success of a Café. Through practicing shared listening and paying attention to themes, patterns and insights, we begin to sense a connection to the larger whole. Encourage people to listen for what is not being spoken along with what is being shared.

7) Share Collective Discoveries
Conversations held at one table reflect a pattern of wholeness that connects with the conversations at the other tables. The last phase of the Café, often called the “harvest”, involves making this pattern of wholeness visible to everyone in a large group conversation. Invite a few minutes of silent reflection on the patterns, themes and deeper questions experienced in the small group conversations and call them out to share with the larger group. Make sure you have a way to capture the harvest – working with a graphic recorder is recommended.


World Cafe Method


Drawing on seven integrated design principles, the World Café methodology is a simple, effective, and flexible format for hosting large group dialogue.

World Café can be modified to meet a wide variety of needs. Specifics of context, numbers, purpose, location, and other circumstances are factored into each event’s unique invitation, design, and question choice, but the following five components comprise the basic model:

1) Setting: Create a “special” environment, most often modeled after a café, i.e. small round tables covered with a checkered or white linen tablecloth, butcher block paper, colored pens, a vase of flowers, and optional “talking stick” item. There should be four chairs at each table (optimally) – and no more than five.

2) Welcome and Introduction: The host begins with a warm welcome and an introduction to the World Café process, setting the context, sharing the Cafe Etiquette, and putting participants at ease.

3) Small Group Rounds: The process begins with the first of three or more twenty minute rounds of conversation for the small group seated around a table. At the end of the twenty minutes, each member of the group moves to a different new table. They may or may not choose to leave one person as the “table host” for the next round, who welcomes the next group and briefly fills them in on what happened in the previous round.

4) Questions: each round is prefaced with a question specially crafted for the specific context and desired purpose of the World Café. 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.

5) Harvest: After the small groups (and/or in between rounds, as needed), individuals are invited to share insights or other results from their conversations with the rest of the large group. These results are reflected visually in a variety of ways, most often using graphic recording in the front of the room.



Inter-Generational Collaboration


Wiser Together is a pioneering venture of conversational experiences, learning programs and consultation services designed to develop and sustain multi-generational collaboration on the most critical issues of today. Multi-generational World Café practitioners are poised to work within communities and organizations to tap into the collective wisdom and co-creativity that shows up when we intentionally invite the voices and unique contributions of all generations to participate.

Wiser Together Principles in Practice
  • Invite and Honor Unique Contributions: How can we acknowledge, respect and utilize the wisdom and experience of all generations, including those that came before or after us?
    • Use personal storytelling and deep listening techniques for identifying the common hopes we share, independent of age or stage
    • Do Community Asset Mapping of unique contributions and experience of each generation
  • Foster Real Partnerships: How can we shift traditional mindsets and assumptions in ways that deal compassionately with hierarchies and stereotypes, which can keep us stuck in unproductive relationships between generations?
    • Bring multigenerational teams that model collaborative leadership to host key gatherings
    • Identify issues of common concern that are larger than individual interest
    • Use proven dialogue methods that uncover hidden assumptions and mindsets in collaborative ways
  • Design Innovative Experiments: How can we embody the Wiser Together approach to the work we are already doing in order to test and share the evolving Wiser Together guiding principles, approaches and core questions, as well as our ongoing learnings?
    • Practice leading edge learning methods such as participatory action research
    • Engage on-line communication and collaboration tools to design and share the results of action learning experiments across networks
    • Create venues that foster multi-generational story-telling around key projects
  • Create Safe & Inclusive Spaces: How can we design environments and collaborative processes which assure that every voice and perspective has the equal opportunity to contribute their gifts?
    • Use a variety of large group hosting practices and collaborative on-line tools
    • Engage dialogue-based collaboration processes to build strong and lasting partnerships
    • Create hospitable spaces which include sharing nourishment for the whole being: body, mind, and spirit
  • Use Creative Ways of Learning and Working Together: How can we introduce authentic dialogue, the arts, ritual and celebration as well as other modes of creative expression to access collective intelligence and cultivate wise action?
    • Invite the use of music, movement, art, poetry, silence, and other forms of creative expression—both individual and collective.
    • Engage the natural world as an ally
  • Cultivate Meaningful Friendships: How can we create opportunities to build strong personal relationships of mutual trust and respect with others across the life cycle in all Wiser Together projects?
    • Share meals and other informal times together
    • Use personal storytelling/storysharing as a core process
    • Inquire into each other’s dilemmas and concerns
  • Learn Together, Harvest Insights, and Share Discoveries: How can we individually and collectively incorporate time for reflection and mutual learning as well as the documentation and sharing of stories, tools, and frameworks across our networks?
    • Use graphic facilitation/documentation in both face to face and virtual gatherings
    • Develop & continually evolve a Wiser Together Playbook incorporating key designs
    • Create multi-generational “ambassadors” to other networks and conferences
  • Share the stories of our past / Develop the stories of our future: How can intergenerational partnerships create opportunities to learn the truth about history and to allow meaningful relationships to be at the root of designing the future we imagine?
    • Share the stories and forces that have shaped who we are – personally, culturally, etc.
    • Critically analyze what happens when we come together
    • Use methods of reconciliation and allow the stories from the past to influence shared positive futures



Conversational Leadership





References

Please visit our online Library for a much larger list of references on this subject.

The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter, by Juanita Brown et al.
http://www.theworldcafe.com/ - most of the information on this page comes from this website
http://www.theworldcafecommunity.org/